Graduates have the opportunity to be recognized in cultural ceremonies

State Hornet Staff

As the spring commencement ceremonies draw near, Sacramento State is providing students from different cultures the opportunity to participate in smaller and more intimate recognition ceremonies to not only celebrate their accomplishments, but their identities too.

A few of the ceremonies will be recognizing [email protected] and [email protected], Asian-American and Pacific Islander and Lavender students, which are from marginalized communities and will now get the chance to unite as a group in a common space.

Sociology graduate student Mayra Villarreal is the chair of the [email protected] and [email protected]  Recognition Ceremony and will be amongst the students recognized.

“Each cultural group has its own history and to share that history through academia in an atmosphere, sheds light on the beauty of culture,” Villarreal said. “Sometimes we’re not always provided that space, but it’s important because it’s a part of who we are.”

Villarreal said most of the [email protected] ceremony will be in Spanish since most of the graduates are first-generation college students with parents who only speak Spanish, something the standard commencement does not offer.

“The intention of the ceremony is to have a space to recognize graduates in an atmosphere that’s more familiar, inviting and welcoming to family and friends,” Villarreal said.

As commencement is celebrated by seven different colleges on campus with thousands of people filling the Sleep Train Arena, the smaller ceremonies, hosted by programs and students, allow for graduates and their families to have a more meaningful experience.

Liberal studies major Valerie Gonzalez, who will also be participating in the [email protected] ceremony, said she is glad her father, who only speaks Spanish, will be able to share the experience without a language barrier

Gonzalez said being a graduating Latina is one of her biggest accomplishments as many face struggles in education.

“I’m proud to know that I’m beating many stereotypes and that as a double minority, I am one step closer to going on to higher education and returning to my neighborhood of East Salinas to set an example to all young Latinas living there,” Gonzalez said.

Although the [email protected] and [email protected] Recognition Ceremony has been going on for about 15 years, this year the Asian-American and Pacific Islander graduates will have their first ever ceremony.

After a few years of trying to put together an Asian-American and Pacific Islander Recognition Ceremony, Professor of Ethnic Studies Tim Fang was finally able to help coordinate it with the help of students.

“The ceremony is not just an opportunity for students but their family. It’s more like a community event, more personalized,” Fang said.

He said a lot of parents have not been to Sac State and attending cultural ceremonies will be a chance for them to see what the graduates have accomplished and where they did it.

More than 50 students will participate in the Asian-American and Pacific Islander ceremony  and at least 500 guests are expected to attend.

Gonzalez said such ceremonies are empowering because everyone can relate to each other more—unlike commencement.

“I think that it is easier to look up to and relate to someone who is not only of your same gender, but your same ethnicity. When we have cultural ceremonies, it’s a wonderful thing to look around and know that you can relate to all of the graduates among you, and also, that you are inspiring the next generation,”

As [email protected] and Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander celebrate their success and culture, the much smaller Lavender Graduation is a space for the LGBTQ community and allies to receive recognition.


Administrative Support Coordinator for the Pride Center Christopher Kent participated in the ceremony back in 2012 and today is helping set it up.


“For some folks, especially from marginalized identities, it is a special thing when they graduate,” Kent said. “ It’s time to take some time to celebrate them.”