The LMU community came together on May 5, 2023, for the annual Día de Reconocimiento celebration held on the Drollinger Family Stage in Lawton Plaza followed by a reception in the Sculpture Garden. One hundred and thirty-six graduates and their families joined in this LMU tradition which celebrated the achievements of Latinx undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students during a bilingual program. Watch the video replay here.
The celebration was hosted by Chicano Latino Student Services (CLSS) and involved many Latinx staff and faculty members who helped bring the celebration to life including the Alumni and Family Engagement and Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies. Latinx graduates in the Class of 2023 were able to process on the stage with family members where they received the gift of a special Día de Reconocimiento stole that reads “Vamos Leones” and to commemorate the moment with a photo with their family.
This program, dedicated to the family members and loved ones of those students who were graduating, was a very special moment because it held two firsts: this was the first-time this event was held on the Drollinger Family Stage; and this was the first time that family members accompanied their Class of 2023 graduate to the stage for this moment.
Claudio Rodriguez, director for CLSS, opened the program by welcoming families first in Spanish and then in English. “Today, we recognize the sacrifices and contributions of your families and loved ones who have supported and encouraged you along the way,” said Rodriguez. “We also acknowledge the faculty and staff who have helped you navigate your academic journey and provided you with the tools to succeed. As you move into the next phase of your life, remember that the resiliency and determination that brought you here today will continue serving you well. Embrace the challenges ahead, knowing you have what it takes to overcome them.”
Alexia “Lexie” Pineda Soto ’16, Ed.D. ’23, a doctoral candidate from the LMU School of Education and coordinator for the LMU First To Go program, addressed the Class of 2023 as the keynote speaker. Soto will now be the first person in her family’s generational history to hold a doctorate degree. She shared these words of wisdom with graduates during the event: “Mi esperanza is that when you doubt your place, that you remember that your ancestors held on long enough so that you could become,” said Soto. “That you carry, in your venas, generational resistencia that asks you honor who your heart boldly asks you to be. And as you form and transform, hold onto this truth: That you’ll always be enough. You were enough yesterday, you are enough today, and you will be enough every single day, minute, and second thereafter.”
In closing, Soto encouraged graduates to dare: “Dare to understand what breaks our heart, dare to feel, dare to dream, dare to return to love, and dare to get in trouble, you give me the ability to believe a 100 times more, more to what I hold as a fundamental truth: That people need people, and Class of 2023, it is a privilege to need you, to learn how to build the next generation of love with you.”
Juan Mah y Busch, Ph.D., chair of the Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies department presented two awards to students who have excelled in their coursework, research, and service during their time at LMU. The recipients of this year’s awards were Carisa Aguilera-Dupnik ’23, a sociology major, and Quetzali Lopez ’23, a film and video production major.
After the formal program on the Drollinger Family Stage, graduates, friends, family members, and members of the LMU community headed to Sculpture Garden for light refreshments. A local mariachi band provided music as graduates and their families took photos and celebrated this milestone together.