Miguel ZaragozaMiguel Zaragoza

On Friday evening, May 28, 2010, Miguel Zaragoza addressed his fellow graduates as the student speaker at DVC’s commencement ceremony. Miguel took his place at the podium with family, friends, instructors and fellow graduates enthusiastically cheering him on. The words shared by this young man were an inspiration to all those who attended.

Miguel reflected on his time spent at DVC, acknowledging that many of his fellow graduates share a similar story, and each of them has cause to celebrate this milestone.

“My parents immigrated to this country looking for opportunities,” Miguel said. As a first-generation college student, he has taken full advantage of these opportunities.

He was first introduced to DVC through the EOPS Summer Institute program in 2007, he explained. In fall 2007 Miguel enrolled in the DVC Puente project, a transfer abridgment program at the community college that includes English, counseling and mentoring components. It was through this program that he was able to network and tap into the many resources at DVC that would contribute to his success, such as the Latino Student Alliance.

Puente helped make it possible for Miguel to apply and earn scholarships awarded by the Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, and the DVC Foundation, which will help make his future education possible. He will be transferring to UC Davis in the fall on a full-ride scholarship, and he gives most of the credit to Diablo Valley College and the support services provided for him.

Miguel also thanked and acknowledged the counselors at DVC for the support they gave him. He worked with many different counselors at DVC, each one contributing in their own way. He looks forward to eventually coming back to serve his community in the same way the counselors at DVC served him. Miguel also thanked the EOPS program at DVC. When he walked into the EOPS offices at DVC, he always felt welcomed and supported both inside and outside of school.

Miguel also passionately shared his concern that today we are living in a society where the workforce has become more demanding of its workers. “To make a contribution,” he said, “we all need an education, but with the state budget making cuts to education, we must all fight to preserve access to education, both for ourselves, and for future generations.

“We are in a tough time economically and socially; it is up to us and the future generations of this country to get it back to being the country it once was,” Miguel said, as he urged fellow graduates to take full advantage of all of their connections and personal resources; this is what helped him in his journey.

Before concluding, Miguel asked his family to stand.

“My family has been there for me since day one, supporting me in my educational goals. Dad; thank you for giving me what it takes to keep going in life, and for keeping a smile on throughout these tough times.

“To my brother Louie; thank you for making me laugh and being there with me in practically every aspect of my life. I know you will succeed, just keep on going.

“And to my mother: Mom; I could stand up here and talk to you for hours thanking you for everything you have done for me, leaving me with the knowledge and wisdom to just strive for the best. I mean, look where it brought me, not bad huh? But in all seriousness, I want to leave you this: no matter what happens and no matter where I am, I want you to know that I love you mama.”

In ending, Miguel took a moment to ask all of the graduates to stand, turn to the audience, and applaud their mothers, fathers, siblings, extended family, friends and anyone else who were there to support them on their journey.

“Today is just a stepping-stone to what is to come tomorrow,” said Miguel, who ended with a quote from Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.“