Trinity University Latino Association (TULA) is organizing the first De Colores Ceremony for May 2018 graduation. Similar to the Kente Ceremony for African students, De Colores is a ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the Latinx Trinity community. It is scheduled to take place the day before Trinity’s Spring Commencement, on May 10 at 4 p.m. in the Chapman Great Hall. It will help non-English speaking family members to understand Commencement and will allow as many guests as the graduating student wants to invite.
Tayde Contreras, junior chemistry major and vice president of TULA, started to organize the event after Samsara Dávalos, junior sociology major, and Janett Muñoz, senior biochemistry and molecular biology major, expressed their concern about the lack of cultural considerations for Latinx students who graduate college.
According to the 2015 U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics are the minority group with the least percentage of college graduates. Only 15.5 percent of Hispanics in the United States obtain a bachelor’s degree, which is why TULA wants to celebrate Latinx Trinity students who graduate.
“The fact that we, [Latino students], graduated high school, we’re in college and we are also graduating is really important. We feel that our parents should understand what is going on during the ceremony. That is why the De Colores ceremony is going to be bilingual. We want to make it inclusive for everyone,” Contreras said.
Earlier in the semester, Contreras contacted TULA advisors to come up with a proposal for the De Colores Ceremony.
“Once [the proposal] was ready to go we sent it to Dr. Tynes, then she talked to President Anderson, and he consulted with the Commencement Committee and everybody else it should’ve gone through. They all really loved it … so it’s approved,” Contreras said.
The organizers have received a lot of support from the Trinity community about the event. Many faculty members have already agreed to help and attend. It is an inclusive ceremony that invites students who identify as Latinx or Latinx allies to participate. Even the Latinx students who are graduating in December 2017 are welcome to come to the ceremony in May.
“We want to open it up to where [the graduating students] can invite as many people as they want, just because in the Trinity graduation [ceremony] they give you a limited amount of tickets, and especially Latino families tend to be really big … It might be pretty big,” Contreras said.
Contreras also described the logistics of the event.
“We’ll have a ceremony at first, and the ceremony will have a faculty speaker … then we’ll have a student speaker. After that the actual celebration starts … each person will have a little biography we can read out loud just to know about who they are, what they accomplished during their Trinity years and stuff like that,” Contreras said.
Like the Kente Ceremony, the students will receive stoles they can wear the next day during graduation. The stoles will have serape designs, which are representative of Latin American tradition.
“Serape material is very colorful, which is representative of how diverse Latinos … it goes back to the name of the ceremony, De Colores,” Contreras said. “It’s going to be either a family member, a friend or a professor or a mentor who was there for them and inspired them, the person who awards [the graduating student] the stole.”
Around March of next semester, Contreras will form committees to start planning the event. She welcomes any student who is interested in helping, even if they are not TULA members. For more information contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.