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The second annual Lavender Celebration

An award ceremony for LGBTQ students and allies at UMBC

Before the seniors move on to bigger and better things, the UMBC LGBTQ community wanted to celebrate their accomplishments and recognize the outstanding support systems here on campus.

In recognition of graduating LGBTQ seniors, allied staff, faculty, offices, departments and supportive programs here at UMBC, the Lavender Celebration encouraged family and friends to come together in a commemoration of accomplishments within the LGBTQ campus community.

Sponsored by Student Life’s Mosaic and Interfaith Centers, this year’s Lavender Celebration took place in The Commons’ Skylight Room on the evening of Wednesday, April 29. Before the ceremony began at 6:30 p.m., attendees had the chance to mingle and load up on hors d’oeuvres and refreshments.

Coordinator for LGBTQ Programs Zach Kosinski began by welcoming Dr. Nancy Young, Vice President for Student Affairs, to the podium for some opening remarks. “There are so many things to celebrate,” Young said to the crowd. “You have really made a difference. You work hard at bringing people together and creating this safe and welcoming place.”

Following Dr. Young, Dr. Kim Leisey, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, provided everyone with a little bit of LGBTQ history. The efforts of the LGBTQ community have come a long way throughout the years and have overcome obstacles in order to make a difference in the world.

Numerous awards were presented throughout the ceremony, such as Allied Office/Department of the Year, Outstanding Program, Faculty/Staff Ally of the Year, Outstanding Faculty/Staff, Building Bridges, Outstanding Ally, Emerging Leader, Service to the LGBTQ Community and Outstanding LGBTQ Leadership.

Marie Stelmack, a senior biology major, said, “There have been some ups and downs, but overall, I’m proud to be a part of the LGBTQ community.” Stelmack and the other graduating seniors posed together proudly for a few pictures.

Winner of the Outstanding LGBTQ Leadership award, Skylar Pardue, a freshman mathematics major, said, “I’m really honored to be a part of this welcoming community. I’ve felt nothing but love and acceptance since day one.” As the Executive Director of QUMBC (Queers United Mobilized and Bringing Change), Pardue strives to improve the climate here on campus and create this accepting space.

With the help of numerous LGBTQ groups and organizations, such as Between Women, Freedom Alliance, QUMBC, Spectrum, B’More Proud Planning Committee and the Queer Leadership Council (QLC), individuals within the LGBTQ community have made significant changes in order to create a welcoming and comfortable environment for people to turn to and embrace.

Victoria Besner, a junior mathematics major, said, “It’s great that UMBC supports this community. We really lift each other up.” Along with some others, Besner stuck around after the ceremony to catch up and congratulate those who received awards.

“This celebration’s goal was to simply recognize and celebrate these individuals’ accomplishments. I think it was hugely successful and I think people had a good time,” said Kosinski.