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Drew’s AfriSCaD Hosts Rites of Passage Graduation Ceremony

The African student caucus celebrates graduating members

May 2023 – Drew University’s African Students Community at Drew (AfriSCaD) student caucus celebrated their graduating student members through a celebratory Rites of Passage ceremony.

The student-led celebration, moderated by PhD student Jane Okang, Doreen Mhlandhla T’24, and Monica Mafarachisi T’24, featured African drumming and traditional songs led by the AfriSCaD Choir, encouraging words from the Drew Theological School faculty and AfriSCaD alums, and individual ceremonious blessings for the graduating students.

AfriSCaD offers students the opportunity to form relationships, connections, and a sense of community while transitioning from Africa to the U.S. The caucus is a resource for African students in need of support navigating the differences within the foreign community and the ability to remain present to the African identity, cultures, and integrity.

“This is a time of celebration,” said Theological School Dean Edwin David Aponte. “But there are times in the future when you will feel weary; that you can’t go on. Remember that God will renew your strength—go forward knowing that is true.”

“I believe that as a people, as a church, and as people of faith, we cannot afford to fail,” said Professor of Hebrew Bible and AfriSCaD Advisor Kenneth Ngwa. “You had a dream and you came to Drew. We send you forward with pride, a sense of hope and determination, and professional expertise. Give birth to a new dream.”

James W. Pearsall Professor of Christian Ethics and African American Studies Traci West offered her thanks to the AfriSCaD students. “You have created a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-national, diverse by gender and theology, inclusive African Drew Theological space—and that is a gift to us.”

“We thank you for the ways that you have created a model for us to learn from,” continued West. “You are courageous leaders who will speak up and stand up. You have the courage to ask your questions—to be a source of encouragement to others and to yourselves.”

Ngwa and Assistant Professor of New Testament Althea Spencer-Miller officially transitioned each graduating student through a formal, individualized blessing. Students’ family members and other influential individuals were welcomed to participate in the ceremony.

After a closing prayer by PhD student Esther Inuwa, the celebration concluded with a community meal.

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