Donning of the Stole Ceremony

Event Details 

The Donning of the Stole ceremony will bring together undergraduates and their invited guests for a ceremony, follow by a reception. The formal program will feature alumni, staff, and graduating seniors as speakers. Participating seniors' academic and personal success at the University of Scranton will be recognized during the ceremony. Graduates will also be presented with a cultural stole, which they will be able to wear during Commencement as a symbol of their achievements.

The Donning of the Stole Ceremony this year will be held on Saturday, May 18th at 11:30 am in the Byron Center, followed by a reception at the Long Center.

Students in the Class of 2024 who would like to participate in the Donning of the Stole Ceremony are requested to complete the Donning of the Stole Application by March 25, 2024.  

For questions or more information about the Donning of the Stole Ceremony contact Jose Sanchez at



Origins, Meaning, and Significance of Kente Stoles Ceremonies

On May 15, 1993, thirty graduates attended the first-ever Donning of the Kente event called “A Family Affair” at West Chester University. Recognizing the need to honor the particular historical and personal struggle of Black students to complete a baccalaureate degree, Dr. Franklin Simpson, Director of Affirmative Action and Jerome “Skip” Hutson, Director of Minority Affairs, met with two English professors, Drs. Christian Awuyah and C. James Trotman. Together they came up with the idea of a Kente Commencement Ceremony, incorporating the significance of the Kente Stole, which dates back to 12th century Africa and the Ashanti people of what is now Ghana. As the traditional cloth native to the Akan ethnic group of Ghana, Kente is an Akan royal and sacred cloth worn only in times of extreme importance and is the cloth of kings and nobility. Kente cloths have a vast selection of bright colors and uniquely woven patterns, this sartorial device is used to glorify the respected features of the West African Asante culture. Today, Kente cloths are used as a visible acknowledgment to commemorate the personal and academic success of students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds on college campuses' commencement ceremonies.

Through the years, The “Donning of the Kente” ceremony has become an annual cultural achievement ceremony where families, colleagues, and friends gather to celebrate the accomplishments of those receiving their undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. The Kente ceremony or versions of this ceremony have become a cherished tradition at college campuses across the country, including a few Jesuit institutions, such as Georgetown University’s Multicultural Graduation ceremonies (Asian Heritage, Harambee [African-American Heritage Ceremony], Despedida Ceremony [Latino Heritage Ceremony]), Loyola University of Chicago’s Legacy Celebration, Boston Col-lege’s AHANA Send Off, and Loyola Marymount University’s Kente Graduation

History and Significance of the Donning of the Stole Ceremony at the University of Scranton

The Multicultural Center set out to explore opportunities to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of students from historically marginalized identities approaching graduation. The goal was to highlight the success in overcoming the particular barriers faced by students from these groups, specifically for students of color, in attaining higher education. With that goal in mind, we sought to establish a ceremony that would provide graduates with a positive and rewarding event recognizing their hard work and dedication to their education. Starting with the research completed by then-graduating senior Camila Robles of the Class of 2019, we celebrated our first “Graduation Celebration,” honoring and celebrating nine graduates. Following the success of our first graduation celebration, Aba Amon-Kwafo Class of 2020 wrote the proposal for the Inaugural Donning of the Kente Stole Ceremony to be approved as an official Commencement event for her class and future classes. In the Fall of 2020, Aba with the support of Class of 2020 graduate Rose Rosado-Hernandez and Samiel Torres from, Class of 2021 assisted in hosting the Inaugural Virtual Celebration of the Donning of the Kente Stole Ceremony for 21 graduates of the Class of 2020. On the Spring of 2021, we celebrated the first official “in person” Donning of the Kente Stole Ceremony and it was also the first year the ceremony was recognized and streamed live as part of the University Commencement events with 47 graduates being recognized. Following the success of our first in person Donning of the Kente Stole Ceremony, the student committee in partnership with the diversity groups on campus, and Jose Sanchez worked hard to make the ceremony more inclusive and a multicultural celebration. They chose 5 designs to give graduates the option to choose the stole that best represented their identity. The cultural stoles chosen featured colors, symbols, and designs that represented the following identities:

  • Kente Stole (Stole chosen for Black, African American and African descend ancestry identities)
  • Hispanic/Latino Stole (Stole chosen for Hispanic/Latino/Latinx/Latine, Afro-Latino, African descend ancestry identities)
  • Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Red Stole Background Design: ( Stole chosen for identities of all of the Asian Continent, Pacific Islands and Desi American identity "a person of South Asian descent or those who traces their heritage to the Indian subcontinent")
  • Native American Stole: (Stole chosen for Native American and Alaskan Native heritage and ancestry)
  • Multiracial Stole (Stole chosen for two or more races identities)

Resulting in 71 graduates that participated and were bestowed the new cultural stoles in the Spring of 2022. This year the Donning of the Stole Student Committee is driven to increase the number of graduates participating in this year’s ceremony and continue celebrating the accomplishments and academic achievements.

Cultural Stoles

The Donning of the Stole Ceremony Committee has chosen and is offering graduates the opportunity to choose from five cultural stoles the one that best represents their identity. Please read below the descriptions of each cultural stole. What do the cultural stoles represents: The stoles chosen for the Donning of the Stole Ceremony are sashes worn around your neck on graduation day, representing graduates' academic achievement and personal success. The stoles will come in numerous colors and will be embellished with symbols or designs to represent the various identities they represent.


  • What if I identify as more than one cultural identity?  

The committee has chosen a Multiracial stole design for graduates who identify as more than one cultural identity.  

  • When will I get my stole?  

Graduating seniors will receive their cultural stoles at the Donning of the Stole Ceremony on Saturday, May 18 th     

  • How much are the stoles?  

Graduating seniors don’t have to pay to receive their cultural stoles. Stoles are sponsored and funded through Diversity Initiative funding and by the Multicultural Center.   

  • Can I receive a stole if I don’t attend the ceremony?  

Yes, you can indicate on our Donning of the Stole application that you will be unable to attend and would like to pick up your stole. Participating graduates will receive information on when and where to go to pick up their stoles.       

  • Will I be notified after I submit my application of my participation on the ceremony?  

Yes, you will receive an email confirmation of your participation in the ceremony.  

  • How many guests am I allowed to have?  

Graduating seniors will be allowed to bring up 5 guests.  

  • What is the dress code for the ceremony?  

Graduates are encouraged to wear cultural formal wear if accessible and available. There is a mandatory dress code for the event of business casual/dressy. Dress code recommended for gender expressions for men: slacks, dress shoes, button down shirt, blazer, suit. For gender expression for women: Dresses, skirts, and professional pants.  

Past Years Ceremonies

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