Campus, News

Graduates ready their tassels for Cultural graduation ceremonies

As the semester comes to a close, graduating Long Beach State students are taking their hard-earned graduation robes to The Walter Pyramid and University Student Union Ballrooms for a conventional graduation with Cultural Graduation Ceremonies.

There are nine Cultural Graduation Ceremonies taking place for CSULB students. Both the Black/Pan African and Chicano/Latino graduation ceremonies will be held at The Walter Pyramid while others are taking place in the USU Ballrooms.

Cultural graduation ceremonies begin to kick off May 13 and will carry through the following Sunday, May 21.

Many graduates have sought out applications for Cultural Graduation Ceremonies in lieu of the commencement debacle.

Graduating students have expressed concern throughout the semester about commencement. The primary concerns for many students were not only the lack of a traditional name-reading ceremony, but also the cost of the graduation fee, which is only expected to increase graduation fee for the 2024 CSULB graduates.

“The main thing on my mind is they’re really having us pay $100 to graduate where it doesn’t even feel like an actual graduation,” said Louie Calzado, a fourth-year molecular biology major. “It doesn’t feel like the school provided me, with what I spent four years here for.”

Calzado said he will be attending the Pilipino Graduation Ceremony, which is the first ceremony taking place. CSULB’s Pilipino American Coalition organizing and hosting the event.

Fourth-year political science major Gerdon Donaire is the Cultural Chair for PAC and is also chairing the graduation ceremony. Donaire said PAC hopes to provide a space for graduates to be celebrated.

“We’re really excited to have an outlet for students to come to, even when the actual school graduation isn’t providing them what they wanted or expected,” Donaire said. “Even though it’s not going to be happening at actual graduation, they are going to be heard.”

The Pilipino Graduation Ceremony will provide a stole and certificate for graduates with a traditional name-reading.

Chicano/Latino and Black/Pan-African graduates will have graduation at The Walter Pyramid to look forward to. The Chicano/Latino Graduation Ceremony committee has worked to put together a traditional experience for students, while managing to accommodate for over 1,000 students and their families.

Second-year psychology major Teresa Falcon is actively involved in the planning for the Chicano/Latino graduation celebration, as she holds the chair position for the committee. Falcon helps to represent the Latinx Student Union in graduation committee meetings while helping to navigate the busy influx of graduate applications.

“There’s been a shift,” Falcon said. “A lot of people have said that they opted out from the regular ceremonies to do the cultural graduation.”

Students who identify as Hispanic or Latino that graduate within four years made up 34.50% of the graduating population for 2020, according to the California State University of Long Beach’s website.

“The application sold out in six days,” Falcon said. “It’s honestly never sold out in the past I don’t know how many years.”

Although only a fraction of graduating students will be able to experience graduation at The Walter Pyramid, the experience will be a cherished moment for the few. Participants in the Chicano/Latino graduation celebration will receive a graduation sash, certificate and grad gift commemorating their accomplishments.

Falcon said said she hopes graduates can take away a positive moment from the Cultural Graduation Ceremonies.

“They’ve all endured the challenges of upper education,” said Falcon “They were able to persevere their four plus years of education.”

Cultural Graduation Ceremonies are completely student-run and organized by volunteers. The many multicultural campus organizations like LSU and PAC along with their advisors have been diligently working to provide gradates with what they hope to be a traditional commencement.

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