Bakersfield College’s Latinos Unidos Por Educacion Student Organization, in collaboration with Kern Youth Abolitionist, UNIR from CSUB and Calpulli Teopan Tecuanticlan, is hosting it’s “2020 Community Graduation Parade” to honor and celebrate all 2020 graduates.
Tania Bernal, one of the event organizers, said her and other community members organized the parade to honor and celebrate the many first generation and undocumented high school, college, and university graduates.
“We want to celebrate them and let them know they are not forgotten, and we are happy for their accomplishments,” said Bernal. “We will celebrate them with a car parade practicing COVID-19 protocols that Governor Newsom and the federal government has implemented by practicing in social distancing and wearing face masks.”
Everyone is invited to an inclusive space. Participants are encouraged to bring their own posters, cap and gown. The organizers are asking participants to wear face covering and to social distance to keep everyone safe during the pandemic.
The Parade will take place at 3600 Wilson Avenue Bakersfield, CA 93309. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a native prayer through dance and music by calpulli teopan tecuanticlan, and the parade will begin at 6 p.m.
Jael Rivera, the leader of The Calpulli (nahuatl for family/group) Teopantecuanitlan (Family of the Jaguar Temple) is attending the parade to help give the graduates and their families a ceremony that they deserve.
“We will be giving our native prayers through dance and music since many didn’t get the chance to have a graduation ceremony due to COVID-19,” said Rivera. “The Calpulli believes that all the hard work that the graduates and their families have put into to get to this moment, deserves to be recognized and celebrated.”
Erick Plata, one of the many Dreamers graduating Bakersfield College, said he is looking forward to the parade because it allows people to celebrate and gather in a safe manner.
“I feel every single graduate deserves recognition for its accomplishments, whether it is Pre-K, middle school, high school, or university level deserves recognition for their accomplishments,” said Plata. “We are the ones obtaining the tools necessary to create positive change. I am very appreciative my community is celebrating my accomplishments.”
Valeria is a dreamer and a graduate from Cal State Bakersfield. She is graduating with her Bachelors Degree.
“Not only did I have to overcome many uncertainties in my process of navigating higher education, but I also beat the odds of being a college drop out,” Valeria said.
Valeria worked a full-time job throughout college to pay for tuition and other school expenses. And this parade symbolizes somethings special for Valeria.
“I mostly wanted to attend the parade because I want to show youth who are going through a similar path that attaining a college degree is possible, even if you are undocumented,” Valeria said. “I also wanted to prove to my high school counselor who shot my dreams down of attending CSUB that I did not take her advice and decided to trust myself and pursue my goals to continue my education.”
She continued: “No one will take this victory from me, not even a pandemic.”
Those interested in participating in the event can sign up here. The event it taking place on Friday, June 26.
Kern Sol News is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.