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NAACP Stony Brook Chapter Presents First Annual Kushinda Ceremony

Naacp students 1
Students from the NAACP Executive Board (left to right): Cree Flournoy, Neville Hall, Ray Reinoso, Lance Bertrand, Bruni Moraza, Dean of Students Jerry Stein, Melisa Ruiz, Tiffany Bibby, Mamie Gladden, Marvin Colson, Briana Brown, Jarvis Watson and Lori Nash

Stony Brook University’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) hosted a ceremony this past spring at the Tabler Black Box Theater to recognize the achievements of graduating seniors who are traditionally from third world countries that have had marginalized histories. The executive board of the NAACP Stony Brook Chapter named the multicultural graduation “Kushinda,” which is derived from the East African languages of Dawida and Mwera and means “to overcome” or “to win.”

Tiffany Bibby, former second vice president of the group, envisioned the event for the Stony Brook campus. “Many collegiate institutions have held their own version of this ceremony across the nation. It does not take the place of the official graduation ceremony, and it is not exclusive to any group.”

The graduation recognition ceremony was planned by the executive board members and funded solely by donations. Light appetizers and refreshments were served as DJ Blacks (Tevin Hodge, public relations officer for the group) entertained guests until the welcome and opening remarks were presented by Ramon Reinoso, public relations officer, and Lori Nash, former secretary. Graduating seniors and guests were presented with spoken word and dance performances, a student video documentary, and poetry from Stony Brook students and faculty.

After a multicultural dinner, Lowell Hawthorne, president and CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill, presented the keynote address. Hawthorne is an esteemed member of the Caribbean community who owns the nation’s largest Caribbean franchise chain. His genuine passion as he addressed the graduating seniors and current students was unforgettable. Following his presentation, student awards were presented in the following categories:

Students (left to right): Jewelle Brown, Jennifer Heastrup, Neville Hall, Tiffany Bibby, Beth Charlot, Paloma Paultre and Tatiana Melebranche

Outstanding Female Leader: Cree Flournoy, Melisa Ruiz and Alicia Simmons
Outstanding Male Leader: Pascal Messavussu
Outstanding Activist: Christina Rodriguez
Outstanding Male Athlete: Miguel Maysonet
Outstanding Female Athlete: LaQuashia Hall
NAACP Recognition Award: Tiffany Bibby

All graduating seniors were then asked to stand as NAACP executive board members handed out medals inscribed “Kushinda, Keep Striving for Success.” All students repeated and signed a pledge to their success in front of peers, family, faculty and staff members thanking them for their support and investing time in their collegiate success.

The NAACP Stony Brook Chapter thanked all of the departments that supported the group’s vision to empower its graduates, to promote a sense of belonging to Stony Brook, to increase alumni support and to increase communication between students and faculty: Office of Advancement, Office of Admissions, Office of the Provost, Office of the President, Black Faculty and Staff Association, School of Social Welfare, Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill, and Island Cuisine.

Briana Brown succeeds Neville Hall Jr. as this year’s president of the NAACP Stony Brook Chapter. “I encourage all students to get involved within the campus community at Stony Brook, and also be on the lookout for NAACP Stony Brook chapter’s upcoming events,” she said.

On Friday, September 13, a Back-to-School Pep Rally will be held from 12 pm to 4 pm; on Sunday, November 17, the group will hosts its Image Awards in SAC Ballroom A from 7 pm to10 pm; and from Monday, November 18 through Monday, November 25, a community service project, Operation Christmas Child, will be underway. The NAACP SB chapter is also involved in other community service initiatives. For more information about these events, please email

NAACP Stony Brook Chapter Executive Board
President: Briana Brown
1st Vice President: Shaneell Burton
2nd Vice President: Nicole Sylvester
Treasurer: Charles Greenaway
Assistant Treasurer: Mohammad Tahir
Secretary: Brandon Bennett
Assistant Secretary: Gabby Batson
Director of Community Service/Youth Outreach: Quamina Belgrave
Event Coordinators: Jennifer Boateng, Sabrina Charles and Charisma Hollis
Public Relations: Julie Colon, Tevin Hodge, Esther Mutolo and Ray Reinoso
Graduate Advisor: Melisa Ruiz
Advisors: Marvin Colson and Mamie Gladden
Co-Advisors: Deborah La’Sassier and Jarvis Watson

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