Known as a Hispanic-Serving Institute, CSUSB has opened more doors for Latinx recognition by hosting a recognition ceremony for recent graduates.
On Thursday, November 21, the first Fall Latino Graduate Recognition Ceremony took place on campus in the Santos Manuel Student Union. A total of 113 students participated in the ceremony and were accompanied by their loved ones to celebrate their accomplishments.
“We are promoting equity and diversity in higher education,” stated Valentina Felix, member of Association of Latino Faculty, Staff, and Students (ALFSS) on how President Morales is a perfect example for the Latinx community on campus.
The officials of the ceremony gave graduates the chance to say a small message to whomever they’d like as they walk across the stage. “I was grateful to express how much I am thankful for all the sacrifices my mom made for me. To say it out loud was an amazing experience,” said Briana Calderon, a ceremony participant.
The ALFFS is a non-profit organization affiliated with the campus. Their mission is to encourage the involvement of the campus community on issues pertaining to the Latino community.
“Having cultural ceremonies to give recognition where it’s given is amazing, especially when it seems the odds are always against us,” said Georgia Santiago, another ceremony participant.
CSUSB has been recognized as one of the leading institutions for graduating Hispanic Students in the Nation. The ethnic composition of San Bernardino County is also leading in Latino residents with a high 53%. The student population on campus that identifies with the Latinx community is 63%.
“I’m proud to work at an institution that serves its population so well… I feel CSUSB does a great job serving its demographics in the Inland Empire,” said Brian Gaul, Assistant A.D. in Marketing and Communications.
Monica McMahon, member of the ALFSS explained how students have been requesting a Fall Latino Graduate Ceremony for a while now.
“Due to high demand, the ceremony will return every fall as long as there are enough participants to fill the quota needed,” McMahon revealed.
Alumni Juan Carlos Martinez stated during the ceremony, “I wish there was a Fall Latino grad ceremony when I attended CSUSB. During that time the ceremony only took place in the spring. It would’ve been nice if more of my friends and relatives could have celebrated with me.”
Keynote speaker Norma Barrera spoke upon her college experience during her time here at CSUSB and the struggle of growing up with language barriers.
“I remember in the first grade I asked my parents for help with my homework, I will never forget the disappointment in their eyes. A parent wanting to help but couldn’t,” Barrera shared.
Dr. Paz Maya Oliverez Vice president of Student Affairs spoke on the barriers the Latinx community is breaking and the changes they continue to make as time goes on.
“We are changing the face of this country, we are changing the face of this community and to me, that is something we should all be very proud of.”
Many members of the Latinx community attended the event to support and recognize the achievement. Maria Barragan, Coordinator for the Undocumented Student Success Center, stated, “It is important for me to know that we are setting an example and letting our student population know that you have the opportunity to be recognized and full-fill that four-year degree”.
Since 1985, ALFSS has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships to new and continuing CSUSB undergraduate and graduate students, including graduating high school seniors and college transfer students.
Madelyn Dinero, a Latinx community member stated, “Having a sense of community that wants to see you succeed and does so by helping you financially adds motivation for me in full-filling my degree.”
The Latino Recognition Ceremony will return in the Spring for the 2020 graduating class to celebrate their achievement while giving recognition to their culture.