UC Merced students are getting ready for the finale of the 2012 spring semester. As we are getting closer to the end of the school year, nostalgia is prevalent among Bobcats, especially senior students who are graduating. Like every year, UC Merced says goodbye to the annual graduating class.
As Commencement was approaching, seniors expressed worry about not having a guest speaker lined up for commencement. However, earlier this month, school administrators released the news that the speaker will be former Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante.
Having a Hispanic heritage, Bustamante will be speaking to a campus of minorities, ours being the most diverse of the UC schools. UCM is made up of around 40% Hispanic, from countries like Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and more.
Bustamante’s ethnicity is not importantly solely to the Hispanic population, but rather to the cluster of minorities (such as African American and Middle Eastern) who make up the UCM student population. In addition, Central Valley locals can identify with Bustamante, who has born in the town of Dinuba, later moved to San Joaquin, graduated from Tranquillity High School, and was attended college in Fresno.
Lt. Gov. Bustamante was one of the initial advocates for and supporters of the construction of our campus. As a public official, he as worked closely with other elected representatives in the Central Valley to ensure that needed funds were committed to UCM’s early planning, construction, and development.
Lt. Gov. Bustamante comes from an immigrant family from Zacatecas, Mexico. As in many Hispanic homes, Spanish was the first language for him and his five brothers and sisters. Both of his parents were dedicated to being educated citizens who would achieve the American Dream, and in order to support their family financially, they worked multiple jobs.
Earlier in his youth, he worked in the fields to help support his family, and later attended Fresno State University. In an attempt to help his son succeed professionally, Bustamante’s father looked for possible internships, and succeeded in getting his son to work for a senator in Washington D.C. After all his experiences on the East Coast, Lt. Gov. Bustamante returned to the Central Valley area to help local communities.
Among his colleagues and the general public, he is know as a low-profile politician who has worked hard, and is committed to directly addressing issues that oppress minorities. He has helped many believe that Latinos could be influential leaders in this country.
In a UCM press release, school administrators bespoke their enthusiasm for Bustamante’s selection. In addition, a group of students gathered at the Lantern Café, and talked about how they identified with the speaker based on his prior hardships, and the ways in which he overcame challenges in his life. As a product of the Central Valley’s higher education system, Bustamante will be speaking to the graduating class that will have launched into the world from the same roots from which he succeeded.