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NMBCC celebrates first-year students during pinning ceremony



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Freshman Kandace Rippy is pinned by Breon Tyler, School of Global and International Studies accounting administrator, during the Freshman Pinning Ceremony on Wednesday evening in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. The ceremony aimed to welcome freshmen to IU and introduce them to black leaders on campus. Andrew Williams Buy Photos

The Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center welcomed first-year students of color Wednesday during the annual Freshman Pinning Ceremony. 

The ceremony focuses on academic life and is intended to create an opportunity for students to recognize the part they will play within the legacy of black achievement at IU. Students are also introduced to black student leaders, faculty, staff and community members at the event.

“There is a long history of people of color like yourselves being successful in this space,” NMBCC director Monica Johnson said.

The students were pinned by faculty, staff and graduate students. Pins came with a card providing congratulations and contact information from their pinner. 

Freshman Cynthia Kipkulei said to her, the pin symbolizes her academic journey.

“I’m a first generation, and I made it here,” Kipkulei said. “The pin symbolizes my commitment for the next four years.” 

Freshman Gabi Rasdall said she will use the pin as a motivator and a reminder of cultural history.

“It’s inspiration to get through the four years and to make our ancestors proud,” Rasdall said. “It means to have something to keep going, even if it gets stressful, and to have something as motivation to graduate.” 

Students received words of wisdom from faculty, staff and student leadership.

James C. Wimbush, vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs, advised the students to establish valuable relationships early on in their college careers with faculty.

“Getting to know them will enable you to be able to flourish academically, and also to have a better sense of the type of career you want,” Wimbush said.

Faculty members Dionne Danns and Carl Darnell presented their own advice. Danns embraced a message of individuality and academic persistence in her speech, while Darnell encouraged students to find what they love.


Students and faculty listen as Balfour Scholars Program Director Carl Darnell gives a motivational speech for first-year students during the Freshman Pinning Ceremony on Wednesday evening in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. Darnell recounted life experiences to advise students on college success.  Andrew Williams Buy Photos


“Ask for help,” Danns said. “Study hard. Read. Seek tutoring. Don’t worry about what other people think about you. This is your path. Walk it.” 

Johnson presented the Neal-Marshall pins to students. She explained the symbolic nature of the pin and recognized the successes of the alumni who had been pinned in prior programs.

“We have nothing to lose in this world but our chains,” Johnson said.

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