The San Benito chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) honored 12 graduating high school students at a May 30 ceremony. Honorees included students from San Benito High School, San Andreas Continuation School and the Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA) program at Gavilan College.
In addition to wearing the traditional cap and gown, each honoree also wore a face mask.
The ceremony took place in the parking lot of the Hollister Community Center at 300 West Street, where attendees stood six feet apart as Congressman Jimmy Panetta, State Assemblyman Robert Rivas and LULAC President Richard Perez gave speeches. Messages focused on creating a better world by ending racism and persevering through difficult times.
“This is what you have endured: you were born into a nation of 9/11, you grew up under a recession, and now you graduate into a pandemic,” Panetta said. “But what you’ve realized is that hard times—as a nation, as individuals—hard times are what make character.”
Honorees included San Benito High School student Diana Becerra, 17, who will attend Fresno City College. She is joining the Transfer Agreement Guarantee program that will eventually enable her to attend UC-Berkeley to pursue a pre-law or philosophy degree, and later attend law school to become a civil rights lawyer.
Becerra said graduating from high school and gaining LULAC’s recognition meant a lot to her as well as her parents, who migrated from Mexico to give her and her siblings a better life.
For David Gonzalez, 18, graduating high school was the result of years of hard work and sleepless nights. He received a scholarship from an accounting firm and said it will go a long way to help him pursue a career as an accountant. He plans to attend CSU-Chico.
Gonzalez said he wants to become an accountant because he grew up helping his family sell phone accessories and speakers at various flea markets and farmers markets in Santa Cruz and Watsonville. He also plans to play lacrosse, as he was part of the San Benito High School team all four years.
Following the ceremony, speakers and LULAC members congratulated each student with an elbow bump rather than the traditional handshake or high-five.
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