Reception celebrates international graduates

International student graduation sheds light on the resilience and hard work of multicultural students. Photo courtesy of Brandon Hoye

By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer

An international graduation reception will be held from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 3 in Cashion 506.

This semester, there are 28 graduating international students. There will also be a reception in the spring.

Most graduates this semester will be earning their bachelor’s degree, but there are masters and doctoral graduates in the group as well.

The reception is being hosted by International Student and Scholar Services, which provides guidance and support to those at Baylor who have an F-1 visa or J-1 visa, according to the ISSS webpage.

Brandon Hoye, international programs coordinator at ISSS, said students are encouraged to invite close family or friends who have been integral to their success.

“If they have either local families or friends through our Global Friendship Program … or have any staff members or faculty members that have really played a significant role in their time at Baylor, they’re welcome to invite them as guests as well to be part of that celebration,” Hoye said.

Dr. Jeffrey Hamilton, vice provost for global engagement, said that he will be in attendance and that ISSS staff has been invited.

Hoye said the reception has been occurring for three years, since 2018.

“One aspect that’s really been able to grow is finding the best ways to be able to celebrate our students,” Hoye said.

Hoye said a consistent tradition for the reception has been having the event’s keynote speaker be an international graduate who shares their experiences as an international student at Baylor, including challenges and triumphs.

“And also be able to give some advice to their fellow graduating international students about what the next steps will be for them — kind of some hope and just a celebration of their accomplishments,” Hoye said.

This year’s speaker is Ayda Giacoman — San Pedro Sula, Honduras senior. Giacoman has also worked for the Center for Global Engagement and been a CGE ambassador.

Giacoman said the reception makes the upcoming graduation feel real.

“It’s really giving international students a recognition for their hard work of working here and being at Baylor and graduating,” Giacoman said.

At the reception, the names of graduating students, along with their degree and their home country, will be listed aloud, providing a space to congratulate, cheer and clap for the students.

The event will also include “Hors d’oeuvres and graduating gifts,” according to its calendar description.

“We’ve also worked on customized, very nice group, small graduation gifts,” Hoye said. “We have a really nice ballpoint pen with the engraving for Baylor ISSS.”

Another feature of the event is photo opportunities with a backdrop, where students are welcome to wear their traditional dress from their home country or graduation regalia.

The picture can also include the student’s home country flag, which will be at the reception. Hoye said he gets a list of the graduating students and makes sure the flags are at the reception, similar to the International Thanksgiving Dinner.

Hoye said many different people had obstacles to go through during COVID-19, but many international students had additional barriers to try to persevere through in their studies at Baylor.

“In recognition of those additional barriers and the unique contributions they have to the university as literally global Bears from all around the world, we think from our office, being able to celebrate the triumphs they’ve had amid all the challenges is pretty special to do,” Hoye said.