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Skidmore College

Cords, stoles and the creative stories they tell

May 14, 2019
by Julia Marco | Illustrations by Melissa Haas

Skidmore students, graduates, parents, professors, staff and others have all heard the proclamation: Creative Thought Matters.

It’s the thread that ties us together as a community, but it also emboldens individuals to pursue their own passions.

At Commencement, individual members of the Class of 2019 conclude their college journeys as a group processing into the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

As they arrive, you’ll see their matching black caps and gowns first, symbols that unite them with graduates throughout history. 

But, as the crowd grows, you’ll see something distinct about each grad — differing sashes, hoods, stoles and cords in red, purple, yellow, pink, green, gold and other shades.

From a crowd of commonality, symbols of individual expression and creative accomplishment shine. 

Here’s your guide to the colors of Commencement:


Illustration of black commencement gowns with yellow and white hoods
White or yellow Hoods 

All graduates wear a hood that symbolizes their degree from Skidmore. Those receiving a Bachelor of Arts will don hoods trimmed in white, a color representing the arts. Those earning a Bachelor of Science will don hoods trimmed with golden yellow, the color symbolizing the sciences.

Illustration of a gold medallion on a green ribbonGold medallions on green straps  

Periclean Honors Forum 

Seniors wearing this medallion are members of the Periclean Honors Forum. To be a member, they must complete Honors Forum courses, a senior-year capstone experience and an approved citizenship project. They must also demonstrate exemplary academic and social integrity and have a final GPA of 3.5 or higher with no history of two consecutive semesters below 3.5.  

Italian flag lapel pin illustrationFlag lapel pins 

Study abroad countries  

Seniors from the Class of 2019 studied abroad in 48 different countries. Those who participated in an international or domestic off-campus program through Skidmore may wear a flag of the host nation where they studied.  

I'll be wearing six pins from studying abroad and each one represents adventures, times I've been challenged and the many things I learned at Skidmore and abroad on my academic journey.
Lydia Bernard-Jones '19


Red commencement cord

Red Cords

All college honors 
Seniors with distinguished academic records who are graduating cum laude (3.650–3.749 GPA), magna cum laude (3.750–3.899 GPA) or summa cum laude (3.900–4.000 GPA).

Purple commencement cord

Purple Cords

Departmental honors 

For seniors who meet the various conditions or achieve academic standing specific to their department or program. While the qualifications differ, many involve having a GPA of 3.5 or higher for all work in the major, the completion of a capstone or thesis, a GPA of 3.0 or higher on all Skidmore work and approval by their department’s faculty.

Teal commencement cord

Teal Cords, blue Cords, pink Cords and more  

Various honor societies  

For the hundreds of graduating seniors who, thanks to high academic achievements, have been inducted into various honor societies.

Some of these include Alpha Kappa Delta (sociology), Delta Phi Alpha (German), Eta Sigma Phi (classics), Nu Rho Psi (neuroscience), Omicron Delta Epsilon (economics), Phi Alpha Theta (history), Phi Beta Kappa (all college), Pi Delta Phi (French), Pi Mu Epsilon (math), Pi Sigma Alpha (political science), Psi Chi (psychology), Sigma Delta Pi (world languages) and Sigma Pi Sigma (physics).  


These cords and stoles are worn by seniors who wish to carry symbols of diversity with them at Commencement.

They were given by the Offices of the Dean of Students and Student Diversity Programs at an event on May 13, prior to Commencement.

Students' accomplishments were celebrated and, in turn, the allies and mentors who supported them along the way were honored. Together, they celebrated the journeys of those who experienced Skidmore at the intersections of identities.

We salute you graduates for your persistence, your dedication to your dreams, your creative spirit and, above all, your courage. You inspire us. We are proud of you. And I trust that you are justifiably proud of yourself for everything that you have accomplished.
Philip A. Glotzbach
Skidmore College President


Lavender commencement cord

Rainbow or lavender Cords 

LGBTQIA+ pride 

For seniors who wish to signify pride in being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. The cord recognizes their accomplishments despite obstacles they may have experienced.

Commencement sash with an international flag pattern
Stoles with Flags, stripes or a rainbow of colors 

International students 

Each year, Skidmore welcomes students from around the world. To honor this, many international seniors choose to wear a stole inspired by the flag of their home country, a nod to where their stories began.  

Cinthia Duran Larrea '19, and her mentor Katherine Paarlberg-kvam embrace during Skidmore's Stoles and Cords Recognition Ceremony at Zankel Music Center.

“I am proud to wear my Ecuadorian stole because it represents how far I’ve come and the barriers I've dissolved, from language and culture to economic and educational differences.” – Cinthia Durán Larrea ’19


Illustration of a Commencement stole with yellow and green weaveStoles with a Yellow and green woven pattern 

First-generation students 

Seniors wearing this stole are the first generation to graduate from a four-year college. Many choose to wear this stole to celebrate their accomplishments and the hurdles they have overcome.   

Sash with the traditional colors of Kente, red, yellow, gold and blackStoles with Red, black and gold woven pattern  

Students of color 

The symbolism of the Kente is hundreds of years old, dating back to the legend of Ananse the spider in Ghana. Today, Kente cloth designs vary and different designs and colors carry special meanings and stories.

Many students of color from various cultural and ethnic heritages choose to wear this stole to acknowledge their ancestry and celebrate their feelings of accomplishment, community and pride.  

Etije Walker recognizes her mentor, Brenda Pashley during Skidmore's Stoles and Cords Recognition Ceremony at Zankel Music Center.

“Wearing the Kente stole means representing a long line of ancestors that weren’t even allowed to attend school. They didn’t have the opportunity to get to the stage. My degree is for them.” — Etije Walker ’19


Student life and leadership


Gold commencement cord

Gold Cords

Student government 

For members of the Student Government Association Executive Committee for representing the student body in academic, financial, student life, club and inclusion affairs.  

Yellow and green commencement cord

Yellow and green Cords

Senior cord  

For seniors who showed demonstrated interest in furthering Skidmore’s mission by participating in community-building, fundraising and support activities.

Wearing the Senior Cord at Commencement is about connection, and representing my investment in the future of Skidmore.
Robinson Rodriguez '19

Gold and white commencement cord 

Gold and white Cords 

Admissions Ambassadors  

For seniors who have aided the Office of Admissions in growing Skidmore through service as tour guides and hosts of prospective students and families.

My Ambassador cord reminds me that I’ve had a small part in crafting the future Skidmore student body, ensuring we'll always be a group of passionate individuals dedicated to this community.
Hannah Weighart '19
White commencement cord
White Cords

Senior Class Council Officers

For senior class officers to recognize their service in representing their peers on student senate and other student engagements.

I'm humbled and proud to wear this cord, as it reminds me and my classmates of our duty to serve one another in our respective next phases of life.
Nigel Smith '19, Class President
Sash that's green with yellow lettering that reads Skidmore AthleticsGreen Stoles with the Thoroughbred logo 


Seniors wearing this stole are members of one of Skidmore’s 19 varsity teams. The stole symbolizes each student’s dedication to excelling on and off the field or court, in and out of the pool, course or arena and in their classrooms, laboratories and studios.


Anything one of a kind  

Because Creative Thought Matters 

For seniors who want to express their stories, friend groups, clubs and more as they cross the stage and become alumni of Skidmore College.

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