Wednesday, May 12, 2021 | 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST.

The event will be held on YouTube live; please check back for more instructions on how to join.

About the Rites of Passage Ceremony

The annual Rites of Passage Ceremony is a pre-commencement celebration to honor Black and Latinx-identified students who through resolute persistence have successfully completed an undergraduate or graduate degree at Rutgers University—New Brunswick. The event recognizes their accomplishments, hard work, and dedication, while simultaneously acknowledging the accomplishments of our student’s families and networks of support. Distinguished speakers, student awards, performances, and the incorporation of African culture and traditions—specifically the culminating Kente Stole presentation—all add to the vibrancy of this celebratory day.

Participation in the Rites of Passage Graduation Ceremony is open to all Black and Latinx Rutgers University—New Brunswick Undergraduate and Graduate students who have earned their degree between Fall 2020 and Summer 2021.

History of Rites of Passage

The Rites of Passage Ceremony was established in 1992 by Juanita Jones-Daly to fill the need to provide a sense of community and belonging for Black and Latinx identified students. The ceremony traditionally features distinguished speakers, live performances, and the incorporation of African culture and traditions—specifically the culminating Kente Stole presentation. The ceremony, led by the Paul Robeson Cultural Center aims to provide our community with a cultural pre-commencement experience that draws on fellowship, celebrates the life and legacy of Paul Robeson. At the Rites of Passage Ceremony diversity at Rutgers is given an enhanced meaning as it extends notions of community, and allows our students and families to see themselves reflected in the university’s efforts to reward, acknowledge, and celebrate academic achievement.

The Kente Stole Presentation

During the ceremony, each graduate will be presented with a Kente sloth, native to Ghana. Though Kente was developed in the 17th century by the Asanse (Ashanti) people, it has roots in a long tradition of African weaving, dating back to about 3000 B.C. Often reserved for royalty, the Kente Stole Presentation acknowledges that our achievement is made possible by the support of family, friends, and loved ones. This “passing of the torch” recognizes the contributions and sacrifices of our ancestors on whose shoulders we continue to stand in pursuit of our goals. Only students who have registered and completed their virtual slide by the established date will be listed on the Rites of Passage Ceremony page and be eligible to receive a kente stole.

LOCATION

The 2021 Virtual Rites of Passage Ceremony will be held Wednesday, May 12, 2021 from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST. The event will be held on YouTube live; we ask that all attendees rsvp through this process.

GRADUATE REGISTRATION

Participation in the Rites of Passage Ceremony is targeted toward all Black and Latinx Undergraduate and Graduate Rutgers University – New Brunswick students who are expected to earn their degree between Fall 2020 and Summer 2021.

Opportunities to speak/perform at the ceremony are listed below.

Students must register to participate in the ceremony by April 21st. Students who register will receive an additional email with information on how to participate in the Virtual Rites of Passage Ceremony. In order to be eligible to receive a Kente Stole, students must complete both steps of the registration process. 

In order to be eligible to receive a Kente Stole, students must complete both steps of the registration process. 

PARTICIPATION OPPORTUNITIES

There are various ways the greater Paul Robeson Cultural Center community can engage in this years’ Annual Rites of Passage ceremony. Are you a Rutgers alum that would like to share your ROP memory? Or maybe a graduating senior with a message for the graduating class? During this year’s Rites of Passage we have the opportunity to feature select graduating student speeches, alum messages, Rutgers faculty/staff clips, shoutouts, and spoken word! 

Graduation Student Speakers & Performers:

As part of the tradition of Rites of Passage, graduating student speakers will have the opportunity to speak on their journey and capture this momentous moment. If you or someone you know is a graduating senior with a message to share, point them here! To have your message considered to feature in this year’s Rites of Passage Ceremony, fill out this form by April 14th, 2021 to upload a draft video. Final videos will be due April 23rd and should be:

  • Relevant and uplifting
  • Include themes around Black excellence, resilience, agility, and adaptiveness
  • 5 minutes maximum in length
  • Filmed landscape
  • Video should be well lit
  • Clear audio
  • Clear diction
  • Regalia or cultural excellence attire (no jeans, t-shirts, workout attire, etc.,)
  • Showcase who you are! 

Types of Graduating Student Submissions:

  • Standard Speech 
  • Spoken word
  • Poetry
  • SLAM team performance
  • A combination

After the Rites of Passage Committee reviews the videos, we will notify you if you have been selected as a speaker or performer by April 16th. At that time selected speakers and performers will receive additional information from the committee. 

Other Featured ROP Messages, Shoutouts, and Clips

In addition to graduating student speakers, we will also feature select messages from the Rutgers community to highlight the vibrant connections and traditions surrounding Rites of Passage! These messages can come from Rutgers students, graduating students, faculty/staff, and alumni! Other featured messages, shoutouts, and clips include:  

  • Words of affirmation
  • Congratulatory acknowledgments
  • ROP memories
  • PRCC or CLAC impact messages

These featured ROP messages, shoutouts, and clips should still adhere to the following video parameters:

  • Relevant and uplifting
  • 1 minute maximum in length
  • Filmed landscape
  • Video should be well lit
  • Clear audio
  • Clear diction
  • Regalia or cultural excellence attire
  • Fun!

Be sure to fill out this form by April 14th, 2021 to be considered! Note that due to time constraints of the virtual ceremony, there may be videos that are not accepted for the ROP ceremony, but may be featured in other ways through the Paul Robeson Cultural Center.

We’re excited for you to be a part of the Rites of Passage Ceremony!

Rites of Passage Graduate Scholarship Award

The Rites of Passage Graduate Scholarship celebrates the accomplishments of a current Rutgers University – New Brunswick graduating senior who will enroll in a Rutgers graduate program the upcoming fall. 

The Rites of Passage Scholarship is funded by the Rutgers African American Alumni Alliance (RAAA). RAAA, Inc. strives to foster and enhance unity amongst Alumni, students, faculty and staff of African ancestry via programming and active participation in the lives of students. It is their goal to harness the potential of the Rutgers African American Alumni network to be the voice of their constituents to affect positive change at Rutgers University and the community at large.

Scholarship Submissions must be submitted by April 21st  to be considered. The scholarship is typically applied to the upcoming Fall semester of your graduate program.

Apply for the graduate scholarship.

Frequently Asked Questions

The ceremony centers Black and Latinx-identified Rutgers University–New Brunswick Undergraduate and Graduate students who are expected to earn their degree between January 2021 and October 2021. All Rutgers University community members are invited to participate in the virtual celebration.

Kente stoles are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. To increase the likelihood of graduating students receiving stoles, you must register and submit your commemorative slide. Limited availability.

April 21st is the last day to submit your information to be included in the Rites of Passage Virtual Ceremony. Unfortunately, due to the nature of virtual ceremonies and technology capabilities, no late registrations are able to be accepted.

  • Use the camera app on your iPhone, android, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.
  • Wipe your device’s camera lens with a cloth before you start recording. This will ensure a crisper video quality.
  • Keep the device far enough away from your face to ensure your entire head is in the shot.  
  • Record horizontally, often referred to as a landscape format. DO NOT hold the phone vertically, like you might when recording an Instagram Story or Snapchat video.
  • Hold or prop up the device at a flattering angle. If possible, the device should be at eye level or slightly higher.
  •  If you are holding the device (iPhone, tablet, etc.), try to keep the device steady to avoid a shaky video.
  • Look directly at your device’s camera lens when recording.
  • Keep your message concise. The video should not exceed one-minute in length. Consider writing down your message and practice before you start recording.
  • Record in a quiet space.
  • Record in a well-lit space. Natural light is preferred, so if you are recording inside, try to face a window. If there are no windows in your space, turn on all artificial lights and face the light source. DO NOT record with the window or light source BEHIND you. This will result in a dark video.

The link to view the virtual ceremony will be made publicly available on the Paul Robeson Cultural Center website and on all PRCC social media channels. The link will also be sent via email to all virtual ceremony registrants. The ceremony will also be streamed via YouTube live.

Both the Data Collection Website and the Virtual Ceremony Website will be screen reader capable (VPAT and WCAG 2.1 Compliant).

If you have any questions or concerns related to the Rites of Passage Ceremony, please email rop@echo.rutgers.edu. You will receive a response to your inquiry within two business days.

Check out our virtual graduate stole on Snapchat!

Be sure to tag @PRCCRutgers when you share on social!
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