While Dr. Joseph I. Castro spoke about the impact that Fresno State graduates can have on the region, dean medalists Kaylee Gutiérrez (undergraduate) and Camerina Angélica Morales (graduate) went a bit more personal with their speeches Friday night at the Kremen School of Education and Human Development convocation and hooding ceremony before a near-capacity crowd at the Save Mart Center.
Castro, who said the university is “a place where dreams come true,” implored the students to get involved in the San Joaquín Valley in a positive way.
“Become a model and form respectful dialogue in your community,” said Castro, who also encouraged the students to send their children and grandchildren to the university.
Castro stressed the importance of “serving others in your community” for the greater good.
The president ended by telling the future teachers “to be bold, be kind, be proud and be Bulldogs for life.”
Gutiérrez, who moved to the U.S. from México when she was young, thanked her parents, both teachers, for sacrificing to provide their children more educational opportunities.
Gutiérrez, who earned her bachelor’s degree and multiple subject credential in four years, recalls visiting her father in the classroom and writing on the board. At home, she would play the role of teacher in games with her older sister and cousin.
“Don’t make me use my teacher’s voice,” Gutiérrez recalled telling her sister and cousin when they didn’t pay attention.
Gutiérrez stressed the importance of a teacher’s voice in the education of students.
“A teacher’s voice has the power to not only deliver information but the use of inspiration,” she said. “A teacher’s voice is essential in unlocking a student’s potential.”
Morales, who earned her bachlelor’s in sociology at UC Merced, also thanked her parents ... in Spanish.
She described herself as a “Chicanx, queer woman” who was surprised she was selected for the dean’s medal because it wasn’t an image for a “brown girl.”
“I stand tall here with all my fellow peers, for those who were told they wouldn’t make it into higher education; for those who didn’t have support; for those who struggled financially and worked 1, 2, 3 or more jobs to fulfill their financial obligations; for those with family and children; and, for those who fell through the cracks and still made it here,” she said.
Morales said they were proof that “¡Sí se puede!” (Yes, It Can Be Done).