When Xiomara Ramirez Maciel graduated from high school, her plans were initially to leave the United States to be with her parents in Mexico.

“I didn’t think it was right for me to go to college because I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it,” the liberal studies major said.

But with the help of her high school teacher to fill out financial aid forms and her friends to find housing and a car, Ramirez Maciel, a 2017 graduate of Redwood High School in Visalia, found a way to continue her career. dream.

On Saturday night, his aunt, cousins ​​and friends watched as the graduating class of 2022 walked across the stage at the 46th annual Fresno State Chicano/Latino Commencement. A common thread that ran through the ceremony for the hundreds of graduates was the dedication of success to their families.

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Graduate Joseph Espinoza waves a Mexican flag after crossing the stage to graduate at Fresno State’s 46th Annual Chicano/Latino Commencement Ceremony held at the Save Mart Center on Saturday, May 21, 2022. CRAIG KOHLRUSS [email protected]

And after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the stadium swelled with pride from family and friends for the last official ceremony of the year in Fresno State.

Ramirez Maciel, however, said two special people were missing from the celebration: his parents.

Her mother and father were expelled from the country when she was 11 years old. The fourth-grader first went with her family to Mexico, but she found it difficult to go to school there.

“My Spanish, when it came to reading and writing, it wasn’t the best,” she said. “I told them that I couldn’t go to school there.

Ramirez Maciel said she was lucky to have an aunt who lived in Visalia and took her in during the school year.

She visited her parents every summer, but said she was emotional thinking that they couldn’t be with her to experience the big milestones in her life.

“A lot of people always ask me, like, ‘It’s so hard, I don’t know how you do it.’ (But) I’m very used to them,” Ramirez Maciel said. “I’ve been without them for a long time, but when it comes to times like this, like even during my high school graduation, I I really wish they were here.”

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A grad student’s cap is decorated with the words, “Today I’m making my 2021 pretty proud,” at Fresno State’s 46th Annual Chicano/Latino Kickoff Ceremony held at the Save Mart Center on Saturday, May 21, 2022. CRAIG KOHLRUSS [email protected]resnobee.com

Fresno State Class of 2022

Saturday’s ceremony switched seamlessly from Spanish to English and included a reading by Juan Felipe Herrera, the 2015 American Poet Laureate who grew up in Fowler. Fresno State President Saul Jimenez Sandoval also spoke in Spanish and English.

It was the second time that Maricarmen Cuevas took the stage at the Chicano/Latino ceremony. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in 2020 and on Saturday walked for her master’s degree in commerce. This time, she dedicates her success to her grandfather, Nicolas Odilon Cuevas Nieto, who died suddenly last summer.

For Cuevas’ project, she created a brand for her grandfather’s pulque, which he made and sold in his hometown of Charco Frio, Queretaro, Mexico. Pulque is an alcoholic drink made from fermented agave, the same plant used to make tequila.

Cuevas, who is from Hanford, told his grandfather about his project, but “he passed away before I could start writing about it or doing any research,” Cuevas said.

She thought about making the idea of ​​the project a reality, but with the death of her grandfather, her pulque is no longer sold.

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Graduate students greet family and friends at the 46th Annual Fresno Chicano/Latino State Commencement Ceremony held at the Save Mart Center on Saturday, May 21, 2022. CRAIG KOHLRUSS [email protected]

She chose to go ahead with the project “because I needed a sense of closure, and I felt like just writing his story and then working on something that meant a lot to him, it really allowed me to close.”

Andrea Lizeth Ramirez Arana, a graduate in Spanish literature, felt at 21 that she was starting over since arriving in the United States and that she did not know English. She studied industrial design at the University of Guadalajara, but her credits did not transfer.

She learned English and transferred from Fresno City College to Fresno State with a 3.81 GPA and landed on the Dean’s and President’s lists.

She spent her time in college raising her 10-year-old daughter on her own after her husband passed away.

She said her daughter admires her now.

“She’s so happy and excited,” Ramirez Arana said. “She knows my teachers and stuff, so she’s super, super happy and proud. She always tells her friends about it and all that.

Ramirez Arana said she was going back for her master’s degree so she could eventually teach dual immersion classes in elementary school. But not before taking a year off to be with her daughter.

She said working full time, going to school and raising her daughter was a big pressure she hadn’t realized until now.

“It’s easy to say now,” she said. “Looking back, I’m like, ‘Wow, I did that.'”

Family and friends cheer and take photos from the stands during the 46th Annual Fresno Chicano/Latino State Kick-Off held at the Save Mart Center on Saturday, May 21, 2022. CRAIG KOHLRUSS [email protected]

The Education Lab is a grassroots journalism initiative that highlights education issues critical to the advancement of the San Joaquin Valley. It is funded by donors. Learn more about The Bee’s Education Lab on its website.

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