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Ceremonia Raíces

Graduation season allows many students to take the time to celebrate their accomplishments, their stories and their beginnings as well as their futures. At William & Mary, Latinx students — students who are of Latin American descent — celebrate their heritage while they prepare to embark on their post-graduation journeys at the Ceremonia Raíces, meaning “Ceremony of Roots."

The development of a graduation stole for Ceremonia Raíces, emerged as a collaborative initiative between Isabela Ortiz Caso '25 and Dyamond J. Howell (Associate Director of the Center for Student Diversity). Inspired by the need for cultural inclusivity and representation, the Ceremonia Raíces stole was crafted to reflect the rich diversity and shared heritage of Latin America and the Caribbean, an often-forgotten region of the diaspora.
Drawing on symbols of unity and connectivity, Isabela Ortiz Caso '25 envisioned a stole that would transcend borders and linguistic divides. By incorporating elements from Simon Bolivar's vision of a united Latin America and the iconic imagery of Latin American flags, the stole embodies the spirit of cooperation and solidarity among Spanish, English, and Portuguese speakers across the region.
The choice of colors—red, blue, and yellow—was deliberate, symbolizing the common thread that runs through the flags of all Latin American nations. Additionally, the inclusion of the blue diamond, reminiscent of the Brazilian flag, serves as a unifying symbol, much like the stars found in other national flags. This symbolic representation, akin to the sun with spikes, encapsulates the collective identity of Latin American and Caribbean nations, celebrating their shared history and aspirations for the future.
Just as the Khatalampay stole (Asian, Pacific, Middle Eastern/South West Asian students) and the Kente Stole (African descent students) symbolizes unity and empowerment, the Ceremonia Raices stole embodies the essence of Latin American and Caribbean identity, honoring the journey of graduating seniors and embracing the diversity that enriches the William & Mary community.
A student celebrates at the LatinX graduation ceremony.

Nearly 50 Latinx seniors participate in the ceremony and receive green stoles with silver lettering saying “clase de,” or “class of,” and William & Mary.

"The Center for Student Diversity was ecstatic to hear from Latinx students their desire for a celebration," said CSD Director Kimberly Weatherly

Each graduate is donned by person(s) of their choice with a specially designed stole marking the end of their time here at William & Mary.

President Katherine A. Rowe welcomes the audience to the first annual Latinx graduation ceremony.

The ceremony is particularly meaningful for students who are first-generation college students, as well as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, although the event is meant to celebrate the accomplishments of Latinx students of all lived experiences.