More than 50 Whittier College students will don the traditional cap-and-gown and be formally recognized by President Sharon Herzberger during the 9th Annual Latino Graduate Celebration on Saturday, May 22, at 4 p.m. in the Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts, 6760 Painter Ave., Whittier, CA 90608. The keynote address will be delivered by well-respected immigration lawyer Alan Diamante.
Attorney Alan Diamante has devoted his career to the protection of immigrant rights and maintains a private practice in downtown Los Angeles. He has been a board member of Mexican America Bar Association (MABA) for several years and was the recipient of MABA’s 2003 Attorney of the Year award. Diamante has also been an active member of the Hispanic National Bar Association’s immigration committee. He has been visiting lecturer at Loyola Law School and UCLA Law School, as well a speaker for the Los Angeles County Bar Association, Orange County Hispanic Bar Association, and National Lawyers Guild, among others. In addition, Diamante has been named "Super Lawyer" by Los Angeles Magazine for several consecutive years.
The event will begin with an Aztec ceremony by the dance group Copali Copili. While on stage, students will have the opportunity to direct a few words to family and friends from a podium.
"This ceremony is important to me because I am the first in my family to go to college," said graduating senior Brownie Sibrian who will speak at the ceremony. "There are not a lot of us going to college and finishing college, in fact nearly 40% of Latinos in Los Angeles are dropping out of high school. Therefore, by recognizing Latino graduates it can serve to inspire other Latinos to go to college. I especially think about my little brother who will be at the ceremony, he has friends whose older brothers wound up being in gangs, he needs to see this positive example."
"In addition to welcoming the family members of our graduates, the Ortiz Programs and Alianza de Los Amigo, the Latino alumni association, is inviting alumni to the celebration," said Luz Maria Galbreath, director of the Ortiz Programs. "We want our new graduates to network with existing Latino alumni so that they know what opportunities are waiting for them after graduation."
Currently, 28 percent of the Whittier College undergraduate student body is Latino. Moreover, according to a recent study of national college graduation data by the American Enterprise Institute Whittier College's Latino students are outperforming their peers on a national level, achieving a 63 percent graduation rate.