‘Take pride in who you are’
Members of The University of Texas at Arlington Latino community and their families were invited to the first campus-wide Latino/Hispanic achievement ceremony last week. Celebrando el Éxito (“celebrating success”) honored, recognized and celebrated Latino students who worked hard to accomplish their higher education goals at UTA. Part of a series of specialized commencement celebrations, the event acknowledged Maverick graduates who earned their degrees in fall 2021, spring 2022 and summer 2022.
Joaquín Hernández began his academic career at Tarrant County College, where he earned an associate degree before transferring to UTA. Now set to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish translation and interpreting, he brought his parents to Celebrando el Éxito because representing his Hispanic heritage matters to him.
“I have finally reached this goal, not only for myself but for my parents as well,” said Hernández. His mother, in turn, said she was proud of her son for never giving up.
A mariachi band greeted guests as they arrived to Celebrando el Éxito. Among those in attendance was Dalia Vargas and her parents. The first in her family to receive a college degree, Vargas hopes to use her bachelor’s in education with a certificate in bilingual education to obtain a job in the Irving Independent School District, where she completed her clinical teaching hours.
Her father, Juan Jose, said he was looking forward to a “huge party” with the entire family to celebrate his daughter’s success. “I am so proud of her, it is hard for me to put into words,” he said. “It means a lot that my younger kids will see her example and be just like her in the future.”
Guests participated in the bilingual ceremony and heard the remarks of the keynote speaker, Texas House Rep. Ramón Romero Jr. Romero wished his sincerest enhorabuena, or “congratulations,” to the Mavericks earning their degrees from UT Arlington and offered advice on embracing their Hispanic heritage.
“Growing up in Fort Worth, people would try to call me Raymond and I would correct them saying, ‘it’s Ramón,’” said Romero. “My sister is Alejandra, not Ally. My brother is Juan, not John. Take pride in your name, in your identity, your immigrant roots and in who you are.”
The first Latino state representative from Tarrant County told Mavericks that breaking barriers and making a difference will be hard, but they “can have it all.”
“The immigrant story is beautiful, even through the struggles, sacrifices, trauma and neglect,” said Romero. “Everything in that story is what gives you power. You work harder, longer, stronger and better than everyone else. Be proud of your immigrant roots because you cannot move forward without looking back. And in looking back, give back to your community where you came from.”
The first achievement ceremony also celebrated undergraduates and graduates receiving Pat Brandenburg Endowed Scholarships. The Celebrando el Éxito program and family celebration was hosted by UTA’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Center for Mexican American Studies and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.