Hitimu Celebration honors multicultural Murray State students before graduation

MURRAY, KY — Murray State University’s commencement ceremonies may be on Saturday, but for some the celebration began Friday night. Nearly 50 multicultural students were honored during the Spring Hitimu Celebration at the Murray State Curris Center Theatre.

Hitimu is a Swahili word for graduate.

The Murray State Office of Multicultural Initiatives, Student Leadership & Inclusive Excellence sponsored the Hitimu Celebration, along with support from the Division of Student Affairs and the Murray State president’s office.

“Basically celebrating accomplishments of our students of color on campus and other students on campus who went through a journey. Hitimu is about finishing the journey,” OMI Executive Director S.G. Carthell said. “And so what you will see in this program this evening are students who come from different backgrounds, different ethnicities that have come together to celebrate their graduation. So this is a pre-celebration to the actual graduation that will happen on Saturday.”

In addition to Carthell, speakers at Friday night’s ceremony included Murray State President Robert Jackson, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Mark Arant, and other faculty members.

“Always remember where you came from, and always remember that we care very deeply about you,” Arant told the students.

After the speakers offered words of wisdom, the 47 multicultural students each walked on stage to receive a kente stole, an alumni pin, a portfolio, a certificate of achievement, and a rose. They also thanked the people who supported them during their academic careers.

“I dedicate this rose to my parents — my mom and my dad,” one student from Nigeria said on stage.

This is the 15th year of the Hitimu Celebration at Murray State.

“One of the reasons I brought this program here to Murray State — we did it at my last institution, I started it there — was to increase the number of students of color who actually walked, who actually went to the commencement exercise,” Carthell explained. “Because what you’ll find is sometimes, students will go through their college experience, sometimes don’t feel as connected and they skip graduation. And graduation is like the most important thing, one of the most important things that a student can go through.”

One of the students who will be graduating on Saturday is computer science major John Skinner. He has already secured a job at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle.

“Having this graduation ceremony is very important to us, because it recognizes that the people who have come through the community here, and that they can be successful and go on to graduate,” said Skinner.

Another student set to graduate Saturday is communication disorders major Whitney Hardison, who will be getting married in a week and hopes to eventually pursue a doctorate in audiology.

“I feel like it’s so, so important to realize and support people that are minorities that may not have the same privileges as other people do,” said Hardison of the importance of the Hitimu Celebration.

Murray State will have two commencement ceremonies on Saturday at the CFSB Center. The first one will be at 9 a.m. and the second will be at 2 p.m.

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