Carlos Perrett ’18, Senior Class Speaker


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Dear graduates and families: I give everyone a warm welcome this morning.

It represents a real honor for me to give the graduation speech on behalf of my classmates and friends graduating here today. There is no doubt that our college education was a challenge that demanded dedication, talent and resilience. The effort sometimes seemed greater than what I could cope with. Often times there were personal circumstances like feeling homesick that felt overwhelming for me. Even when the results were not what I expected, my time at Pitzer College culminated into one of the most transformative experiences of my life. I guess we can say that when a person enters college, a different version of them comes out. In comes a gullible first-year student and out goes a senior equipped with the tools necessary to advocate for the most vulnerable communities; out goes a professional who is ready to face the adversities of our society. All of you sitting before me have made it and should feel extremely proud.

It was only four years ago when we arrived at this college, some of us not really knowing what academic track to pursue, especially when people would ask, “What are you going to study,” and you would say, “I am going to study social movements,” and they would respond: “Wait, that’s a major?” and you would stare at them, confused, thinking to yourself, “Yesss…” Today, here we are under this tent, proud for our parents, our families and communities. The diploma we are going to receive today is not only ours but also our parents’. It belongs to my mother, whose tears inspired me to persevere. Thanks to my mother who constantly insisted that I not forget my roots and my culture, especially because it’s precisely that which makes us feel bigger than everyone else, particularly here where we are a minority. Today we have accomplished a goal that for many had only been a dream years ago.

And of course, I do not want to forget in this moment those people who have contributed to this experience, which has been much easier because they have supported us during those difficult moments when we could not see the light at the end of the tunnel and those who gave us an extra push when we needed it most … by these people, I mean our college friends. The ones we knew before coming here, as much as the friends we made while we were here. It was our college friends who supported us when we had too many essays to write and we didn’t know where to even begin, or those we would go out with on the weekend. For the Adrianas, Melissas, Lailas, and Elijahs, friends who were difficult to find and even harder and impossible to forget.

Today I can feel triumphant. Looking at all of you, overflowing with joy for a future that is both bright and cloudy and radiant with pride and with tears—it’s OK, it also happens to me. With those tears, I realize that I have an answer: I am here and I have been successful because I’m Latino—because being Latino has taught me to be tough, humble, brave and kind. I have to thank Pitzer College, a place that has taught me what it means to be proud of my heritage in a place where they least loved me. This was the place where I came across cultures different from mine, where I learned to taste my first pupusa without a fork. This is where I met some of the most courageous and kind people in the Latino community. Class of 2018, do not forget those who preceded you. And do not forget those who will come after us. There will be many Latinos who will think it impossible to come to a place like Pitzer because they are in communities where the idea is unthinkable. Now we have the responsibility to move forward, but always looking back to see who we can help along the way. My dear classmates, I have full faith that you will leave Pitzer and transform the world. It has been my pleasure and honor to spend four years with you.

In life we do things, some we wish we had never done and some we wish we could replay a million times in our head. I wanted to do something that no one else had done before in their commencement speech, and so I chose to unapologetically give my remarks in Spanish for the Spanish-speaking parents who have given up so much so that we could be here today. We are a community of many languages, and they all deserve to be recognized. The discomfort that some of you may have felt is likely very similar to the isolation that many students of color and first generation students experienced during their time at Pitzer. This is not to downplay the incredible lessons that all of us have gained from our time here. In fact, it was at Pitzer that I discovered my love for vegan desserts and my commitment to social justice. It was at Pitzer that I traveled the world with professors and played an incredible soccer game with Dean Nigel Boyle in Ecuador. It has been here where we have cultivated life-lasting relationships with people from all backgrounds. As a first-gen student, this graduation ceremony was merely a dream for me. Today, however, I stand here immensely proud to share this moment with all of you. Thank you to our parents, our friends, our faculty and staff. Together we can be mindful of our future.

Mom, I’ve made it.
Graduates and graduates, we have achieved it.
Congratulations!

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.