Coyotes celebrate commencement
There was a moment of smiles and momentary celebrations as a result of a mold-breaking impulse by speaker Thuy Thi Nguyen who took a selfie with the graduating class that was perfectly juxtaposed with the tone of some of the speeches – including her own – struggle and triumph. Much like the bittersweet reflections graduation ceremonies tend to invoke, the selfie moment was a moment of celebration after a list of acknowledged struggles students, faculty and guest speakers experienced.
The moment paid tribute to the dozens of graduating seniors who completed a step in their education at Lake Tahoe Community College Friday evening. Scores of family and friends gathered at the Community Playfield to honor and celebrate with the graduates. The ceremony was light-hearted and celebratory at times and heartfelt and reflective at others.
Nguyen spoke about the challenges she endured before ending up as the Interim President and CEO of the Community College League of California and co-publisher of the book “25 Vietnamese Americans in 25 Years,” which is archived in the Library of Congress. Her struggle involved her family’s near-miss of a life in Paraguay before suddenly getting the opportunity to move to the United States. It involved adapting to a new country and challenges of living in economically-challenged neighborhoods.
Faculty member Sara Pierce spoke about attending a college where a majority of the students had different points of view from hers, and having to adapt to that. She spoke about living through the Sept. 11 attacks while living in Spain and experiencing the compassion of people from other countries for Americans.
The student speeches, by Christopher Huot and Nemesis Ramirez also addressed their struggles. The college theme was “Leaving a Legacy,” and the speakers highlighted the ways in which they did so.
All speeches, of course, were also stories of redemption, or at the very least triumph over adversity, to some extent. By the end, students celebrated just that, their personal triumphs.
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