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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As Latinos, making it through higher education is never easy. For some, there is the stress of being the first in our families to attend college or just being able to afford school in general. That’s why it’s special every time we hear about a fellow Latino’s success in the classroom.
This applies to Amado Candelario, a Harvard freshman, who is proof of overcoming barriers and following your college dreams. The world was first introduced to him last December when he shared a “reaction video” on his YouTube channel showing the exact moment he found out he was accepted into Harvard. The emotional video quickly went viral with over 33K views to this date. For Candelario, who was raised by his immigrant mother from Mexico and two sisters in West Lawn, Chicago, Harvard was always his dream.
“There were a lot of tears shed because it’s a big thing for somebody like me, for the community that I come from, to get accepted to a prestigious university like Harvard. For that, I’m grateful,” Candelario told 7NewsBoston after his video went viral.
First, let’s rewatch Amado Candelario finding out he got accepted to Harvard.
Some people sacrifice so much to make sure they get into their dream school. There is nothing more exciting than watching that hard work pay off for someone who deserves it. The world collectively celebrated for Candelario when he found out he was going to be in the new class at Harvard.
Getting into Harvard was one thing but fast forward almost a year later and Candelario is getting well-deserved recognition once again.
For this young man, getting to college was reason enough to celebrate. Candelario came from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago where going to college isn’t always the first choice for many. He sought higher education as a way to escape his circumstances and build a better future for himself and his family. Beyond just getting accepted to Harvard he also needed a way to pay for it. According to the school’s website, the total 2018-2019 cost of attending Harvard University without financial aid is $67,580 for tuition, room, board, and fees combined.
“I needed to figure out how to provide for myself and how I could give back to my mom and to my family that has done so much for me, and college seemed like the way to do that,” he told NBC News. “The only thing people ever talked about when you mentioned was how good it was and how it was the best post-secondary education you could get. I grew up in a lot of poverty and violence and I wanted something better for myself.”
His background and everything he overcame to be where he is has left a lasting impact.
Being one of the few low-income and first-generation students from Chicago in his graduating class has made Candelario a viral star once again. Few in his class to understand the magnitude of his achievement and now the world is taking notice.
“I’m the only kid at Harvard right now, class of 2023, that’s from Chicago and didn’t go to a selective enrollment school, a private school, a predominately affluent suburban school,” Candelario wrote in a tweet that has received more than 87,000 likes as of today. “I’m the only Chicago neighborhood school kid. It’s sad but I DID THAT and I’m proud of myself!!”
Candelario is defying statistics when it comes to Latinos getting into Harvard. He is one of only less than 16 percent of a total of 4.5 percent of accepted applicants that got into Harvard in 2019.
Getting to this point was never easy for him. Candelario attended Eric Solorio Academy High School, which was located on the Southwest Side of Chicago, a notoriously low-income area. It was there that he joined various programs that helped guide him through the college application process and was assisted with financial aid assistance.
The transition to college hasn’t been easy as well for Candelario. At times he feels like an outsider in a school where he’s one of very few that fully understand what it means to come to be a first-generation college student. These emotions have only fueled him to finish what is expected to be the first of many steps. While Candelario hasn’t declared an official concentration just yet, he told NBC News that he’s interested in pursuing political science and economics. He hopes with his education he can one day become a lawyer and help those that come from marginalized backgrounds.
“I feel like for kids who come from marginalized backgrounds, being realistic can limit them,” Candelario told NBC News. “I feel like you have to dream big and tell your intentions to the world. All of high school, even as a freshman, I told people I wanted to go to Harvard. I put it in my Instagram bio, even though I wasn’t accepted. There’s something powerful about manifesting and verbalizing what you want and telling yourself you are capable of that.”
Republican Governor Doug Ducey took an unprecedented stance this week when he applauded the decision to offer a discount to Arizona’s undocumented students. Last Thursday, the Arizona Board of Regents voted 8-0 to cut the tuition cost for DACA students.
In 2018, the Arizona Supreme Court had reversed in-state tuition eligibility for DACA students, which put graduation in jeopardy and education on hold for many. This was a huge set back from the 2015 victory, which came after almost a decade of fighting for in-state eligibility.
The cost to attend Arizona universities and/or colleges is estimated at around $11,00 for students with citizenship documentation. Students without documentation were required to pay out-of-state tuition which is around $30,000. Now, with the discounted rate, tuition for undocumented students will come down to around $16,000. This is still more than in-state tuition, but it does make the dream of obtaining a higher education, that is much closer for thousands of students.
Students in Arizona have shown their support for fair tuition for DACA students.
In a recent interview with KJZZ, Governor Ducey spoke at length on a range of topics, including immigration. He had stated in the past that he would support all measures of increased border security and yet has not signed any bills that would imply heavy added border measures.
“Well listen, I think somebody that graduates from an Arizona high school is an Arizona kid, and I want to see them have Arizona opportunities in front of them. So I congratulate the regents for the first step around this,” Governor Ducey told KJZZ. “But I do believe that if you are here and graduate from an Arizona high school, you should have the same opportunities that anyone else that graduates from Arizona high schools has.”
Gov. Ducey is celebrating the news that DACA student will receive lower tuition rates for college.
Keep in mind fewer than 13 percent of average Americans could pass that 100-question exam. In order to fulfill the graduation requirement, you pass 60 out of 100. Arizona is the first to state to pass such a law.
Regardless of his latest praise, people are still wary of Gov. Ducey’s longterm goals.
On the subject of white supremacy, it’s a toss-up. During this past 4th of July, Americans were divided on the Nike shoe issue. Some folks felt that it was unpatriotic for Nike to pull the plug on the Betsy Ross flag-inspired design, rallying being a white nationalist ideal, meanwhile, the majority of the rest of us, realized that this was a huge nod to the days of slavery and why hell would we celebrated that!?
Gov. Ducey’s own beliefs have caused some people to pause over the years.
At the time, Nike was ready to open a new facility in Arizona but then the governor pulled the Nike incentive package, angry at the fact that Nike had canceled the distribution of the colonial- era flag sneaker, which they felt was racially charged and not in sync with Nike values.
Democrats called him out for supporting ideas that were in line with the racist right-wing side of the Republican party.
Then, a week later, the Republican Governor flip-flopped and denied that he ever pulled the incentive packed. He welcomed the Nike manufacturing facility to Goodyear, Arizona. The new site is expected to create more than 500 full-time jobs.
It is no secret that before the Trump administration, Arizona was known for creating some of the harshest anti-immigration laws in the nation.
In 2014 Ducey – then the state’s treasurer and the former CEO of Stone Cold Creamery – threw his hat into the ring of politics, running against Governor Jan Brewer. He defeated her and then went on to also win his reelection in 2018.
During his two terms, Ducey has managed to stay out of the fray, from both sides of the political aisle.
For the most part, he hasn’t passed any anti-immigration policies that are on the level of his predecessor, but this an election year and anything could change.
What does this all mean for Arizona? The jury is still out on that one. His campaign website says very little about immigration, sticking mostly to “border security” issues in regard to drug trafficking.
For many, the deciding factor will be whether-or-not the governor will show support for notorious ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio recently announced that he is running for the office of sheriff again despite his infamous tenure characterized by his unapologetic and inhumane treatment of inmates and racial targeting of Latinos. He described his outside tents as “concentration camps” where migrants were housed outside in the 120-degree Arizona heat. In his time as sheriff of Maricopa County, more than 120 people died in his jails, 24 percent of those from suicide.
We will be ready to fight that battle should it come, but for right now, let’s have a moment to celebrate for our undocumented brothers and sisters from Arizona, this is some much needed good news. A chance, a hope, to seek the next level of education and plan for the future.