The Kente Tradition
The Kente program was initiated at Siena Heights in 1992 by members of the main campus group SHAAKA, the Siena Heights African American Knowledge Association. Those African American students, now alumni, established the ceremony to honor their heritage, and recognize the challenges of pursuing and completing a college education, and motivate undergraduates of color to persist in their studies through to graduation.The goals of the Kente program are the same today, but the program now embraces and recognizes graduates of African descent from all SHU sites and programs. On the main campus, SHAAKA has evolved into the student groups, Men of Distinction and Sisterhood of Saints.
Kente stoles are woven in Ghana, where Kente cloth was originally the cloth of kings and queens. The stoles represent the pride of perseverance, the honor of accomplishment, and the importance of remembering your roots. Today’s bachelor’s degree (blue) stoles are embroidered with the ram’s horn, symbolizing humility and strength, wisdom and learning. The master’s degree (black) stoles carry the symbol of lifelong learning and the continued quest for knowledge.