Lavender Graduation 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Great Room, Healey Family Student Center
Ceremony: 5:00pm – 7:00pm 
Reception: 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Lavender Graduation is a special ceremony for LGBTQ and Ally undergraduate and graduate students to acknowledge their achievements, contributions, and unique experiences at Georgetown University. This is an opportunity to celebrate the graduating students and bring the community together, along with our distinguished guests, to share in our history and progress.

2016 Keynote Speaker

Dinaw Mengestu (C’00) is a MacArthur Fellow and award winning writer whose novels and nonfiction pieces explore the complexities of the African diaspora within the context of the United States. Originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mengestu and his family immigrated to America in 1980 while fleeing the communist revolution. Mengestu’s writing is concerned not only with the dislocations experienced by immigrants, but also with broader questions of identity, including how individuals define themselves by their dreams, their choices, and the place or places they call home. In 2014, he was named one of The New Yorker’s top 20 fiction writers under age 40. Each of his novels, The Beautiful Things that Heaven BearsHow to Read the Air, and All Our Names have been well received by critics around the world.

In addition to his fiction writing, Mengestu is also a talented freelance journalist, recently making forays into war-torn regions of sub-Saharan Africa to write about life in Darfur, northern Uganda, and eastern Congo near the border with Rwanda. His journalism and fiction have appeared in such publications as Harper’sGrantaRolling StoneThe New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal.

Dinaw Mengestu received a B.A. (2000) from Georgetown University and an M.F.A. (2005) from Columbia University. He is the recipient of a 2006 fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and he was the Lannan Visiting Writer at Georgetown University in 2007. Mengestu was the 2012 MacArthur Genius Grant Recipient. He served as the Lannan Foundation Chair in poetics (2012-2015) at Georgetown University.  

“It’s hard sometimes to remember why we do anything in the first place. It’s nice to think there’s a purpose, or even a real decision that turns everything in one direction, but that’s not always true, is it? We just fall into our lives.” 

― Dinaw Mengestu, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears

For more information:

2012 MacArthur Fellow (new window)

Understanding the Puzzles of Identity, All Our Names interview (new window)

2016 Lavender Graduation Award Winners

Commitment to the Campus Community
Eric Nevalsky

Beyond the Gates
Alexis Dever

Bridge Builder
Queen Adesuyi

Outstanding Ally to the LGBTQ Community
Candace Milner

Staff Commitment to the LGBTQ Community
Daviree Velazquez

Faculty Commitment to the LGBTQ Community
Maya Roth

Visit our archives to view previous Lavender Graduation Award winners.

2016 Lavender Graduation Program

Chaplain Wendy Hamilton

Prof. Chester Gillis
Dean, Georgetown College

Opening Remarks
John J. DeGioia Ph.D., Col ‘79, Grad ’95
President, Georgetown University

Introduction of Keynote Speaker
Prof. Ricardo Ortiz
Chair, Department of English

Dinaw Mengestu (C ’00)
MacArthur Fellow, 2012
Lannan Chair of Poetics 2012-2015, Georgetown University

Senior Speaker

Presentation of Inaugural Tagliabue Faculty Research Award​
Prof Julia Watts Belser
Assistant Professor, Department of Theology 

Presentation of Awards 

Recognition of Graduates

Closing Ceremony

2016 Celebration Partners

  • Office of the President
  • Office of the Provost
  • Office of Mission & Ministry
  • Alumni Association
  • School of Medicine
  • Georgetown University Law Center
  • School of Continuing Studies
  • Division of Student Affairs 

Lavender Graduation 2016 Videos

Remarks from President John J. DeGioia

Introduction to Keynote: Professor Ricardo Ortiz

Keynote Speech: Dinaw Mengestu (COL ’00)

Senior Reflection: Bassam Sidiki

Closing Remarks: Shiva Subbaraman

Performance: Saxatones

Lavender Graduation 2016 Photos