Things That Matter

Fresno State Knows How To Throw A Fiesta With California’s Largest Latino Commencement Ceremony

Fresno State’s graduation, Saturday at the Save Mart Center, was the largest class in the school’s history with more than 6,200 students meeting requirements.

But it’s the school’s Chicano and Latino Commencement Celebration that really is making headlines. It’s the largest event of its kind in California.

Credit: @Fresno_State

The community came out to represent and represent they did. It was the largest group the university has ever seen in 43 years of hosting the event.

Si se pudo!

This year, nearly 1,200 Latinos crossed the finish line and because it was so full there were nearly 100 more on a waiting list!

Credit: @MLemus25

Seriously, people were waiting outside in the rain because the Save Mart Center, where the ceremony was held, had reached capacity.

Nearly half an hour into the ceremony, event organizers had to ask people to stop saving seats because family and friends were stuck outside in the rain trying to get in.

In an interview with the Fresno Bee, University First Lady Mary Castro referred to the huge attendance as “Bruno Mars numbers.”

Now that is serious graduation goals.

The commencement ceremony was a pure reflection and celebration of the Chicano and Latino identity.

Credit: @DanzantesAztlan / Twitter

The graduates and their families were serenaded by Mariachi Fresno State which played all the classics, including ‘Marcha de Zacatecas, and the traditional Mexican farewell song ‘Las Golondrinas.’

Then there was a 20-minute performance by Los Danzantes de Aztlan.

Many graduates took to Twitter to express their Latino pride and share their stories of struggle and success.

Credit: @Yaacckiiee / Twitter

Many in this year’s graduating class were the first of their family to graduate from college. Others expressed how much pride and gratitude they had for their families, friends, even dogs, who all came together to help contribute to their success.

Some were just grateful for how much pride Fresno State takes in its Chicano and Latino-identifying students.

Credit: @_topaaaz / Twitter

Like for real though, this is the biggest event of its kind in California and according to organizers possibly in the entire country. That deserves some serious respect.

Others took to Twitter to remind us that even at commencement ceremonies, we still know how to do great chisme.

Credit: @alphxlys / Twitter

Like shoutout to this señora for keeping it real.

And then there was this girl who’s novio just may win for best graduation gift. Ever.

Novios and novias take note: this is how you do graduation gifts.

READ: Her Parents Worked In Fields For 25 Years To Give Her The Opportunity To Go To College, So She Honored Their Sacrifices With This Graduation Photoshoot

‘Glee’ Creators Have Announced A College Fund They Are Creating For Naya Rivera’s Son

Entertainment

‘Glee’ Creators Have Announced A College Fund They Are Creating For Naya Rivera’s Son

Gregg Deguire / Getty Images

There are still a lot of questions surrounding Naya Rivera’s sudden and tragic death. The 33-year-old actress is survived by her young son Josey and the creators of “Glee” are coming together to help his future.

“Glee” creators Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan, and Brad Falchuk have announced a college fund for Naya Rivera’s son.

Josey Hollis Dorsey, who is 4 years old, was with his mother when she tragically died on Lake Piru in Ventura County, California. Since the discovery of Rivera’s body, the cast and creators of “Glee” have shared touching tributes to the actress and singer.

“Our hearts go out to her family, especially her mom Yolanda, who was a big part of the ‘Glee’ family and her son Josey,” reads the statement by the three creators. “The three of use are currently in the process of creating a college fund for the beautiful son Naya loved most of all.”

The statement comes with the backdrop that Rivera sacrificed her own life to save her son.

According to the official autopsy, Rivera’s cause fo death was drowning in Lake Piru. The actress had rented a pontoon boat for her and her son to enjoy some time together on the lake around the 4th of July holiday. According to officials, Rivera made the ultimate sacrifice for her son.

“She mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said in a press conference, according to CNN.

Her former “Glee” classmates remember Rivera as a loving and kind person.

It is clear that Rivera left an indelible mark on everyone she worked with. Her passion for life and her craft is evident in the constant outpouring of love from friends, family, and costars as they continue to try to make sense of the tragedy.

Rest in peace, Naya.

READ: Queer People Are Shouting Their Gratitude For Naya Rivera’s Trailblazing Character Santana Lopez

A Florida Teen Has Overcome Immense Obstacles, Including Homelessness, To Become His School’s Valedictorian

Things That Matter

A Florida Teen Has Overcome Immense Obstacles, Including Homelessness, To Become His School’s Valedictorian

Martin Folsom / Facebook

Right now we are in the midst of so much change. There is so much going on in the world – from a global pandemic that has left millions of us in social isolation to a brand new social justice movement in the wake of murder of unarmed Black men.

We’re being bombarded with so much serious news, it’s hard to remember that there are still people out there leading powerful, incredible lives and making a difference.

One Florida teen has overcome all the odds, including years of homeless, to graduate from his high school as valedictorian and we need to celebrate and recognize this huge accomplishment.

Martin Folsom graduated at the top of his class after struggling through years of homelessness.

Since he was a child, Martin Folsom and his mother Melva have been in and out of homelessness, according to Jacksonville television station WJXT.

Despite all the challenges he faced through the years, Folsom managed to keep his focus on his studies — and his efforts paid off when he was named his class’ valedictorian and graduated from Philip Randolph Career Academy in Jacksonville, FL.

“It kind of gave me a jolt in my chest a little bit, so it was a good feeling,” Folsom said in a video interview shared by KTRK. “It means a lot and it gives me a sense of all I’ve done and all I have accomplished was worth it.”

After college – Martin plans to attend Valdosta State University – he hopes to one day work for the FBI.

Martin credits his mom’s dedication and compassion for helping him succeed.

During his time in high school, Martin’s mom recalled desperately searching for a place to live with her son.

“Martin and I were in downtown McDonald’s and literally had nowhere to go,” she shared with WJXT. “I was on the phone calling people, calling organizations, and by the grace of God, we got into a shelter that day.”

Even with an uncertain living situation, Martin didn’t let that affect his studies.

“I never thought to myself, ‘I can’t do this anymore’ or ‘I’m done with this,'” explained the teen, who served as class president from freshman year through senior year. “It’s always been, ‘Well, it happened again and I’ve gotta keep myself up and keep moving forward.'”

He was set to walk across the stage last week for graduation, but that was canceled due to the pandemic.

Still, he isn’t letting that damper his spirits — especially since Martin had to overcome hurdle after hurdle to earn the high honor. He and his mom have struggled with homelessness since he was a kid, and throughout his four years of high school. They became homeless while fleeing Melva’s ex-husband, who has since been sentenced to 40 years in prison for murder.

Within two years, the mother and son reportedly lived in different shelters across five states before setting in Jacksonville.

“It’s been a rocky road, been a lot of hardships, but seeing myself here right now, about to graduate and go to college, it feels good knowing that all the stuff I’ve done, it was worth it,” Martin said.

He served as the class president for his grade for four years straight, from 9th grade to 12th grade. Now he will go on to college in the fall — and says that will be a big day for his family.

“As far as I know I’m the first person in my family to actually get a college degree,” he said.