“I grew up feeling I would not accomplish many great things in life,” Associated Students Inc. President Lizbeth Velasquez said from the podium at this year’s convocation. “Today I am proud to stand before you as an advocate of student needs.”
Velasquez spoke of her struggles growing up in East Los Angeles where she experienced gun violence, drugs and a lack of access to basic resources.
As a first generation college student, she spoke of the sacrifices her parents, who immigrated from Mexico, made for her in front of the near-capacity crowd at Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Friday morning.
“What difference can we make to impact the lives’ of our students?” she asked the crowd.
Her answer is to implement an automatic voter registration through the class registration portal.
“All students who want to make a difference politically, can,” she said.
She also aims to add a free legal clinic on campus. The legal services will help economically challenged students, she said.
President Jane Close Conoley closed the ceremony with remarks about accomplishments from the previous academic year and an update on the BEACH 2030 Initiative where she encouraged students and faculty to submit feedback.
“In the coming months you’ll be asked to determine what bold visionary concrete steps must be taken to achieve our goal,” Conoley said about the BEACH 2030 campaign. “I need your best and most creative ideas.”
The campaign looks to push the university towards being environmentally neutral with the help of technological improvements and cleaner transportation. The initiative will also address enrollment numbers and jobs in the community.
Despite the booming campus admittance, which has grown 20% since 2015, Conoley emphasized that the university may see declining enrollment numbers by 2030 due to lower birth rates.
“Look at the Beach and the forces surrounding us,” Conoley said. “Think about activities, traditions and practices that should be preserved, created or forgotten to ensure our future viability and exceptional success for 2030.”
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