Cultural Celebrations Add Personal Touch to Commencement

Leading up to USC’s 131st Commencement on May 16, numerous graduating seniors will participate in a special USC tradition – celebrating their accomplishments with the campus communities that empowered them as students.

At 8 p.m. on May 15, a trio of university celebrations will both honor students’ academic achievements and embrace their cultural identities.

The Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs (CBCSA) will hold its African-American Cultural Celebration in Bovard Auditorium. The free event is open to all graduating students and serves as a traditional rite of passage and affirmation for students of African descent and their families. Registration is required. For more information, visit:

The same evening, Asian Pacific American Student Services (APASS), along with the Asian Pacific Alumni Association and the Asian Pacific American Student Assembly, will co-sponsor a free event to recognize the strength and heritage of Asian Pacific graduates.

“This is an important event to not only highlight the successes of the graduating students but also to share the collective successes of the Asian Pacific American community that we may not see in the ‘traditional’ graduation ceremony,” said Mary Ho, director of APASS.

The Asian Pacific Graduate Celebration in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Ballroom will feature a welcome by USC Vice Provost for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry and a keynote by alumna Young Kim. For more information, visit:

Additionally, El Centro Chicano will host its 34th Annual Chicano/Latino Graduate Celebration at Howard Jones Field. The free evening will features Aztec dancers, and all graduates have an opportunity to publicly thank those who helped them achieve personal and educational success.

“The evening showcases the very best of our community, while also commemorating the struggles of our predecessors and providing magnificent examples for future generations,” said Billy Vela, director of El Centro Chicano.  For more information, visit:

Two cultural communities at USC have already held their graduation celebrations. Earlier this month, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center hosted its 20th Annual Lavender Commencement Celebration recognizing 55 graduates, Lambda LGBT Alumni Association scholarship recipients, and student leaders.


Classical Indian dance troupe, USC Drishti, performed at the International Student Graduation Reception.
Classical Indian dance troupe, USC Drishti, performed at the International Student Graduation Reception. Photo by Fred Chang ’16.

On April 18, the Office of International Services (OIS) celebrated a medley of cultures at its 32nd Annual International Student Graduation Reception, where 300 students enjoyed traditional Chinese dancing by USC TCDance, classical Indian dancing by USC Drishti, and East Asian A Capella by USC Trogons.

“The best part (of the International Student Graduation Reception) was meeting people I wouldn’t ordinarily have the chance to meet,” said a Malaysian undergraduate who attended.

Diplomats from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China, the Consulate General de France, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office and the Consulate General of Malaysia were there to congratulate USC’s international student graduates.