Over fifty Texas State minority students gathered at the LBJ Teaching Theater Thursday, December 18th for a Multicultural Graduation Celebration and Reception. The event which served as a preliminary observance of the weekend’s commencement ceremonies was presented by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs in conjunction with the Coalition of Black Faculty and Staff and The Hispanic Policy Network. In attendance was Sean Dozier, a second generation student who became the first Latino to receive a degree in Industrial Engineering from Texas State. Dozier, whose father and grandfather are both engineers felt that it was only natural that he went into the same field. “I’m really good at math, but I don’t like biology or chemistry so I thought engineering would do just fine,” said Dozier. “It’s a great choice, good money and lifelong pursuit of perfection.” The ceremony began with Chairman for the Department of History and State Historian of Texas Dr. Frank De La Teja giving the processional welcome in both Spanish and English. He told students to say goodbye to Texas State, but to never forget it. Proceeding the welcome were two performances, one by former alumnus and president of the Native American Students Association Aaron Pyle and the other by director of Student Support Services Cheryl Lee. Pyle who played the flute was accompanied by two other students who played a drum and rainmaker. The three minute performance was encompassing of traditional Native American music. Lee, former alumnus and aspiring Gospel singer dedicated her song to all the people who inspired and helped the students get to their graduate milestone. Throughout the performance a slideshow displaying images of Texas State landmarks such as Old Main, LBJ and the bobcat displayed in the Quad were included in the plethora of pictures of students involved with campus organizations such as the Hobres Unidos, Black Women United, Mama’s Kitchen, Hip Hop Congress, and Latino Student Association to name of few.
Teary eyed parents and relatives wiped their faces as Dr. Jacqueline Cooper, assistant professor of Educational Administration and Psychological Services provided comic relief before she introduced the ceremony’s keynote speakers. Cooper reminisced and recalled her mother’s words after graduation. “Even if you didn’t learn anything, act like you got some sense,” she reiterated. Attendees laughed as she told students that were at a point where they could move on from Ramen Noodles to real spaghetti.
After a few minutes of encouraging words, Cooper handed over the microphone to Eugene Lee, artist in residence and artistic director of the Black and Latino Playwrights Conference. Lee wondered how he should approach his speech’s deliverance and decided to speak to students in a manner that President Elect Barrack Obama would. Lee stressed the importance of reaching the lucrative milestone of graduation and how change was prevalent and inevitable any situation. Following Lee was Fall 2008 Graduate Lizette Diaz, a first generation Hispanic student. Diaz shared personal details of the struggles and obstacles she overcame to attend Texas State. Through financial aid and the encouragement of her parents, Diaz finished in 3 ½ years with honors. “My parents made a lot of sacrifices working two or more jobs and I just wanted to make them proud by excelling in school,” said Diaz. “My next step is to go to law school.”
After Diaz’ speech, the names of students and recognition of designated family members, friends and teachers were announced as each student was presented with a certificate and colorful sash indicative of the student’s multicultural background.
The closing remarks made by Terrence Parker, Assistant Director of Retention Management and Planning congratulated students and welcomed them to “the elite group known as the few, the frown, and the graduated.” A reception in the Ballroom followed after.
by Ashley Cass
The class of Fall 2008 sit back and enjoy the Multicultural Graduation Celebration.
Dr. Joanne Smith, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dr. Sherri Benn, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Multicultural Student Affairs distributes certificates to proud graduates.
Photos by Christina Zambrano