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William S. Pittman Graduation Ceremony

2021 Virtual Ceremony Livestream

May 26, 2021, 6 p.m. ET

As an important Drexel University tradition, we celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of Drexel's graduating students of the African diaspora each year at our William Sidney Pittman Graduation Ceremony. In honor of William Sidney Pittman, the first African American graduate at Drexel, we recognize all graduates whose legacy and contributions to their respective fields have paved the way for success of others in their educational, personal, and professional endeavors.

About the Tradition

Drexel's Kente Cloth

William Sidney Pittman graduated with a diploma in architectural drawing in 1900 in what was then called the Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry. Since 2016, the University has sought to honor his trailblazing success with this distinct commencement event. The ceremony includes a recognition of both an undergraduate and graduate student with specialized awards, as well as the donning of the Drexel kente stole, symbolizing the excellence and contributions of students of the African diaspora at Drexel University.

The Kente Cloth

The kente cloth is a ceremonial garment originating in West Africa in the 12th century. Today, the kente cloth is a symbol of the African diaspora, and carries a deep, personal significance for the wearer. The stole is often seen ceremoniously donned onto participating students before the main commencement event by someone important to the graduate. Wearing the garment as an academic stole at graduation carries both historic and personal significance for graduates at schools all around the world.

Most Outstanding Student Awards

The Stephen R. Cox and Jasmine Y. Wright Awards recognize one undergraduate and one graduate student who have excelled academically and either overcome tremendous odds to be successful or have consistently made contributions that benefits others. The nomination process is open to all Drexel community members, and decisions are based on the recipients' service, leadership, or other distinctive efforts may have been to the campus, local, national or international community.

  • The Mr. Stephen R. Cox Most Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award – Mr. Stephen R. Cox graduated from Drexel University in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Atmospheric Sciences and a Master of Science degree in Biophysics and Biomedical Engineering in 1976. He is the founder and developer of the Greater Philadelphia Region Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (Philadelphia AMP) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Mr. Cox has helped the Alliance to substantially increase its capacity to recruit, develop, and support underrepresented minority STEM graduate students with full tuition and stipend assistance. With over 15 years of service, Mr. Cox has personally mentored Drexel students as undergraduates through their doctoral completion. Currently, he serves as the organization advisor for the Drexel Black Graduate Student Union and was recognized with an Outstanding Staff Award for his dedication.
  • The Ms. Jasmine Y. Wright Most Outstanding Graduate Student Award – Ms. Jasmine Y. Wright graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Bio Behavioral Health in 2011. Jasmine traveled to Ghana, The Gambia, and Senegal to gain maternal and child health knowledge in an effort to increase her overall understanding of health care and treatment from a global perspective. In 2015, she completed her Master of Public Health degree in Environmental and Occupational Health at Drexel University's School of Public Health. A charismatic and caring friend that was passionate about social justice issues plaguing minority communities, Jasmine was taken from us only a few short weeks after graduation in 2015. While her physical presence is sorely missed, her contributions to the world will live on through her published research and her family and friends.

Share Your Pittman Moment

We want you to share your Pittman Moment! At Drexel, we know that the placing of the kente stole is a significant moment in the ceremony, as each participant will choose someone special to take part in this celebratory moment. During the livestream, we hope that you will carry on this tradition at home and encourage you to post a photo or video of this moment on social media using the hashtag #ForeverDragons. And don't forget to tag @drexelone so that we can re-post!

Another way that you can share your story is through submitting to PaperClip. As a collection of unique stories about Drexel experiences written by students, we would love to include your experience participating in the Pittman ceremony. We hope you will use your voice and share your story with the world!

Submit Your PaperClip Story