With graduation just around the corner, Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) has been planning special congratulatories for Northwestern undergraduate students of color. The Latinx congratulatory on June 21 will celebrate the accomplishments of Hispanic/Latinx students and cater to their unique cultural background.
MSA collaborated with the Latina Latino Studies program and the Latino Alumni of Northwestern (LANU) to create the Latinx congratulatory, said Cecilia Gomez, an MSA graduate assistant in charge of coordinating the celebration. Gomez became involved last year, and is now working to make it more inclusive for students and their families.
In order to make what Gomez called an “affirming and validating space” for attendees, the event is bilingual and widely accessible. Presentations in Spanish will have English subtitles, and vice versa. Even the online livestream, which was implemented last year to reach guests who couldn’t make it, is translated.
“To many students, their families are Spanish speakers only and this space allows for them to fully understand and engage in the celebration,” Gomez said. “This is a day to celebrate them as well.”
The event also does not have a cap on the number of attendees, another intentional act to account for large Latinx families. Graduates will be able to invite as many relatives as they like, without feeling restricted by the language spoken or number of guests permitted.
By not containing the number of guests, however, the planning committee is running out of space to host the rapidly growing celebration. Last year, about 400 people attended, 40 of whom were graduates. As of May 11 this year, 61 graduates had registered, meaning an even larger increase in the attending population. Gomez said space is a good issue to have, though: it shows how the event is becoming more well-known and inclusive to the Latinx community.
Celebrating Latinx culture is the primary goal of the congratulatory, so the committee plans for traditional performances to entertain attendees. Last year, ballet folklorico dancers started off the congratulatory, and mariachi performed during the reception. Since both were well-received, the planning committee formed an outreach subcommittee to either have the performances back again this year or look for other potential performers.
The congratulatory primarily aims to recognize Latinx graduates in a welcoming space where everyone who attends can celebrate alongside them. The event provides students with support and a sense of empowerment that they can take into post-Northwestern life, Gomez said.
“With the increase in number of students enrolled at Northwestern, it’s really important to provide that space and acknowledgment for their accomplishments,” she said.
By focusing on students who identify as Hispanic/Latinx, the Latinx congratulatory caters to the issues and culture specific to the community. The event is from 6:30-8 pm in the Louis Room of Norris University Center, and is open to all Northwestern graduates.