Women and Gender Studies and LGBTQ+ Resources Center celebrate 2024 Lavender Graduation

by Camille Rimbawa

On the evening of April 23rd, the George Mason University’s LGBTQ+ Resources Center and the Women and Gender Studies Program (WGST) celebrated the annual Lavender & Women and Gender Studies Graduation, a special occasion celebrating George Mason GBTQ+ students, allies, and graduates of WGST. Twenty graduates were honored for their academic accomplishments and their dedication to the George Mason community.

Dr. David Corwin Powers Teaching and Scholarship Award recipient McKinley Green (second from left). Photo by Sarah Holland

LGBTQ+ Resources Center director Josh Kinchen said, “Lavender & Women and Gender Studies graduation is a long-standing tradition at Mason that allows both LGBTQ+, and ally students, along with WGST graduates, to share community and celebrate as they move to the next stage of their life journey.” 

The celebration of Lavender Graduations at George Mason started in 2009. Women and Gender Studies joined the celebration with their graduating students in 2012. Every year, graduates are presented with a lavender cord to wear at their commencement ceremonies.

This year’s event especially highlighted the presence of everlasting support that fuels the empowerment felt all throughout the university. The overwhelming sense of community became apparent as faculty spread words of kindness through their speeches. 

CapRose Pascarell and Ric Chollar Professional Service Award recipient TJ Pegg (third from left). Photo by Sarah Holland 

“To our graduates, you stand as beacons of hope and catalysts for change in a world that continues to strive for equality while others try to actively erase us,” said guest speaker Xavier Clark, MPA ’18, PhD ‘23, and Lambda Alumni Chapter president. Their words, along with others, emphasized the necessity of standing with one another in both times of triumph and adversity. Clark added, “Your dedication to understanding and advocating for the rights of all individuals, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation is commendable and inspiring—needed. You are needed.”

The welcoming space present on George Mason’s campus has been nationally recognized. Kinchen said, “Mason was newly ranked #7 nationally and #1 in Virginia for LGBTQ+ students by BestColleges and Campus Pride.” This new recognition celebrates the foundation of support the LGBTQ+ Resources Center and WGST Program has built and underlines their respective missions.

Congratulations to all the students, faculty, and staff who were recognized with awards, including:

  • Lindsay Lowry, BA student in Integrative Studies with a concentration in Women and Gender Studies, was awarded the Feminist Leadership Award. This award is given to a graduating senior who demonstrates scholarly excellence and activist leadership in the WGST program.
  • TJ Pegg, assistant director in Student Success Coaching, was awarded the Rose Pascarell and Ric Chollar Professional Service Award, which honors staff and administrative faculty who advance the well-being of Mason’s LGBTQ+ community through collaborative work.
  • McKinley Green, assistant professor of English, received the Dr. David Powers Corwin Scholarship and Teaching Award, which recognizes an instructional faculty whose teaching and/or scholarship centers the experiences of LGBTQ+ people and communities, with a focus on gender and sexuality, and a grounding in queerness, justice, and liberation.