As the school year ends, various communities on campus are taking time to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of the class of 2012.

On Friday, approximately 50 graduating students were recognized in the 13th Annual La Celebración Latina, a ceremony and banquet sponsored by The Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives. The event highlights the achievements made by graduating members from the Latino community while honoring the faculty who have worked alongside students.

La Celebración Latina presented Assistant Vice Provost Dilip Das with the Circle Award, which is given to those who have made significant contributions to the Latino and University communities.

After a brief introduction by host Mark Kamimura-Jiménez, the University’s director of graduate student success, the ceremony opened with Lester Monts, the senior vice provost for academic affairs, offering students a moment to reflect on their time at the University and how they have changed throughout their four years as a Wolverine.

“This is a day when the collective efforts of our students will be recognized and celebrated by family, colleagues, friends, staff and alumni alike,” Monts said. “By completing four years of rigorous academic and intellectual work at the University of Michigan, you most certainly are a very different person.”

Monts spoke about the ceremony’s theme of “Deja tu legado,” which means “Leave your legacy,” and explained that the theme aims to emphasize the importance of inspiring others with new, innovative ideas.

“Ahead of you are opportunities that will take you to new destinations, places that are just waiting to be discovered,” he said. “You will also have the means to create opportunities for those who come after you … to ensure that there will never be an end to your success.”

Postdoctoral Research Fellow Kristine Molina also spoke and focused on the ceremony’s theme of leaving a learning legacy to further explain how each student has made an impact on the University.

“Leaving a legacy does not necessitate leaving behind something tangible,” Molina said. “In fact, leaving a legacy, to me, is something that cannot be measured, but is rather defined by the actions we take that leave a mark on those that stay and have a bearing on those that come after us.”

Engineering graduate Eric Hernandez delivered the student address. He spoke about the continuity of education and explained that graduation does not conclude a student’s learning process.

“As students, we were all constantly learning,” he began. “Our parents, mentors, mentees (and) peers … we learned a lot from them, good or bad. Eventually, it became second nature for us to observe a situation, think about what to do, do it and reflect on that … It’s important for us as we leave here today and move on to the next chapters of our lives that we remember those lessons and remember that we may never stop learning.”

Public Policy graduate Reuben Kapp said his involvement with La Celebración Latina began his freshman year as he helped work the music and sound during the ceremony. This year he participated in the event.

“I’ve actually gotten to see the graduates do the same thing that we are doing,” Kapp said. “From those days, just watching them walk (I knew) in a couple years that it was going to be me. It’s amazing how fast four years went.”

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