The sea of messages crafted atop the mortarboards of the 1,075 graduates who took part in Fresno State’s 42nd annual Chicano/Latino Commencement Celebration on May 19 at the Save Mart Center were difficult to ignore.
From the simple salute to parents, to intricate design work, the pieces of art reflected individuality and pride.
Some were written in Spanish. Others in English.
But what is the story behind those messages that Fresno State graduates posted on the top of their caps?
Here are a few of those stories.
The message on Mayra Saldaña Esparza’s graduation cap read ‘Proud of my Roots’ in gold letters and with the word México under the word ‘roots’ and some maracas, tacos, a pirámide, the Mexican flag, a cactus and a sombrero added to the decoration.
“I was born in México and I’ve been here for seven years and it represents my culture and my background,” said the 22-year-old Saldaña, who earned her bachelor’s degree in social work. “I am really proud of my roots.”
“I knew what I wanted to put on it,” said Saldaña, the daughter of Rubén and María Saldaña.
Mario Cisneros divided his graduation cap in half and placed the United State’s flag and México’s flag next to each other.
Cisneros’ message was in Spanish “Orgulloso de mis raíces! Gracias Papás! Yo, ya chingue” with soccer balls decorating the border of the cap.
Cisneros, 24, who is the son of Gerardo and Josefina Cisneros, graduated with his bachelor’s degree in nutrition science.
“I come from a Mexican family,” said Cisneros, who was born in the United States but grew up in México. His family is from Michoacán and he is a first-generation college student.
In Yuliana Flores’ graduation cap you could read in Spanish the phrase “Sin Olvidar de Donde Vengo 18”
Flores, 25, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work.
Flores, who came to this country when she was only 12 years old, wanted to honor where she came from while acknowledging the barriers she had to overcome to graduate.
Flores, the daughter of Manuel and Rosalía Flores, said she wanted to honor “my family, when I come from, my values.”
Flores’ family is from Manuel Doblado, Guanajuato, México.
Tania Sierra Pérez’ graduation cap had the Mexican flag’s colors – green, white and red – with the eagle shield in the middle of the cap and the words “Sí se Pudo!”
Pérez, 22, is the daughter of Silvestre y Frais Pérez and is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in social work.
“I put ‘Si se pudo’ because no matter what obstacles we go across we can do it. I wanted to say ‘si se pudo’ because that’s what Cesar Chavez taught us to do,” said Pérez.
She was born in the United States but her family is from Salvatierra, Guanajuato, México, she said. Pérez, who is a first generation college student, is the second sibling in her family to go to college.
Keit Cabello Pérez, who is the daughter of Guadalupe and María Cabello, from San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, had a picture of her parents on her graduation cap.
Her message in Spanish read “Mis padres cruzaron la frontera para verme cruzar este escenario.”
“I crossed over here when I was three with my parents,” Cabello Pérez said. “They sacrified a lot to bring me over here. They left everything. They came with nothing. I am a DACA student and they helped me with everything.”
“I am proud of all their accomplishments,” said Cabello Pérez of her parents’ photo. “I know they worked hard to see me where I am today.”
Born in the town of El Resumidero, near Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico, Teresa Ramírez was only 8-month old when she came to the United States.
Ramírez, the daughter of Amador and Eva Ramírez Santillán, had a bilingual message Spanish and English on her graduation cap: “Nunca olvido de dónde vengo. 1st generation.” It was decorated with the Mexican flag and some butterflies.
“Because even though I am not in México, I never forget I am from there,” said Ramírez, who is also a first-generation college student.