Graduating from college is a big deal for every student, and those from marginalized communities often feel its impact even more.

The LatinX Grad Ceremony is a celebration for graduating Latinx or Hispanic students where these students and their friends and families can celebrate their academic achievements.

A Latinx graduate walking across the stage with her child was a memorable moment during a past ceremony.
A Latinx graduate walks across the stage with her child, a memorable moment during a past ceremony. Photo credit: LatinX Grad Ceremony

Students created the event in Spring 2019 as a rising number of Latinx and Hispanic students were graduating from WSU each semester. The event will showcase the barriers Latinx graduates have overcome while also celebrating these students and becoming an example for future generations of minority students.

According to Cristian Gutierrez, a LatinX Grad Ceremony adviser, the event is a place to share the community’s stories and efforts to make the country a better place for future generations.

It is not a replacement for Weber State University’s commencement ceremony, but it is an additional event created by students to tell their stories as Latinx students while also celebrating their culture and heritage.

The event includes both English and Spanish speakers, making it a safe and more inclusive event for attendees who only speak Spanish. The event has also included indigenous languages in previous years.

Having bilingual speakers is an essential aspect of the ceremony for Patricia Alatrista, an upcoming graduate receiving her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

“It’s given my dad an opportunity to fully understand the concept of graduating,” Alatrista said. “Him getting to see that, being proud and not being scared to ask for a translation.”

Additionally, the ceremony includes performances that represent the diverse culture of Latin America.

Gutierrez recalled a moment from a previous ceremony where a student carried her daughter as she received her stole and walked across the stage.

“This graduate, the daughter of immigrants, was a parent as well and had done exactly what so many parents wish when they make the journey to America: to provide their children with an opportunity. An opportunity we know as the American dream,” Gutierrez said.

Students who take part in the ceremony receive a special stole and certificate.

To students like Camila Becerril, who will complete her associate degree this spring semester, graduating means being recognized for the community’s efforts and showing how far they have come.

“Every degree means something, and every person who’s getting a degree is really important,” Becerril said.

This year’s ceremony will be held at the Dee Events Center on April 25 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Students eligible for participation must have graduated or be graduating in the 2020-21 fall, spring or summer semesters. They must also apply for graduation through the university and attend meetings and rehearsals for the event.

The deadline to apply for university graduation has already passed, but students can still apply to be a part of the ceremony on the LatinX Grad Ceremony page on WSU’s website.

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