Whittier College celebrated the 18th Annual Latinx Graduation Celebration in the Graham Athletic Center. During the ceremony, participants donned the traditional cap and gown and were formally recognized by President Linda Oubré.
Complete with traditional Latinx performances, the ceremony included English and Spanish speakers and honored the historical traditions from various parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Marcela Ramirez-Stapleton, interim director of the Cross-Cultural Center at the University of California, Irvine, served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. Ramirez-Stapleton has 15 years of experience in student affairs, higher education research, and public service, and is an expert in multicultural affairs and California cultural centers.
“An education is something that no one can take away from you. Today’s achievements are just the beginning of a life full of joy, health, and happiness,” said Ramirez-Stapleton addressing the graduates. “You have overcome great obstacles to get here and nothing has stopped you. You found a way to keep you commitments, especially the ones you made to yourselves. Graduates, I want you to look around this room and see how many people are counting on you. You are the leaders of this community. With consciousness, courage, and heart, you can do anything.”
After Ramirez-Stapleton’s speech, four seniors shared their own stories and spoke about their time at Whittier. Ivelis Colón ’19, Mariana Garcia ’19, Samuel Landa ’19, and Daniela Vega ’19 thanked their families, friends, professors, and staff for their support.
“Through our time here at Whittier, we have gained and lost friends. We have gained the skills to seek communities and other folks like us. So that we can grow, we must find other communities that don’t always look like us,” said Colón. “The community I found is evolving constantly and upholding the same values and ethics as myself. This community was the Office of Equity and Inclusion. They share a love that will resonate in me, even after I leave. I will forever be in debt for the support and accompaniment they provided.”
The ceremony, which serves as a kick off to Whittier’s Commencement Week activities, highlights the achievements and personal successes of graduating seniors in the spirit and traditions of Latinx cultures.