Wednesday evening marks the inaugural Texas A&M Latinx Graduation, which will allow graduates to participate in a bilingual ceremony.
The ceremony, which will be held May 8 at 6 p.m. in the Preston Geren Auditorium, will offer the friends and family of 54 graduates the opportunity to participate in the Aggie community through the awarding of stoles and a poem to each graduate. Andrea Flores, Class of 2019 president, initially gathered a group of 15 students to organize the event. Founding members of the ceremony come from various Latinx organizations, including MSC CAMAC, MSC SCOLA, LCAA, MSA and CMSA.
All students were invited to participate in the ceremony, not just members of the Latinx community. Alejandra Moreno Arreola, founding member and kinesiology senior, said the purpose of the ceremony is primarily to offer family members of graduates the opportunity to understand graduates’ experiences at A&M.
“This graduation is going to be in both English and Spanish so that they are able to understand what it means for us to actually cross the stage here at Texas A&M and the sacrifices that we put in,” Arreola said. “It’s for anybody whose families may not be fluent English speakers, specifically.”
Economics senior and founding member Metzli Sanchez said the graduation was met with opposition from inside and outside of the Latinx community. However, a large portion of this backlash stemmed from confusion regarding the purpose of the ceremony, university studies senior and founding member Vanessa Fernandez said.
“You have people who feel like their traditions are being attacked,” Sanchez said. “We’re not trying to take down any traditions; we’re trying to add to them. We want this to be an Aggie thing too — not all Aggies speak the same language — and we wanted a space where we can also celebrate.”
Along with the challenge of opposition from some of the student body, urban and regional planning senior and founding member Carlo Chunga Pizzaro said funding the ceremony was another hurdle. The group intends to continue the Latinx Graduation ceremony in future years and hopes university administration will get involved in upcoming ceremonies.
“We actually did invite different admin to the ceremony so they can see what it’s like and they can see the importance of it,” Chunga said. “I hope that I see more administration help and support for this.”
Sanchez said her father was unable to understand her New Student Conference, so she is looking forward to seeing him understand such a special moment at A&M.
“I used to be ashamed for being Latinx, so this is personal for me,” Sanchez said. “And I want him to see me really take my culture and really take pride in it, and I feel like that would give him the most joy, so it’s definitely for my dad.”