Marymount holds first-ever Cultural Graduation Reception in celebration of diverse students

Marymount University hosts its inaugural Cultural Graduation celebration.

 

The Dean of Students, Equity & Inclusion Office at Marymount University hosted the institution’s first-ever Cultural Graduation Reception on Thursday afternoon, offering an opportunity to acknowledge the accomplishments of first-generation students and Saints from underrepresented groups in an intimate and inclusive environment.

The Class of 2021 cultural celebration, which was held virtually for both the undergraduate and graduate levels, included students from the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American, Arab, Black/Pan-African and Chicanx/Latinx communities. Saints were able to drop by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Center throughout the day in small groups, and honored the cultural influences that have contributed to their academic success.

Graduate Anna Moon, center, receives her Cultural Graduation certificate alongside Dean Brooke Berry, right, and Associate Director Tait Brooks, left.
Graduate Anna Moon, center, receives her Cultural Graduation certificate alongside Dean Brooke Berry, right, and Associate Director Tait Brooks, left.

 

“There were many moments during their journey when our graduates may have been fearful, hopeless and frustrated – afraid to be the first in their family to graduate from college, afraid to look and sound differently from their professors and classmates, afraid to be their authentic selves, afraid that they were not smart or talented enough, afraid to try and to fail,” said Brooke Berry, Dean of Students, Equity & Inclusion at Marymount University. “Though they may have been afraid, they confronted their fears and took advantage of the opportunity to actualize their dreams. They have exceeded expectations and defied the odds. Their strength and perseverance is inspiring and admirable.”

“We acknowledge and honor their ancestors and their tribes of family and friends that supported our graduates along the way,” added Tait Brooks, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Marymount University. “We hope our Saints revel in this moment, and celebrate their resilience, commitment and fortitude to triumph forward in prosperity, knowledge and wisdom.”

Lisette Benitez, center, celebrates becoming the first college graduate in her family alongside her mother and sister.
Lisette Benitez, center, celebrates becoming the first college graduate in her family alongside her mother and sister.

 

The following 11 students took part in Marymount’s inaugural Cultural Graduation Reception:
 

  • Lisette Benitez (Criminal Justice major, with a minor in Forensic and Criminal Investigations)
    • “First college graduate in my family, but not the last. Gracias, mami y papi!”
  • Pasang Gurung (BBA major in Finance)
    • “I am very proud to be a first generation student, and actually graduate from a college that is halfway across the world from my family.”
  • David Jandres Polio (Business Administration major with a focus on Accounting, and a minor in Law)
    • “Thank you to all my family, friends and professors that have given me the willingness to achieve my goals as a first-generation student. This journey wouldn’t have been the same without the support of all of you!”
  • Noel Lopez (Communication major with a minor in Business Administration)
    • “Thank you to Marymount for giving me the opportunity to grow as an individual. I will cherish the memories and hope to keep on inspiring others down a path to success. I love you, mom, and everyone back home for believing in me.”
  • Anna Moon (Mathematics major with a minor in Education)
    • “I am so thankful for the support and love from my family and friends. Through ups and downs, I know I can count on their support for whatever I decide to do.”
  • Rama Najib (Applied Information Technology major)
    • “Thank you to everyone who supported me throughout my whole journey at MU. I couldn’t have done it without you!”
  • Veronica Olivera (Business Administration major with a minor in International Business)
    • “I would like to thank my mentor, Dr. Ann Kennedy, and my MU professors. Each of my professors have helped me to grow as a person and become what I am now.”
  • Judy Ortega (Health Sciences and Pre-Physical Therapy major with a minor in Spanish)
    • “Thank you to my family and close friends for helping me get to this point. Thank you for being part of my growth and for helping me learn so much about myself. Also, shout out to the Center for Global Engagement for expanding my global perspective!”
  • Catherine Pineda (Psychology major with a minor in Communication)
    • “Most adolescents go to college and lose themselves. I came to Marymount University and discovered who I am at the root of my core. Prayer does not automatically fix things – however, it grants peace and different perspectives which often lead to solutions.”
  • Jasmine Roy (Biochemistry and Mathematics major with a minor in History)
    • “Thank you to my family, friends and community for constantly believing in me and pushing me to strive to be the best person I could possibly be.”
  • LaDonna White (Health Sciences major with an emphasis on Public Health, and a minor in Psychology)
    • “Through blood, sweat and some tears, I made it! Thank you to everyone who encouraged and supported me on this journey.”