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Nazareth holds inaugural Lavender Graduation for LGBTQIA+ community

Published April 27, 2023

Nazareth held its inaugural Lavender Graduation ceremony on campus on April 25 to honor Nazareth’s LGBTQIA+ undergraduate and graduate students. Lavender Graduation ceremonies were established in 1995 and have been held at hundreds of institutions across the United States. At Nazareth, the ceremony was open to supporters of students who self-identified as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and 75 people attended. All are also welcome at Nazareth’s full Commencement ceremonies May 12 and 13.

“It was a wonderful turnout for the first event! We had everyone from parents and grandparents to friends to cheer their person on,” said Nicole Posluszny, assistant director of student engagement and leadership. “The committee who brought the ceremony to reality worked across departments to create a space where students could be their authentic self and be honored for their contributions to Nazareth.”

The Lavender Graduation ceremony was co-hosted by Culture, Community, and Belonging’s Atlas Center — Nazareth’s gender and sexuality resource center — and Student Engagement and Leadership. Senior Elena Baugh ’23, a biology major with a minor in psychology, spoke at the event and said she’s held many roles on campus, but the one she is most proud of is being an inclusive education excellence assistant at Atlas throughout her undergraduate years. 

“The last four years of my life here have been supported by Queerness on this campus,” said Baugh during her remarks at the ceremony. “My mentors are trans, bisexual, and nonbinary. The Atlas Center, supported by the Office of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Education have made our dreams for our Atlas space a reality — and we are just getting started.”

Lavender is important to LGBTQ+ history. According to the non-profit Human Rights Campaign, lavender combines the pink triangle that gay men were forced to wear in concentration camps and the black triangle designating lesbians as political prisoners in Nazi Germany. The LGBTQ+ civil rights movement took these symbols of hatred and combined them to make symbols of pride and community.

Nazareth plans to make the Lavender Graduation ceremony an annual tradition, one that represents a commitment to the inclusive environment Nazareth strives for.

“This event provided our community with the space to celebrate and recognize individuals for who they truly are and for what they bring to our community,” said Dean of Students Kim Harvey. “We are proud of each and every one of our students who participated in this inaugural event and for what they have contributed to creating a sense of belonging by bringing their whole selves to Naz.”

Baugh, who plans to attend University at Buffalo for a master's degree in genetics, genomics, and bioinformaticsafter graduation, said her time at Nazareth was defined by the close LGBTQ+ population. “I came into college still unsure of myself and my identity,” said Baugh. “Like many of you, I went through that questioning period and couldn’t quite pinpoint anything. You all have made me confident in my identity today. I am incredibly grateful to have been welcomed here with open arms, and I give you my sincerest congratulations for your achievements.” 

This summer, Nazareth invites students, faculty, and staff to march together in the Rochester Pride Parade on Saturday, July 15, at 1 p.m., part of the Rochester Pride Festival at Cobb’s Hill Park, 1 to 8 p.m. The Nazareth community can fill out this form to express interest in marching or volunteering at a booth during the event.


Nazareth University is an inclusive community of inspired learners, educators, and changemakers who for nearly 100 years have been driven by a bold commitment to action, empathy, equity, and leading innovation for the common good. Impact experiences are at the heart of a Nazareth education, preparing each student to discover within themselves the potential to cultivate positive change in their life's work, in any career field, and in a world that is constantly evolving and infinitely interconnected.

Our broad academic offerings present a range of study options typical of larger universities, yet achieved in our supportive campus culture. Nearly 2,100 undergrad and 600 graduate students enroll in degree and certificate programs and engage in collaborative, transformative learning experiences, preparing for the professions and society of today and tomorrow. In a learning community that purposefully integrates liberal arts and professional programs, Nazareth University graduates are able to launch a lifetime of impactful leadership in communities and workplaces near and far.