“No hay que llegar primero pero hay que saber llegar,” is a quote written by Mexican singer, José Alfredo Jiménez, meaning that one does not need to make it first, but one must know how to make it. Jose Alfredo Jimenez is my parents’ favorite artist, and was also the soundtrack to my childhood. Growing up with immigrant parents in the United States came along with many obstacles, but no matter what was thrown our way, my father always reminded me of this quote. He explained that as individuals we walk our own path, and although our path can be bumpier, longer, or scarier than others, we must always keep focus on our destination. This quote describes my education experience perfect, because no matter how long it took me or how many obstacles I came across, I knew I had to finish school, and I did.
Firstly, I received my bachelors in mathematics. I am a first generation grad and try find the humor wherever it may be. I always knew I wanted to put a math pun on my cap when I graduated. So many people think math is difficult and boring. Math puns demonstrate something differently. They are quirky and fun, much like my personality. My cap is a graph of two lines that never intersect. Hence, they never touch, which is where the pun comes from. MC Hammer on a cap. What else could be better?
For my 2017 graduation cap, I decided to decorate my graduation cap with Kobe Bryant and his famous last words during his final game, "Mamba out." Kobe Bryant has been one of my idols since I was four years old. His work ethic inspired me to always push myself to be the best I can be. Even on my down days, his mentality has always helped me with carrying myself with high confidence. I will never give up because I know my potential and capability will led me to great creations. As a queer Latina, I know I have to work ten times as hard to get to where I want to be. \ My lifelong dream is to write for television. I strive to raise the representation of the Latino culture in the media. I aim to heighten a strong , sagacious, and resilient image for Latinos. And with my Mamba mentality, I will make my dreams come true.
I've dreamed of moving to London since I was 14. I had a non-linear path to getting my degree with lots of detours and almosts. When I graduated from high school, I was awarded a huge scholarship to attend Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in LA. I thought it would be smooth sailing as I was always a good student, but when you grow up, you discover things, like loss and disappointment. But back to London, when I brought up the idea of moving to the UK with my then-boyfriend during our first year at LMU, he dissuaded me from going, so I reluctantly put the dream away. In my sophomore year, I unexpectedly gave up my scholarship at LMU and dropped out of school when my grandpa died a month before my finals. At 19, I was a college dropout with no plans for the future, so I decided to jump on a plane to Philippines and take a break for a year. I spent the year interning for a women's magazine, where I learned that I actually wanted to work in publishing. I went back home to California at 21, did a couple years at community college, and then eventually got waitlisted...and then accepted at Cal State Long Beach. At CSULB, things were coming together. I loved my classes, teachers, and major. In my second year at CSULB, I applied to study abroad in London for the summer, but that fell through. I was certainly disappointed, but I didn't let it go and started to pursue other paths. That's when I found the publishing MA program at University of the Arts London. This was my last shot before I get shoved into the real world and get tied to a job. I applied to one program at one school, and finally after ten years of dreaming, I got into my dream school in my dream city. So there you have it, I was LonDone with my undergrad after lots of trial-and-errors. I graduated this year with a Cum Laude distinction, and now, I'm typing this response from my London room. To me, the cap reminds me that dreams are worth the wait.
Initially I was thinking to put a funny/cheesy pun or quote with just a stylish background, but then I remembered this will be a keepsake for years to come so it would be best for it to reflect more on my personal experience. My cap reads "First Gen" on the left corner- I am a first generation student. Then it reads "Debt free"- as a student from a low income family accumulating mass debt was one of my biggest fears but I was incredibly fortunate enough to graduate without owing anything and I know it is not something to take for granted because many students cannot say they finished debt free. Lastly on the bottom it reads "Represent"- as a first generation student who was able to graduate debt free I can look back and say I defied the odds so that when I look ahead to my future I can go forth knowing that I can defy the odds once more.
I chose this design for my cap for a number of reasons, most of the influence came from a cultural standpoint. My parents emigrated from Ethiopia for a chance at a better life for them and their future children, my parents taught me the value of education very early on and made sure that there would be no obstacles in the way of me graduating. The face on my cap is a painting of a Ethiopian angel, it's probably the most famous illustration to come out of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The Green, Yellow, and Red wings represent the colors of Ethiopian national flag, which also have gone on to influence the colors of many other African countries. The writing "Did It For The Culture" comes from a famous saying that the Hip-Hop/Rap group Migos created "Do It For The Culture". I replaced the "Do" with "Did" because I wanted people to realize that my graduation was not only was a success for me but also the Ethiopian-American community. A majority of Ethiopians come to America and live in lower Socioeconomic Status (SES) areas, a lot of our parents aren't educated, but a lot of the American born Ethiopians go on to and graduate from colleges. I dedicated my cap to my parents/culture because of the sacrifices they endured to get me this far.
My journey started long before my existence. My paternal and maternal grandparents made selfless decisions that would ripple down generationally. My father's father was a successful business man in the Philippines. He met my grandmother while he was on a business trip in Japan later having four children. They decided it was best for my grandpa's business endeavors to move back to the Philippines and without hesitation my grandmother left everything she knew to support her family and raise her children in a new country. One late evening my family faced a horrible car accident and that night my father lost his mother at a young age of 14 years old . My grandfather was able to raise four children and bring them to the United States to avail them to opportunity and a better life. My mother's father was a fire fighter in the Philippines and served in the United States Army during World War ll. He spent many solemn years in the United States endlessly trying to petition his wife and seven children who remained in the Philippines. After many trying years, he was able to reunite with his family forever changing the trajectory of their lives in their new address in San Francisco. In honor of Dolfino and Lucy Dionisio and Hermie and Benita Sanchez, I dedicate my achievement to my grandparents who started my journey long before my existence.
I had originally planned to decorate my cap using patterns or shapes. I searched for a few days looking for the perfect pattern and realized that mandala patterns were the most unique. I wanted the decoration to match the school colors, black and gold to match the rest of my graduation attire and because I am generally proud to have graduated from CSULB. Keeping only patterns seemed a bit too simplistic and didn't seem to help capture my experience at college, so I kept brainstorming ideas. After some time, I remembered the concept of sonder. The term/idea "sonder" became important to me during my last year in college. I had worked at school as a writing tutor and had met a wonderful group of people, my co-workers.There were a total of 16 of us (tutors) and our center director. My co-workers became friends quickly during the first semester working together due to their openness, honesty, hard work, sympathy/empathy, critical thinking, etc. Working as a writing tutor became enjoyable; both the students (tutees) and staff (tutors) worked hard everyday to build mutual connections and help each other learn. The center assistants and director were highly supportive of the staff (professionally, academically, and personally) and continue to be even after graduation. I had found the concept of sonder online and decided to talk about it with my co-workers one day. We had long conversations about the importance and meaning of the concept. At the end of the semester I decided that the concept had perfectly described my experience in college, especially my last year. I had learned many things that had allowed for my personal, academic, and professional growth such as critical thinking skills, responsibility, openness, sympathy/empathy, etc. I, in general, feel that my college experience had been a catalyst for my ongoing process of maturity. College was not just about studying a major, but an opportunity to explore what is important to oneself and others. During my final decorative brainstorming sessions I decided to keep the patterns, along with the word "sonder" (along with its definition), and extra information about my graduation (major, year, name, etc). I decided to include the definition of sonder because it was essentially a made up word that had been published by an author. Since I had found the word online without much information, I realized that I needed to provide its definition for context. Providing a "quote"/definition as my graduation decoration represented a change in my attitude. I had previously thought that posting and searching for quotes/lyrics on social media or any other place was silly and time consuming. It seemed unoriginal to use someone else's expressions and words to express your own. But when the concept of sonder became personal to me, by expressing the feelings and thoughts I had yet to conceptualize, I began to understand why it was important to others. I shared this change in attitude with a co-worker/friend from the center and she was thrilled with my change in attitude. She is a "quote"/"lyric" poster person and I had teased her about it throughout the year. The experience helped me strengthen our friendship by understanding the importance of "quotes" to her, of being open, of accepting and embracing a change in my stubbornness, and of the concept "sonder". I still don't consider myself a "quote" person, but I do understand why it's important to others.
My mother immigrated from Haiti when she was 15 years old, and my father is an immigrant from Ghana. From the moment they stepped foot in American soil, my parents worked their fingers to the bone to ensure to secure a future for their children. Since I was a child, I have been motivated by parents courageous lives to venture into unknown territory. I decorated my cap this way because I feel that I am my parent's ultimate fulfillment of the American dream. As I walked across the stage on graduation day, it felt as if my parents were walking alongside me.
I chose this design for my cap as I believe it represents me as a person as well as a way I try to present myself in public. The overall pattern is derived from the sails of small boats known as 'vintas', used in the Zamboanga coastal region of Southern Philippines. Such design of these sails can be traced back to the Muslim-Hindu settlers and explorers' influence on the region prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th Century. I decided to put this on my cap as a way of paying homage to my father, who was not able to be present at both my cultural graduation (PGRAD) and my walking ceremony, as well as giving a nod to my heritage from that side of me/my family. As for the little emblem located on the top corner of my cap, (sort of resembles a curvy 'not equal to' sign) it is traditional, ancient Tagalog (Northern Philippines) script for 'ka' or the letter 'K.' Having done research on the Philippine Revolution as part of my senior project, the many different armies and flags were fresh in my mind at the time. That said, one of the flags had a sun with 8 rays representing the regions that were actively trying to fight off the Spanish colonizers, with the 'ka' in the middle of it. I put that on my cap to represent myself being unique and being one who tried to defy norms and the status quo just as my ancestors used it to represent their courage and strength when fending off Spanish colonizers. This symbol, though small on my overall cap, was a nod to my mother's side of my family, whom I am close with, but still wanted to pay homage and give a nod to. **Not on my cap, but worth mentioning** When grad fair came along, I decided to have a custom sash made; I had what I felt was the cliche major/degree (BA - History) on one side and the CSULB crest-logo on the other, but with a twist - I got the tips with Mexican-serape blanket to represent to part of my ethnicity that is Chicanx. However, upon receiving the custom sash, I felt that there was more needed to be put on to represent me better. I went to my go-to guy, and had embroidered on one side the sports team that I was a part of (LBSU Surf) and the other had another Philippine Revolution flag inspired design. This time is was the letter 'K' instead of the 'ka' symbol, with a skull and crossbones next to it. Clearly, the revolutionary events of the Philippines were very fresh in my mind at the time.
I dedicated my cap to my parents. They came here from another country for a better future. They've worked hard all their lives so their kids can have a better life than what they had. They always pissed me and my siblings to go to school. I wanted to do something with my cap that would show how proud I am of them and thankful for all their support.
My college experience was no where near traditional I was basically kicked out of school my freshman year of college, I went to a total of 5 different colleges in pursue of my bachelors degree, when I transferred to CSULB I moved here completely by myself I had no friends or family in Long Beach or LA and throughout all these years I was suffered with anxiety and depression, I went through a difficult separation and lost my grandma. All these struggles ultimately made me strong and resilient providing me reasoning and motivation to obtain my degree. I once read the story of the lotus a beautiful flower that gree out of murky waters and bloomed, I thought yo myself, "that's me" Thich Nhat Hanh's quote "No Mud, No Lotus" is a brilliantly simplistic reminder. Plus I love PINK, glitter and sparkles.
I decorated my cap in this manner to pay homage to the struggle of my Ancestors. There were many people who faught and died for me to have the opportunity to even attend college. I also wanted to pay respect the the lives of black men/boys who were slaughtered at the hands of police or lost to the school-to-prison pipeline. My cap is to show that despite black people being a small percentage of the student population, we are still here and deserve to be.
I am a first-generation, Laotian American woman, who migrated to the U.S during the war. All my life my family and I lived in extreme poverty! I learned early on that education was the only way I could “be the change” for my family. The cycle of poverty stops with me!
My cap was inspired by the Rosie the Riveter. I chose to decorate my cap this way in order to empower women and people of color. Under the Trump administration, many racist and derogatory insults have been said towards women and people of color. It is important to show unity during these hard times and show that women and people of color are capable of reaching their goals and are not criminals.
The doll at the center of my cap is a representation of my Latino heritage. It represents Guatemala, and my family's origin. The doll that was given to me when I was a little girl and I thought it was the most beautiful doll I had ever seen because it resembled me. The flowers surrounding my doll were I inspired by the beautiful embroidery I saw my mom make as a child. And lastly the quote "me puse las pilas" is a phrase that in English literally translates to "I put the battery's on myself" but in Spanish it means so much more. My parents always said "ponte las pilas" when I was slacking or when I wasn't applying my full potential, it's a phrase used in many Latino households to motivate you. My quote is a response to that phrase saying that I'm getting my life together, one degree at a time.
While I was thinking about what to decorate my cap with I thought that there was no better statement to describe how I felt about people at the time. I am definitely an anti-social sociologist. I chose to embroider the cap with flowers because it symbolizes my admiration for nature. I’d much rather spent time alone in nature instead of with people.
While I was in the middle of completing my Double Major in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, I started watching a cartoon show by the name of Steven Universe. At first I thought it was cute and light-hearted, the colors of the show struck me as very striking and luminous, I liked it. When it started to introduce very in-depth concepts is when it began to throw me off, and I fell in love with it. The main character is estranged from his mother, but he understands that she always had good intentions for him and the rest of the world; she was a protector. There's a conflict inside him as he finds out more about himself by finding out more about his mother and her past. He's struggling to find his purpose and struggling with the idea of who is mother was, who she really was vs. the idea he had built up of her in his mind. My mother and I have not had the best relationship for many years, we're mostly estranged due to certain decisions she and I have both made throughout the duration of our lives. I've struggled to understand why my mother made certain choices, and in understanding her circumstances I've begun to understand her more as a person. I've been working my way up to forgiving her for her past mistakes, and understanding why she decided to have me when she wasn't really ready for a child at the time. The image on my Graduation Cap is a shield. In the show, the characters have objects made of a light that exists inside of him. That shield belongs to the main character, Steven, but it also belonged to his Mother, Rose. He inherited it from her, and he uses it to protect the people he loves and he uses it to fight for what's right. The flowers were grown by his mother, a piece of her that she left behind and one of the many that the main character has found on his path to understanding his mother. The quote on my Cap is part of the song lyrics that occasionally play during the end credits of the show. The full quote is, "If I could begin to be half of what you think of me, I could do just about anything, I could even learn how to love like you." It's about trying to live up to the expectations of someone who believes in you, and loves you. I believed in my mother when I was younger, and I loved her very much. I still love her, but part of me can't depend on her anymore. I think she would feel like this quote, that she really tried to grow and love as much as I wanted her to. She came up short, she couldn't be what I thought she was supposed to be, but she did her best, she wanted to love me the way I needed to be loved. I've done my best to grow and love the people around me, my experiences, and myself. Especially the experiences that were were painful or straining or disappointing. This quote reflects a lot of things. If I could graduate with a double major in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, if I could learn all those concepts, then I could learn how to love all the things that helped me grow to get there. Even if I couldn't love them before. It means that I haven't completed my journey yet.
My girlfriend decided to procrastinate and work on my mortarboard the night before graduation. It seemed it was great and fit my time while at CSULB. most of the time I would wait until last minute to study or start on my papers. Nonetheless, I graduated and continue to procrastinate my way through life. My cap has SpongeBob with a twist. Instead of it saying imagination like in one of the best episodes it says procrastination. The letters are my initials followed by the year I graduated. Once a niner always a niner. GO BEACH!!!!!!!!!
I chose to decorate the cap this way because it represents who I am and where I have come from. The red, white, and green colors represent the Mexican flag. I am Mexican; my parents were born in Mexico and came here to the US. This makes me a first generation Mexican- American. This hat represents how proud I am to be Mexican, and it is also a representation of my parents. The saying reads "Mexicana y Chingona", "Mexicana" is Mexican and "Chingona" can be loosly translated to badass. The graduation cap represents graduation with the stars representing the path I took to reach it. The roses represent my culture. Roses and flowers are used in many festivities for our culture. For example, flower crowns are used in folkorico dancing and decorated onto sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos. But most importantly the roses on my cap represent La Virgin de Guadalupe. The Virgen is an important figure for Catholic Americans. The roses to me represent the faith that I have in God and how it has brought me to where I am today. All in all, this cap is decorated to represent who I am, what my beliefs are, and where I come from.
I am a queer woman of color and in May 2017, I graduated with a MPH from CSULB. I was so excited to have accomplished this for myself and wanted to encourage other people with similar intersecting identities to feel like they could do this for themselves, too. In trying to decide on how I wanted to decorate my mortarboard, I knew that the most important thing for me was to have my intersecting identities visible. I looked for quotes for months but could not find anything that fit just right. No picture or slogan seemed to fit right either. In the end, I decided to decorate my mortarboard with a single rainbow ribbon. Additionally, I reused the tassel I was given for rainbow graduation when I was an undergrad. It would be easy to tell that I am a woman and that I am Latina from walking across the stage in my graduation gown, however, walking across the stage in my gown and decorated cap offered a more complete glimpse into who I am.
One of the main reasons why I chose to decorate my cap this way is because I have a big head and the regular cap would not fit. Also I wear a Long Beach baseball cap 99% of my everyday life so I had to incorporate my everyday look into the design. The idea for the art displayed on top came from my family as a collective. Out of 30 grand kids I am only the 3rd to graduate and they were the ones pushing me to stay in school and finish so I felt this moment is special for them as well and they should be involved in the design. I honestly did not care what the design was as long as it had something to do with my major (film) and personality. My mother, father two brothers and two sisters all threw in their ideas and came up with Charlie Chaplin and a quote saying "the best way to bet something done is to begin". This Quote matches my personality because I am a bit of a procrastinator, with school, chores Im surprised I'm even getting this in on time. Another thing most cannot tell about the caps design is that it is made out of leather and is "tooled" some would say carved or even sculpted giving the artwork a 3D look, something that needs to be seen in person. The leather tooling and assembling of the hat was done by me and my father and as soon as discussion of decorating a cap came about I knew I had to have my fathers leather tooled art be apart of it. I wanted a leather tooled cap for multiple reasons 1) Nobody else was going to have or has ever had a leather tooled cap and 2) when people asked, I was proud to say my daddy made it and show everybody that although I'm the one walking and graduating my creativity and artistic skills started before me. Also I was unable to upload multiple pictures it only allowed for one but i have others
Malala Yousafzai’s courage to navigate life regardless of its tests and perils very much inspired me to channel her grace and strength for graduation. As a Sociology major, sometimes I get too wrapped up in the theoretical aspect of this degree, but the applied aspect is equally important. She fights for young women and girls to receive an education, and as someone who has been profoundly impacted by receiving an education I felt her quote very much represented what it means to be a Sociologist. This photo taken by CSULB went viral on Undocumedia, an Instagram account that is inclusive to all, and I was so deeply touched by all of the heart felt responses and support. I chose this quote because I believe that as a Sociology major it is our duty to address and change social injustices for all people, of all races, ethnicities, genders, religions, nationalities, sexualities, classes, abilities, and ages. It is also our duty to check unbalanced powers, and ensure there is equity and equality for folks who have been consistently left out of the conversation and have been subordinated by injustice. In this era of bold and overt bigotry, we must use our methods and theories as tools to take to the world to stand up for injustices of local, national, and global scales. In the words of the wise Ms. Yousafzai, we cannot succeed when half of us are held back. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope that everyday we can be like Malala.
I wrote that to present the importance and role of my parents and my Guru(teacher) in my education. The dream wouldn’t have cone yrue without their blessings and support. I owe them and respect them for whatever I am, all because of them. :)
It was a tough decision. I knew I wanted to say something poignant - and I was carrying the flag for the Marketing Department - so I felt compelled to be PC and inspirational. The perfect message came to us as my three daughters and I were shopping at Michael's. We found flowers, beads, letters, etc. - and the design started coming together. We were talking about how exciting it was to be graduating, and I said, "ladies, the best is yet to come! You will graduate next year, and you two will follow soon after." Almost at the same time we all said, "The best is yet to come! That's it!"