Lavender Graduation AND PRIDE AWARDS
Lavender Graduation is a celebration honoring LGBTQ+ and ally students and recognizing their achievements and contributions to the College. Babson Pride Award recipients also are honored at the ceremony.
Thank you to everyone who attended the 2017 Lavender Graduation!
About Lavender Graduation
The Lavender Graduation Ceremony was created by Dr. Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish lesbian, who was denied the opportunity to attend the graduations of her biological children because of her sexual orientation. Encouraged by the Dean of Students, Dr. Sanlo held the first Lavender Graduation Ceremony ever at the University of Michigan in 1995, with three graduates in attendance. Today there are more than 90 Lavender Graduations being held at colleges and universities nationwide, according to the HRC.
The color lavender is a combination of the pink triangle that gay men were forced to wear in concentration camps and the black triangle which, according to some, was used to designate lesbians as political prisoners in Nazi Germany. The LGBT civil rights movement took these symbols of hatred and combined them as a color and symbol of pride and community.
View a list of U.S. colleges and universities that celebrate Lavender Graduation.
2017 Keynote Speaker
Kit Yan ’06
We were thrilled to welcome back to campus alumnus and CEO of Kit Yan Productions Kit Yan ’06.
In his keynote, Yan talked about his experiences as a first-generation Chinese immigrant, the first in his family to go to college, and the first openly transgender student at Babson. He has spent the past decade creating theatrical experiences that uplift queer and transgender people of color with immigrant stories through books, plays, musicals, and film.
He told students that with Babson’s powerful degree comes great responsibility, and what you do with it as you succeed and fail in business and in life is up to you. He said, “By working for those in our communities who are the most vulnerable, the most marginalized, the most underrepresented, you will find abundance.”
2016 Keynote Speaker
Aaron Walton '83
We were thrilled to welcome back to campus, alumnus and co-founder of Walton Isaacson (WI) Advertising Agency, Aaron Walton '83.
In his keynote, Aaron discussed why the essential life advice: "do not be afraid to be who you are" is more essential than ever in the business world that demands passionate individuals who can identify what's next and who don't protect the status quo. He encouraged everyone to keep building a community of colleagues and friends who will allow them to evolve, grow and take the big risks that are simply inevitable in life.
2015 Keynote Speaker
We were delighted when attorney Sara Schnorr returned to campus to give our keynote address.
Sara is a member of
the Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association, the Founders Circle of GLAD's Transgender Rights Project, the Board of Visitors of Fenway Community Health, and SpeakOUT Boston.
An active friend of Babson's Pride Alliance and Out Network student groups, Sara recently serving as keynote speaker at Transgender Day of Remembrance, and as panelist and mentor for Live OUT Loud, where she shared her experiences and tips for being out in the workforce.
In her keynote, Sara gave a moving account of her experience as a transgender woman and inspired us to make a difference in the lives of others. She described how we must first have the courage to accept and love ourselves, and then work tirelessly to advocate for, and support those in our workplaces, schools, and communities who need us most.
2014 Keynote Speaker
Dr. Thomas Bourdon ’98
We were honored to welcome Dr. Thomas Bourdon ’98, president of Greater Boston PFLAG, as Babson’s first Lavender Graduation keynote speaker.
In a moving speech, Tom shared his own personal story and gave the graduates advice for the future, including:
- Live your life with honesty and integrity.
- Be your true, authentic-self, and be proud of who you are.
- Recognize your privilege, and use it for good.
- Treat everyone with respect.
- Do not burn bridges.
- Give your life meaning and purpose.
He closed with this final instruction: “You are amazing people with beautiful spirits, so go make us proud.”
Babson Pride Awards
At Babson, we choose Lavender Graduation to also honor staff, faculty, alumni, and friends of the college who have made significant contributions to Babson and/or the greater LGBTQ community through the Pride Awards.
Our 2016 honorees were:
Undergraduate: Alexis Yioulos '16, Nicholas Gordon '16
Staff: Chuck Collins, Associate Professor of Graduate Student Affairs
Faculty: Kerry Rourke, Lecturer in English
Alumni & Friends: Aaron Walton '83
Our 2015 honorees were:
Undergraduate: Matthew Hard '17
Graduate: Phil Pinson M’15
Staff: Jason Salzenstein, Senior Instructional & Curriculum Designer
Faculty: Robert Turner DBA., Associate Professor of Accounting
Alumni & Friends: Thomas Bourdon '98, Ed.D
Our 2014 honorees were:
Undergraduate: Christian Lewis ’13, Natalie Cullings ’14
Graduate: Christine Yoon M’15
Staff: Jamie Kendrioski, Director of International Student & Scholar Services
Faculty: Toni Lester, Ph.D., Professor of Law, Culture and Society
Alumni & Friends: Richard Babson
Pride Award winner Natalie Cullings also served as the student speaker for the 2014 commencement ceremony, sharing her beliefs about entrepreneurship and diversity at Babson.