Immigration is a great thing for a country, especially for one built entirely on the backs of immigrants. And when entire families migrate, or when an immigrant makes a family in a new land, they bring with them a host of traditions and customs that ultimately enrich the culture of the nation they arrive to. These families rightly appreciate their heritage, and the way their descendants often commemorate the courage and hard work of their immigrant parents and grandparents is nothing short of inspiring. And there's nothing quite like celebrating your mother and father when you graduate, showing eternal gratitude for their sacrifices as the height of their journey comes to fruition. If you're an immigrant who built a life for your children in a new country, watching them graduate is one of the most rewarding experiences there are.
But for Latinx communities, graduating is truly a challenge. Prejudice, racism, and dire economic situations mean many young Latinxs struggle to find the personal and financial stability to even get into college in the first place, with fewer than 23% of Latino-Americans (aged 25 to 64) holding a college degree, according to The Hechinger Report.
So it's only fair that graduating Latinxs of all backgrounds get to celebrate their heritage and family in the most imaginative fashion. And designing your graduation cap to commemorate your background is a pretty good way to go about it—which is what many in the community have done under the #latinxgradcaps hashtag. Here are 16 photos of graduation caps that celebrate the greatness of immigration and immigrant parents.
From the fields to college: a life of study and work
Showcasing the encouraging contrast of hard work on the fields and academic life, this picture reads a truly inspiring caption:
"The very hands that harvest this land are the very hands that harvested me. Thank you mom & dad, for always teaching me how to put bread on the table, what hard work truly means, and, above all, showing me that being from the fields is an honor. Your sacrifices have not been in vain… your dreams are only beginning!"
Leading into the future
Having a passion to be a teacher and a role model for minorities is one of the noblest endeavors I can think of. As this post's caption says:
"I spoke about wanting to be a role model to kids who were like me. Migrant, field working, factory working, barely speak English parents. That passion is what got me hired and that passion gives me the drive to the best I can be not only for my loved ones but for all those kids who need to see que si se puede...no matter how long it takes you."
Showing the world that everything's possible
It's especially exciting to graduate after a lifetime struggling against a congenital disease.
"My name is Katherine, I am half Nicaraguan and Guatemalan, since I was little I was diagnosed with Turner syndrome. I was not expecting to achieve much in my life. I am first generation graduate in my family. It was a long ride with me doubting myself every step of the way but I made it on top!"
I am the wild dreams
The Latinx spirit soars high here, showing the characteristic Latinx ability for creating beautiful phrases in lovely places. The cap reads "Yo soy los sueños salvajes de mis ancestros," which means:
"I am the wild dreams of my ancestors"
Beyond any doubt
To know where you come from and who helped you get to where you are is a lost sensitivity for many Americans, whose privilege they take for granted. But not this Latina. Her caption reads:
"The diploma might have my name on it, but it really took a village to help me finish Grad School. My community invested in me, and I can’t wait to give back because I know there is still so much more to come."
Xicana & Xingona
Her grad cap reads "Xicana & Xingona," or "Chicana and Chingona." Helpfully, she posted the meaning:
"CHiˈkänä/; (in North America) a woman or girl of Mexican origin or descent. noun. "Chingona"; Spanish slang term meaning “bad ass woman.” A chingona is any woman who chooses to live life on her own terms. PERIOD."
To my parents
This cap's dedication says it all. In Spanish, it reads "Para mis padres que llegaron sin nada pero me lo dieron todo," which translates to:
"To my parents, who came here with nothing, but gave me everything."
For my people
Pride for your community can take on different meanings depending on social context. In the case of minorities, it's hard not to encourage this level of commitment to your own, since the powers-that-be are often against you at every corner. That's what Trump's rhetoric does, and that's what these communities are challenging. In Spanish, "lo logré" means "I made it" or "I achieved it," so altogether the cap reads:
"I made it for my people"
When you see me fly
One of the most heartwarming photos depicting the happiness of an entire community. This message beautifully expresses what immigrant parents mean for first-generation Americans:
"When you see me fly, remember you’re the ones who gave me my wings"
With a heart-full of Latin America
What better way to symbolize keeping your motherland in your heart? No matter where you go, remember where you came from—and honor those origins with hard work. That's part of the Latinx spirit.
They crossed the border, so I crossed the stage
No one can say that Latinxs aren't grateful—or that they don't know how to show it. This post's caption reads:
"Shout out to all those parents that came to this country in search of a better life for their families, because without them none of this would have been possible. And thank you to my parents, who came here with literally nothing—just to give my sisters and I everything"
First-generation Americans face some of the worst kind of racism and xenophobia. They often find themselves between two cultures like no one else does, without fully stable roots on either. Without full support from society in general, and family in particular, it can be really difficult to find your place.
But there's nothing to be ashamed of, and being proud of who you are is the first step to get to where you want. This cap reads:
"1st generation. Thanks for everything, mom and dad"
The Mariachi Spirit
"It's fun to do the impossible," also known as The Mariachi Motto. Not really; but it should be. Anyway, this is a great rendition of heritage and personal development; of looking back and looking forward at the same time, where past and future meet in perfect harmony.
A fusion of cultures
So, immigrant nations like America are a cultural melting pot, and this is just about the best representation of that fact. A quote by John Lennon (an immigrant himself), the Mexican flag opposite the American one, and a world-map collage. Truly something.
The voices of my ancestors
After a few failed attempts, she is finally graduating. In her mind, that isn't only a personal achievement, but a way to honor those who came before and thanks to whom she's there. "From now on," she says, "the voices of my family and ancestors will prevail." She's now a Latina working in STEM—an achievement few people can brag about!
They migrated, so I graduated
To close, the sentiment that unites them all: the parents and grandparents migrated so that their children and grandchildren could lead a better life. Latinxs in this situation know that the least they can do is thank them. And that they have, like few other ever could.
Take a look at these other articles:
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