Date: Wednesday, May 10th, 2023
Time: 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST
Location: Jersey Mike's Arena
Reception: Immediately following the ceremony on the Livingston Lawn
Download the Rites of Passage Program Booklet
About the Rites of Passage Ceremony
The annual Rites of Passage Ceremony is a pre-commencement celebration to honor Black and Latine-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 Latine Rutgers University—New Brunswick Undergraduate and Graduate students who have earned their degrees between January 2023 and August 2023.
Participation in the Rites of Passage Ceremony and reception is free for graduates and guests! Registration includes:
- 1 free Kente cloth stole
- Free digital downloadable Rites of Passage Ceremony invites
- Unlimited guests for the ceremony and reception
Call for Auditions
We're looking for undergraduate and graduate student speakers, singers, dancers, spoken word poets, and emcees who are interested in sharing their talents with the graduating class of 2023.
Graduation Student Speakers, Performers, and Ceremony Emcees:
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 content
- Include themes that center Blackness/Black excellence, resilience, community, and empowerment
- 3-5 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 Student Performance Auditions:
- Spoken word
- SLAM team performance
- A combination of the above
- Comfortable performing in front of a large audience
- 3-5 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 21st. 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!
The 2023 Rites of Passage Ceremony will be held Wednesday, May 10, 2023 from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST at the Jersey Mike’s Arena. The event will also be streamed on YouTube.
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 Latine-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 Latine 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.
Students must register to participate in the ceremony by April 21st. Students can register beyond the April 21st deadline until the day of the Rites of Passage Ceremony on May 10th; however, we cannot guarantee you will receive a Rutgers Kente Stole if you register late. 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.
Graduates must register through GetInvolved
Rites of Passage Graduate Scholarship Award
The Rites of Passage Graduate Scholarship celebrates the accomplishments of a current Rutgers–New Brunswick graduating senior who will enroll in a Rutgers graduate program the upcoming fall. The application for this scholarship is now closed.
The Rites of Passage Scholarship is funded by the Rutgers African American Alumni Alliance (RAAA). RAAA Inc. will present this scholarship at the 2023 Rites of Passage Ceremony.
Event Volunteers (Open to faculty/staff/students/ alumni)
The Rites of Passage Ceremony is a signature program in the Black and Latine community at Rutgers and has existed for 31 years because our community participates, lends support, and is invested in the planning/execution process. Volunteers can sign up here
Rutgers University Faculty and Staff Processional
We invite Rutgers Faculty and Staff to join us in our faculty/staff opening procession and closing recession at the 31st Annual Rites of Passage Ceremony. Faculty and staff who are interested in joining the Paul Robeson Cultural Center and Center for Latino Arts and Culture will be seated on stage and are required to wear their academic regalia. Sign up for the Faculty/Staff Processional here
Check out photos from the 2022 Rites of Passage Ceremony
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Who can attend the Rites of Passage Ceremony
The ceremony centers Black and Latine-identified Rutgers University–New Brunswick Undergraduate and Graduate students who are expected to earn their degree between January 2023 and August 2023. All Rutgers University community members are invited to participate in the celebration.
- When and where is the 31st Annual Rites of Passage Ceremony?
This year's ceremony will take place on Wednesday, May 10th, from 3-5pm, at the Jersey Mike's Arena.
- How much does the Rites of Passage Ceremony and reception cost to participate?
The Rites of Passage Ceremony is free for graduates and guests.
- How do I register for the Rites of Passage Ceremony?
Please register through GetInvolved using this link: https://rutgers.campuslabs.com/engage/event/8850590
- How do I audition to be the class of 2023 speaker or performer?
All interested speakers and performers should sign up for auditions by Friday, April 7th, at 3:00PM using this form: https://go.rutgers.edu/rop23auditions
- Do I have to be graduating to perform or emcee the Rites of Passage Ceremony?
No, performers and emcees do not have to be graduating with the class of 2023 to audition and perform at the graduation; Only the undergraduate and graduate student speaker must be graduating.
- Who can receive a Kente Stole?
Kente stoles are available on a first-come, first-serve basis for all students who have registered for the Rites of Passage Ceremony. To increase the likelihood of you receiving a stole, you must register by April 21st and participate in the entire in-person ceremony.
- Can I pick up a Kente Stole if I am unable to participate in the Rites of Passage Ceremony?
Unfortunately, Kente Stoles are given out on a first come, first served basis to students that have registered and participated in the entire Rites of Passage Ceremony. We will not be able to save stoles or give out stoles early to students who cannot make the ceremony.
- Where do graduate line up for the ceremony?
Graduates will need to check-in between 1:30PM - 2:30PM 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 if I have a final exam on Wednesday, May 10th?
If you have a final exam scheduled that conflicts with the timing of the ceremony, please reach out to the Rites of Passage Ceremony Planning Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org for an absence request letter that you can send to your professor. This letter does not guarantee that you will be excused.
- 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/rutgers-new-brunswick-rbhs-commencement/steps-commencement 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?
Yes, there will be ADA seating at the JMA. Please ask the usher to direct you to ADA seating when you arrive. 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 accommodations?
To request disability accommodations for a guest or graduate, please contact the Paul Robeson Cultural Center by May 1st via email at email@example.com. You will receive a confirmation of your accommodations within two business days.
- How many 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-serve basis. Saving seats for guests will not be allowed.
- Is parking free at Jersey Mike's Arena parking lots?
Yes, parking is free in the green and yellow lots.
- General questions and concerns
If you have any questions or concerns related to the Rites of Passage Ceremony, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive a response to your inquiry within two business days.
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 CDC, New 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.
- Proof of vaccination is not required for graduates or guests at the Rites of Passage ceremony.
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.
Download the Rites of Passage Invitation
Check out our virtual graduate stole on Snapchat!
Be sure to tag @PRCCRutgers when you share on social!
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