Thirty-six Latino-descendant students were recognized. Together with family, friends, and Northern Illinois University advisers and faculty, about 100 people celebrated the students’ achieving the goal of a college degree.
Introducing the event were Katrina Caldwell, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, and Luis Santos-Rivas, director of the Latino Resource Center.
The keynote speaker was Ezequiel Flores, chief executive officer of Flying Retail LLC, who was recently named by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of the “40 Under 40” class of “trailblazers and wavemakers.”
Three NIU faculty were recognized at the event for their support of the Latino culture and community: Jennifer Rosato Perea, dean of the College of Law; Kristine Huffine, acting director of Latino and Latin American Studies; and James Cohen, assistant professor of Literacy and Elementary Education.
Elaine Rodriguez, graduating senior with a degree in Health and Human Sciences PT, was recognized with the Latino Student Leadership award for exhibiting the greatest leadership qualities among the group.
Each graduating student was given time to express their thanks and appreciation for loved ones who supported them throughout their college journey, making for a meaningful and emotion-filled event; and each received a special commemorative cord, certificate and a T-shirt.
The graduation committee that planned the event consisted of NIU students Corey Lamb, Luis Flores, Christopher Pulido, Leslie Castillo, Wendy Gonzalez, Jesenia Zoquiapa, Alexis Corona, and Sergio Gutierrez.
Latino graduates include: Adam Lopez, Alexis Diaz, Ana Hernandez, Andrea Calderon, Anel Carrera, Berlia Llamas, Christian Villalobos, Crystal Aveja, Damaris Hernandez, Diana Lopez, Elaine Rodriguez, Eric Cuevas, Gabriel Nava, Guadalupe Lopez, Guadalupe Trejo, Humberto Beltran, Ivonne Uquillas, Jakeline Jungbluth, Jamar Anthony Almaraz, Jeanette Bonilla, Jordan Rivera, Jorge Hernandez, Juan D. Rodriguez, Mary Carmen Ruiz, Monica Santucci, Osvaldo Flores Gonzales, Prisma Arevalo, Raquel Chavez, Ricco Ramos, Rodrigo Dominguez, Sandra Robles, Sandy Gonzalez, Sara Briseño, Shak Pedroza Abdullah, Swayzen Sanchez, and Vanessa Velazquez.
The event was sponsored by Verizon; Caldwell; Sean Frazier, associate vice president of Intercollegiate Athletics; and the Latino Resource Center.
The ceremony ended with a performance by the Tumbao Group.