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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

‘Sí, se puede’

Photo courtesy of Latinx Graduation Coalition

Latinx student graduation coalition celebrates their 2022 graduation. 

Founded in June 2019, the Latinx Graduation Coalition recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of the Latinx community at Texas A&M by offering a bilingual and inclusive graduation format. The ceremony for 2022 graduates will be held on Sunday, May 15 from 4-8 p.m. in Rudder Theatre.
International studies senior Alexia Hernandez, president of the Hispanic Presidents’ Council, said the event is different for every Aggie, but she personally finds it important as it reconnects her to her heritage.
“I have been stuck between two worlds most of my life, between an Americanized world and a Mexican world,” Hernandez said. “Having this event to celebrate the culture, and to bring different performers and have a bilingual aspect as well, is really important because I get to further deepen my connection with my culture and with others that also share the same experience as well.”
Political science and sociology senior and Latinx Graduation Coalition President Rachel Mondragon said the purpose of an inclusive graduation is to involve families whose native language is not English.
“I think it’s just extending out an invitation of feeling welcome to families of Latinx and Hispanic Aggies on campus,” Mondragon said. “You typically go to the A&M graduation and it’s purely in English, and some of these family members don’t understand what’s going on. They just sit there and [say], ‘Oh, yeah, they’re graduating,’ but not really knowing the importance behind it. Holding events such as this and other multicultural graduations highlights our culture and lets others know that we are inclusive of people from different backgrounds in the Aggie community.”
The Latinx Graduation Coalition is made up of 10 different boards including the Mexican Student Association, Council for Minority Student Affairs, Latinx Community and Advocacy Association, Latinx Graduate Student Association, MSC Student Conference on Latinx Affairs, MSC CAMAC: A Latinx Programming Committee, Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Inc., Latino Medical Student Association PLUS and Hispanic Presidents’ Council.
“I think my goal has always been the same,” Mondragon said. “It’s bringing in these families and bringing them closer to the graduate. This past semester, we fulfilled that goal in the fall graduation. I think it’s just trying to expand that even more and make ourselves a known presence on campus.”
Because A&M, one of the largest public universities in the country, was recently named a Hispanic Serving Institution, Hernandez said this is a significant year for the Latinx community and the nation.
“We’re a part of that stepping stone toward lifting our community into educational success. If there’s any year to uplift this ceremony, and to celebrate it and to highlight it, I think it would be this year,” Hernandez said. “This year is such a historic and special year and I hope that administration not only celebrates us actually being enrolled here, but actually fulfills the ‘S’ in Hispanic Serving Institution, and from this year, we can grow as a community and ensure that our students and our families are being supported.”
Economics senior Paige Beltran said it is important to hold events like this to promote inclusivity and diversity among communities at A&M.
“Specifically Latinos’ graduation, our ceremony really just brings inclusion and facilitates a place for our families to understand in their native tongue what is going on or what the Aggie traditions are,” Beltran said. “Whenever it’s in your native tongue, they understand and especially with it being a ceremony [like] this one, you don’t only get to celebrate with your Aggie family and get your degree, but with the Latino graduation you also get to celebrate with your family.”
Beltran said many of her fellow graduates are first-generation students with family members who never had the opportunity to experience a college graduation.
“What makes it so special on top of receiving your degree from Texas A&M, [is that] it dedicates a time for Latinx students to really pay homage to their parents, their community, their ancestors and their heritage,” Beltran said. “There were a lot of acts of selflessness that had to [be] made throughout the decades to allow us to attend the university today. It also represents prosperity within the Latino community. We’ve all taken this successful step forward while establishing a significant presence in our society. ”
Although Hernandez said the ceremony is not as inclusive as many would like it to be, it provides a place where students can incorporate their families into the experience of graduation.
“I would love to see this tradition expand further,” Hernandez said. “If we’re enrolling 25% of Hispanic students, that’s several tens of thousands and I don’t believe that this ceremony is going to even hit 1,000 students, which is OK, it’s great to have a more intimate ceremony with the people that I know and recognise, but I would like to see the ceremony expand and reach more of that community at A&M.”
Beyond the Latinx graduation, Beltran said A&M has many culturally-based ceremonies for students to participate in.
“It’s not only the Latinx graduation ceremony, we also have [Asian Pacific Islander Desi American] graduation ceremony and the Black African American Graduation Ceremony,” Beltran said. “I would love to see this continue just for the students who can participate among one another in celebration with their family and just really highlight our individual accomplishments.
“The Latinx reservation was only created here recently in 2019 and being that it’s so new, I know it’s going to continue and I know it’s only going to grow, and I hope the same for other ethnic students, other races and students. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to celebrate whenever you feel like you’re at home.”
Beltran said many Latinx students live by the saying “Sí, se puede,” which means “Yes, you can.”
“I think our main goal is really just to provide ourselves as a model of success for the future generations,” Beltran said. “It’s really an anthem, saying that ‘Yes, I can. Yes, you can. You’re more than enough. You can do it.’ I really live by that. I do hope that this graduation ceremony continues for not only us, but for everyone around us.”

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