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Inaugural Latinx graduation celebration held

Red Latinx stoles

June 05, 2023

140 stoles handed out

With about 200 family members, alumni, faculty, staff, and fellow students looking on, the Latinx Graduate Students Association (LGSA), Latino Cultural Center (LCC), and the Latino Alumni of MIT (LAMIT) held the inaugural Latinx Graduation on May 31, 2023, in the MIT Media Lab. 
 
The celebration acknowledges and honors the achievements of Latinx students graduating from MIT this year. Founded in 2019, the LGSA hopes this new celebration becomes an annual tradition.
 
“It was an honor to plan the first Institute-wide Latinx graduation ceremony, a process that began over a year ago with the mission to recognize not only the academic achievements of our community but also this large milestone within our culture and heritage. It was a celebration that embraced our shared stories, triumphs, and resilience, making each moment an unforgettable testament to the profound impact of our community's achievements,” said LCC President Isabella Salinas. 
 
Dr. Alma Jam, assistant director in the Office of Intercultural Engagement, thanked the families in attendance for their sacrifices along their students’ journey to and through MIT. Jam also thanked student leaders from LCC, LGSA, and LAMIT, and staff who planned and raised funds over the last year to make the event possible.

Three students sitting at a table at the celebration

“It was incredible to witness the pride, love, and support of graduates from loved ones at the ceremony. And thanks to the MIT Video Productions team, families were able to watch the webcast from all over the world. It felt like this celebration was not only for the students but also for the generations of loved ones who sacrificed so much over time to now see their children graduate from MIT,” Jam said.

“It filled my heart to see the entire MIT Latinx community in one room. To share this moment with family, virtually and physically, felt full circle and filled me with immense pride in what we’ve achieved. In planning the celebration, I hope I gave back a piece of what the community gave to me during my time at MIT. It excites me that the foundation of this event is laid so that future Latinx graduates can be honored for years to come," Ronnie Perdomo, LCC Vice-President said.
 
Guest speaker Jenny Larios Berlin MCP ’14, MBA ’15, entrepreneur in residence at the MIT Sloan Martin Trust Center and lecturer at MIT, cheered for the students in the audience as well as their family members, recognizing that many students were the first in their families to graduate from college. Before returning to work at MIT, Larios Berlin was co-founder and COO of Optimus Ride, a self-driving technologies startup based in Boston. She told students not to be afraid to ask for help as they launch their careers. Larios Berlin noted that she has a large community of colleagues and friends at MIT that she leans on for advice and help from time to time.
 
“Your spirit is strong and constantly changing. It is the fabric of MIT,” Berlin said. “It is important for you to pay it forward to your communities when you leave MIT.”
 
“We are so very grateful to the volunteers, supporters, and sponsors who helped make this dream of ours a reality. It was clear from those in attendance that the memories of this celebration will endure. We hope that the impact of this moment is carried onward through the lives of a promising generation who have faced insurmountable odds to persevere. It has been an honor to contribute to the community through organizing this inaugural event,” Albert Fernandez, LGSA President said.

More than 140 graduate and undergraduate students then received red stoles emblazoned with the words “Latinx MIT Class of 2023.” Later, they proudly wore the stoles to the ONEMIT ceremony held on June 1, an event for all graduating students featuring YouTuber and CrunchLabs founder Mark Rober as the keynote speaker.

Over the past few weeks, several other student affinity groups celebrated their graduation from MIT. LBGTQ+ Services held the Lavender Graduation to celebrate graduates from the LBGTQ+ and ally community, the MIT South Asian Alumni Association and MISTI South Asia also hosted an inaugural graduation celebration where students received their stoles, and the Black MIT graduation celebrated both graduate and undergraduate students where Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley gave the keynote address. On June 2, all members of the Class of 2023 received their diplomas at the commencement ceremony held on Killian Court.

Five people standing on the roof of the media lab building
(L- R) Dr. Alma Jam Assistant Director, Intercultural Engagement; Veronica Perdomo, LCC Vice-President;
Albert Fernandez, LGSA President; Isabella Salinas, LCC President; Moana Bentin, Senior Associate Director of Identity Based Alumni Communities

Photo by Jake Belcher

 

By Sarah Foote

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