University presents four graduation celebrations for ethnic students this week

The 25th Annual Latino Commencement Celebration will honor California Lt. Gov. Cruz M. Bustamante and his parents on Saturday, May 26, at 6:30 p.m. in Bulldog Stadium at California State University, Fresno.

Bustamante was a student at Fresno State when the celebration was beginning to take shape more than 25 years ago under what was to become the university’s Chicano Alumni Association.

The event, now coordinated by the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department, is one of four celebrations honoring ethnic minority students at Fresno State. Others include:

the African/American Recognition Program on Friday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m. in Bulldog Stadium;

the University Migrant Services Graduation Luncheon on May 26 at 11:30 a.m. on the grass lawn west of Satellite Student Union;

the Asian/American Graduation Recognition also on May 26 at 2 p.m. in the Satellite Student Union.

The Latino commencement recognizes and honors Latino students who are graduating and is one of the largest in the nation in attendance with approximately 16,000 family members and guests expected to attend, said Dr. Luz Gonzalez, chair of the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department.

A reception for the Latino Class of 2001 will precede the event from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the East Berm. Entertainment begins at 5:45 p.m. and the procession begins at 6:30 p.m.

Gonzalez said Bustamante is being honored in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the State of California, California State University, Fresno, and the Latino community.

“He is being honored for his inspired leadership, service and outstanding dedication to the promotion of excellence in higher education as well,” Gonzalez said.

She said that since the Latino Commencement Celebration is an event that also recognizes the efforts of parents in the accomplishments of their children, Bustamante’s parents Cruz, Sr. and Dominga Bustamante will be honored “as a tribute to all parents who guide and encourage their children to succeed.”

Bustamante attended Fresno State in the 1970s and was active in the student senate. After winning election to the state Assembly in 1998, he became the first Latino to serve as Speaker of the Assembly. Upon his election as lieutenant governor in 1998, he became the first Latino elected to statewide office in California in more than 120 years.

A native of Dinuba and a graduate of Tranquillity High School, Bustamante attended Fresno City College before transferring to Fresno State where he served as a student senator.

Among the accomplishments that have earned the lieutenant governor praise from Latinos are his participation in international trade missions to Mexico, Germany, Israel and Italy and hosting a trade summit with the governor of the Mexican State of Jalisco.

To promote tolerance and encourage dialogue on issues of diversity, Bustamante formed the Lieutenant Governor’s Commission for One California. This commission meets quarterly and is currently exploring ways in which the media and schools can foster tolerance.

Bustamante also authored the law that provided $1 billion to put updated textbooks into California classrooms, allowed the State of California to join the multi-state litigation against tobacco companies and prohibited job application fees.

As a student at Fresno State in the 1970s, Bustamante was active in causes that helped gain opportunities for Chicanos and other underrepresented students.

In addition to the student senate, he was a member of the Chicano student organization MEChA and served on the board of directors of the then-Fresno State College Association (now the California State University, Fresno Association).

Bustamante was a student here with Manuel Olgin, current president of the Chicano Alumni Association, and Tony Garduque, who started the commencement celebration for Chicano students 25 years ago. Both are Fresno State counselors today.

Founded as the Chicano Commencement Celebration, the event was Olgin’s and Garduque’s joint master’s thesis along with establishing the Chicano Alumni Association. Co-founders were then-La Raza studies professor Ernesto Martinez and student director Frances Pena-Olgin, who is now the director of Fresno State’s University Outreach Services. Martinez retires this semester from the Chicano and Latin American Studies faculty.

Olgin said the first celebration in 1976 was held at the Veteran’s Hall in Clovis and included a dance that raised $358, which helped fund the 1977 event at the Fresno Fairgrounds when 58 students and their families enjoyed a dinner, ceremony and a dance.

After the third year, the event moved to the campus in the University Amphitheater where it flourished for 15 years, with one year at Selland Arena.

“We moved the Chicano Commencement to campus after the third year to bring the families to the campus, many for the first time,” Olgin said.

With continuous growth every year and plans to move it to Bulldog Stadium, Olgin said the Chicano Alumni Association volunteers who were organizing the celebration decided in 1995 that the event needed institutional support from the university and transferred coordination to the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department. That year, the first celebration in the stadium was held.

“Many of us were students with Lt. Gov. Bustamante here at Fresno State,” Olgin said. “We established this tradition and are proud it has continued as a celebration of Chicano students’ academic successes and as a time for their families to share in that with them after so much hard work and sacrifice.”

For more information about the Latino Commencement Celebration, call 278-2848.

African/American Recognition Program

The African/American Recognition Program on May 25 at 7:30 p.m. in Bulldog Stadium will feature Fresno State criminology professor Dr. Jerome Jackson as its keynote speaker. About 80 students will participate.

Asian American Graduation Recognition Ceremony

The 2nd Annual Asian American Graduation Recognition Ceremony on May 26 will be in the Satellite Student Union from 2 to 4 p.m.

This year, 394 Asian American students will be graduating, said Phong Yan, outreach counselor.

”This ceremony will give them a chance to be represented, and a chance for their family members, educators and deans to congratulate them for all their hard work,” he said.

For more information, contact Yang at 278-6618 or Dr. Katsuyo Howard at 278-2028.

UMS Graduation Luncheon

The University Migrant Services Graduation Luncheon will be Saturday May 26 outside the Satellite Student Union from 11:00-1:30.

Students and their families and friends will be celebrating the accomplishments of migrant and seasonal farmworker students at Fresno State, said Raul Z. Moreno, coordinator of University Migrant Services.

Thirty-seven students have confirmed participation in the luncheon. Three students will receive their master’s degrees.

Special awards will be given to students who completed the UMS/Garabedian Internship. Silvestre Arias trustee from The Bertha and John Garabedian Charitable Foundation will be present to honor the students and their families.

For more information, contact Moreno at 278-7711.