Rites of Passage

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 | 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST. 

The event will be held in-person at the Jersey Mike’s Arena and will be available to livestream/view virtually on YouTube live. 


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 January 2022 and August 2022. 

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, community, and celebrates the accomplishments of Black and Latinx students. 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 stole native to Ghana. Though Kente was developed in the 17th century by the Asante (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 participate in the entire in-person Rites of Passage Ceremony will be eligible to receive a kente stole. 


The 2022 Rites of Passage Ceremony will be held Wednesday, May 11, 2022 from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST at the Jersey Mike’s Arena. The event will be shown on YouTube live as well.

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 January 2022 and August 2022.

Graduates must register through GetInvolved

Students must register to participate in the ceremony by April 22nd. The late registration deadline is May 2nd. Late registrants may not receive a kente cloth stole, commemorative t-shirt, or your name listed in the program. Students who register will receive an additional email with information on what to expect the day of the ceremony. In order to be eligible to receive a Kente Stole, students must complete the registration process and participate in the entire in-person Rites of Passage Ceremony.


Participation Opportunities

Graduation Student Speakers, Performers, and Ceremony Emcee:

As part of the tradition of Rites of Passage, graduating students will have the opportunity to speak on their journey and capture this momentous moment, or perform by way of song, dance, slam poetry, or another unique talent. Additionally, non-graduates have the opportunity to participate as a ceremony Emcee. 

Speeches should include the following:

  • Relevant and uplifting
  • Include themes that center Blackness/Black excellence, resilience, community, and empowerment
  • 5 minutes maximum in length
  • Clear diction
  • Voice projection
  • Strong stage presence and delivery
  • Comfortable speaking in front of a large audience
  • Showcase who you are!

Types of Graduating Student Performance Auditions:

  • Spoken word
  • Dance
  • Song
  • Poetry
  • SLAM team performance
  • A combination of the above
  • Comfortable performing in front of a large audience
  • 5 minutes maximum in length

Ceremony Emcee Requirements:

  • Can follow a script
  • Clear diction
  • Voice projection
  • Strong personality/stage presence
  • Comfortable speaking in front of a large audience

After the Rites of Passage Committee concludes all auditions, we will notify you if you have been selected as a speaker, performer, or ceremony emcee by April 27th. At that time, selected speakers and performers will receive additional information from the committee.

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. will present this scholarship at the 2022 Rites of Passage Ceremony.

Volunteer Opportunities

Event Volunteers (Open to faculty/staff/students/ alumni)

The Rites of Passage Ceremony is a signature program in the Black and Latino community at Rutgers and has existed for 30  years because our community participates, lends support, and is invested in the planning/execution process. 

Rutgers University Faculty/Staff Processional

We invite Rutgers Faculty/Staff to join us in our faculty/staff opening procession and closing recession at the 30th Annual Rites of Passage Ceremony. Faculty/staff who are interested in joining the Paul Robeson Cultural Center will be seated on stage and are required to wear their academic regalia. 


Who can attend the Rites of Passage Ceremony

The ceremony centers Black and Latinx-identified Rutgers University–New Brunswick Undergraduate and Graduate students who are expected to earn their degree between January 2022 and August 2022. All Rutgers University community members are invited to participate in the celebration. 

Who can receive a Kent Stole?

Kente stoles are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. To increase the likelihood of graduating students receiving stoles, you must register by April 22nd and participate in the in-person ceremony.  

Where do graduate line up for the ceremony?

Graduates will need to check-in at 2:00PM at the Jersey Mike’s Arena. If students aren’t checked in with Event Staff by 2:30PM, they will not be part of the procession into the ceremony and instead, will be seated afterwards. 

What is the dress code for graduates?

Academic regalia is required for all graduates who will be participating in the in-person ceremony. Academic regalia consists of cap, gown, and hood (graduate students only). Regalia can be purchased from the Barnes and Noble Rutgers University Bookstore on Somerset Street. Please visit https://commencement.rutgers.edu/commencement/faq for more information on purchasing academic regalia. 

How do I view the ceremony virtually/livestream?

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

Will the ceremony be ADA accessible?

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

How do I coordinate disability accomodations?

To request disability accommodations for a guest or graduate, please contact the Paul Robeson Cultural Center by May 1st via email at rop@echo.rutgers.edu. You will receive a confirmation of your accommodations within two business days. 

How mant guests can I bring/Do I need tickets?

Graduates can bring an unlimited number of guests; there are no tickets required. Seats are limited and are on a first come, first served basis. Saving seats for guests will not be allowed. 

Is parking free at Jersey Mike's Arena parking lots?

Yes, parking is free. 

General questions and concerns

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.

COVID-19 Guidelines

The health and safety of the Rutgers University community remains our top priority. We ensure that all in-person events are carried out in a manner that complies with CDCNew Jersey Department of Health, and Rutgers University guidelines.

Face covering requirement:

  • Face masks are not required for graduates or guests participating in the Rites of Passage Ceremony. Face coverings are a matter of individual choice. As a practical matter, and in the event that the need arises, you should always carry a face covering.

Vaccination requirements:

  • All graduates and guests participating in the Rites of Passage ceremony are required to show proof of full vaccination or a COVID-19 negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to the event and must remain compliant with published COVID-19 protocols.
  • Reception/Outdoor events attendees are exempt from the proof of vaccine/negative test requirement.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, or have come in contact recently with anyone who has been infected with COVID-19, we kindly ask that you stay home.

All travelers, foreign or domestic, must adhere to the U.S. Department of State Travel Restrictions.

Please continue to check the event website for the most up to date information. 



Check out our virtual graduate stole on Snapchat!

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