This spring, the three pre-commencement events hosted by the UNC Charlotte Alumni Association—the 49er Ring, Donning of the Kente and Legacy Draping ceremonies—experienced some of their largest attendance numbers yet.
At the annual 49er Ring Ceremony, 97 graduating seniors crossed the stage to receive their UNC Charlotte class rings. More than 220 relatives and friends cheered from the audience. After the ceremony, students were encouraged to dip their rings into the pan of “The 49er Miner,” located in the plaza across from the Popp Martin Student Union, to strengthen their ties to the University. During the ceremony, Madeline Keeter ’08, president of the Alumni Board of Directors, spoke about the impact of what occurred April 30.
“The tragedy of last week has made an impact on our entire University community, but we will not let an act of evil define who we are,” she said. “We stand united as one Niner Nation, and we emerge stronger together.”
The Donning of the Kente Ceremony, which is co-sponsored by the University’s Black Alumni Chapter, presented 168 students with handmade Kente stoles that honor their African heritage. With nearly 200 guests in attendance, this was the ceremony’s most impressive turnout to date. UNC Charlotte alumnus and Young Alumni Chapter 10 Under 10 Award recipient Ryan Jor El ’09, a professional wardrobe consultant, author, speaker and television host, was the event’s featured speaker. He stressed the importance of building strong relationships, especially as it relates to students developing their own sense of connection, collaboration and community.
Tears flowed freely at the second annual Legacy Draping Ceremony. Sixty-two legacy students, each who has at least one parent, stepparent, grandparent or sibling who graduated from UNC Charlotte, was draped in a vibrant gold stole by a loved one. For these families, a 49er education has become an important tradition. More than 150 guests attended the ceremony.
“This is truly a special bond that will unite you forever, not just as parent and child, grandparent and grandchild, or brothers and sisters, but as contemporaries,” said C.T. Lefler ’11, chair of the Legacy Alumni Network. “You are 49ers. You are alumni. You are legacies.”
These Alumni Association events, which are recent traditions held as part of the Commencement celebration, took place on Thursday, May 9, with the 49er Ring Ceremony and Legacy Draping Ceremony at the Popp Martin Student Union and the Donning of the Kente Ceremony in the Cone University Center.