UT’s First Latina & Disabled Student Body President Delivers Emotional Commencement Speech

Lead Photo: Creative Commons "Graduation Caps” by John Walker is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Creative Commons "Graduation Caps” by John Walker is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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With commencement season kicking off, we’re bound to see tear-jerking speeches about struggle and perseverance. And Alejandrina Guzmán‘s address was no different. Back in March 2017, Guzmán became the University of Texas at Austin’s first Latina and first disabled student body president. Before Alejandrina, who wore a Latinx grad sash, spoke to the crowd, they gave her a standing ovation. Clearly overwhelmed at the reception, it took her a few minutes to gather her thoughts. But when she did, she talked about what it meant to be a Latina standing in front of her classmates and how she couldn’t have made it without the help of her friends and family.

“I could have never imagined myself here,” she said. “Right here in this spot proudly wearing my Latinx Grad stole – a stole symbolizing my identity as a Latina woman. When I think back to the past 10 years, it dawns on me that none of the speakers were wearing a Latinx Grad stole or even a Black grad stole. I start to ask myself, ‘Why? Why does it take so long for this to happen? Why didn’t I ever see myself speaking, let alone attending the University of Texas at Austin?’ For many us, attending college is a faraway dream – many times even impossible. As a proud daughter of immigrants and a first-generation college student, I know that I am beyond lucky to have been a student on the Forty Acres. But these past five years at UT didn’t happen all on my own.”

Alejandrina then went on to speak about her parents’ sacrifices. Her dad worked multiple jobs to support his family. Her mother, who when told that her daughter wouldn’t be able to walk, practiced with young Alejandrina every day. “Although I use my wheelchair across this 400-acre campus, I’m able to walk because of my mom.”

She also explains how her friends were there for her when her wheelchair broke. The entire speech is incredibly touching. Check it out below.