University of Toronto gets ready for first-ever Black graduation ceremony

University of Toronto student Nasma Ahmed was on an internship in California a couple of years ago when a friend invited her to a special college event.It was held at U.C. Davis and the occasion was something Ahmed had never heard of — a celebration honouring African-American graduating students.“I remember walking into the space and thinking, ‘what in the world is this?’ ” recalls Ahmed, 21. “I didn’t even know this was a thing.”Two years later, Ahmed is making it “a thing” at U of T, which on Thursday evening will hold its first-ever Black graduation, believed to be the only one in Canada.The occasion, expected to attract 100 graduates from all three campuses in downtown Toronto, Scarborough and Mississauga, along with their families and friends, will fall on the last day of a grad season boasting 27 convocations at the country’s largest university. Students in the spotlight will include those who have just completed undergraduate, Master’s or PhD programs.Article Continued Below“We’re hoping this event will inspire other Black students,” says Ahmed, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in public policy and city studies at the Scarborough campus and will attend her official convocation Monday.Organizers also want to let undergrads and Black high school kids know that “we’re here and there is a community here, and you can be supported throughout your years at U of T.”In hosting the event, U of T is following in the footsteps of a number of U.S. colleges. In May, Harvard University in Boston held its first commencement for Black students.