First Multicultural Student Celebration Set for April 19

The Multicultural Student Celebration will combine two separate multicultural events, Sankofa and the MSC Awards, for the first time this year.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Multicultural Student Council will host the first Multicultural Student Celebration from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, April 19, in the Stetson Room at the Carlton Union Building.

Erin Dogette, PhD

“The event embodies Stetson’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, showcasing the strength and resilience of its multicultural student body,” said Erin Doggette, new Director of Diversity and Inclusion. “Students can learn about the rich histories, cultures and contributions of their peers as the event inspires academic and personal growth by highlighting persistence, community and leadership.” 

Carmen Johnson, JD

The event will begin with opening remarks by Doggette, followed by a speech from keynote speaker Carmen Johnson JD ‘12, executive officer for Institutional Inclusive Excellence. Then, members of the Stetson Community will distribute the stoles to graduating students prior to the passing of the Torch and Toast — featuring Stetson alum Chase Brown ’21, MBA ‘23. 

Rev. Todd Campbell

Prior to dinner, Rev. Todd Campbell, University Chaplain and Director of Religious and Spiritual Life, will lead the interfaith blessing. The MSC awards ceremony will take place after dinner followed by the new MSC Board introductions. 

“This event is vital for celebrating the hard work and dedication of historically marginalized and underrepresented students. It symbolizes the commitment to fostering an inclusive, empowering environment that values diversity,” Doggette said. “This year’s celebration will feature the integration of three new MSC organizations and offer stoles for first-generation WISE Peer Mentoring Program students for the first time.”

In previous years, the new Multicultural Student Celebration event was hosted as two separate events: Sankofa and MSC Awards. 

Davion Belk, MBA

“To me, the most important thing is that the experience is enhanced,” said Davion Belk ’16 MBA ’20, deputy chief of staff and student success advocate. “I think having one event instead of spreading resources across two, it allows for that. … It is important that the Multicultural Student Celebration still holds some of the tradition of both events combined in a way that flows well. That was very important for us, having one event honoring two different things.” 

Due to a number of attacks on different ethnic groups, Stetson implemented the inclusion of the celebration of Sankofa during the 2000s. Sankofa is a Twi word from the Akan Tribe of Ghana that loosely translates to “Go back and get it.” Its literal translation comes from an Akan proverb that reads, “It is not taboo to go back for what you forgot or left behind.” 

Patrick Coggins, PhD, JD, LLD

“There were national attacks on African American and other ethnic groups by the increasing number of hate groups in Florida,” said Senior Professor of Education Patrick Coggins, PhD, JD, LLD. “The faculty and staff thought that one way to counteract this negative anti-African American trend was to focus on teaching and spreading the word about the rich history and contributions of African Americans to the United States and the world.” 

The MSC Awards offers multicultural student organizations and students a space to be recognized for their continuous work and efforts to integrate diversity through awareness and recruitment of new students, as well as the impact that work has within the university and its community. 

Cayla Skeete

“As the Multicultural Student Council Chair from 2022 to 2024, I had the privilege of spearheading various impactful events alongside the MSC executive board, … revitalizing our campus with cultural diversity and engagement,” senior student Cayla Skeete said. “Through the awards ceremony, MSC organizations are honored for their dedication and hard work, with accolades like President of the Year, Organization of the Year, and Most Outstanding Program of the Year.” 

All members of the Stetson family are welcome to attend. If attending, please RSVP to the event. 

“This campus event is a celebration of our students’ success with a particular focus on the seniors,” Coggins said. “This is critical for students to leave our university on a positive note with a sense of belonging and respect for each person’s cultural background.”

– Andrea Mujica