Student Life Diversity Committee hosts multicultural recognition ceremony

Krystal Ortiz, News Editor

The Student Life Diversity Committee hosted the annual Multicultural Recognition Ceremony to celebrate and promote diversity in the Iona community on May 8.

The event was coordinated by the SLDC. The committee iscomprised of members from the Division of Student Life, such as the Counseling Center, the Office of Mission and Ministry, the Office of Student Development and the Office of Residential Life, according to Melissa Aponte, director of student development.

One of the members from the SLDC, Resident Hall Director of Hales Hall, Conese Hall and On-Campus Houses Aaron Harman, believes that the ceremony is vital because it honors social justice advocates.


It is important because it honors the hard work of students that come from various backgrounds that are committed to being social justice activists,” Harman said. It gives the opportunity to recognize those students and reward their hard work.

The Multicultural Recognition Ceremony was designed to celebrate the academic achievements of the diverse population of Iona students. The event honored and highlighted the range of identities, cultures, religions, nationalities, sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds and abilities of graduating seniors. The ceremony was composed of staff, faculty, ambassadors and students. The event also recognized the support that families and other individuals provided for the graduating students, according to the Iona website.

The Multicultural Recognition Ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of our students and recognize all their accomplishments,” Aponte said.

The development of the event stems from the initiative to recognize the unique experiences of students from diverse backgrounds. Although the event was open to all graduating students, the unrepresented cultures and backgrounds are separated because of the challenge they face graduating from a predominantly white institution, according to the Iona website.  

The goal is to recognize all the work that our students do as leaders as well as recognize the rich diversity of our students who attend Iona,” Aponte said.

Students also saw the importance of recognizing their peers, such as senior Kaitlyn Camperlino, president of Love is Love and student reflector for the ceremony.

This ceremony is so important to the Iona community because students deserve to be recognized for their commitments towards diversity and being an integral part of making sure our institution is accountable for the acceptance and inclusion of all identities on this campus,” Camperlino said.

It is important to let the students know that they are appreciated and celebrated for their commitment to diversity and inclusion, especially during the current remote circumstances, according to Aponte.

Even though we are not together physically we want our students to know we are thinking of them and that these circumstances would not stop us from bringing them together for a celebration as important as this,” Aponte said.

During the ceremony, students were awarded with Commitment to Diversity awards, which include Champion of Diversity, Emerging Leader, Multicultural Excellence, Community Advocate and Social Justice Ambassador, according to the Iona website.

The Champion of Diversity award is given to a senior who has made a positive effort to provide students with a supplemental source of support, advocacy and leadership development by initiating programming, campus involvement and engaging conversations, according to the Iona website.

On their website, Iona outlines all of the awards and provides details on what they represent.

The Emerging Leader award is presented to a non-senior undergraduate student who has shown the potential to emerge within the past academic year.

The Multicultural Excellence award is given to an undergraduate student who has shown that they embrace diversity and serveunderrepresented students with opportunities to explore issues regarding diversity, identity development, multicultural education, social justice and leadership initiatives.

Additionally, the Community Advocate award recognizes a non-senior whose consistent contribution towards diversity and inclusion has gone beyond their role to promote diversity and unity acting without recognition. This student maintains a commitment to diversity, engaging in meaningful discussions in and outside the classroom.

The Social Justice Ambassador award recognizes an undergraduate student with a commitment to diversity by engaging in social justice initiatives beyond the scope of the Iona College community. This student actively works within the greater community to explore issues regarding diversity, expanding their knowledge in service of humanity.

Students were also part of the ceremony and were happy to see their peers being recognized for their work, such as seniorWanda McDonald, who conducted the innovation of the ceremony.

I believe that it is always an amazing experience when diversity is celebrated, not only in words but with heartfelt thoughtful considerations such as this one that I have experienced tonight,” McDonald said.

OSD will continue pushing for diversity by organizing events for the diverse population at Iona, such as upcoming Heritage months including Latinx heritage in September. 

We continue to support our multicultural clubs and organizations and will help them plan and implement programs related to diversity,” Aponte saidWe also train our student leaders on issues related to diversity so they are equipped to lead their organizations with acceptance and a diversity mindset.