Saturday, November 29, 2008

¡adelante!

On Thursday evening I attended the graduation ceremony at the Catholic University in La Paz. As a branch of La Católica, our UAC-CP students are invited to participate in the University's official pomp and circumstance.

Richard Agramont's mother (left) and aunt made the six hour journey from their home in Irupana (South Yungas) to see Richard receive his diploma.  An agronomist, Richard is employed at CARITAS in Coroico where he travels to rural areas to work with coffee farmers.

About 40 UAC-CP students, donning caps and gowns, graduated with degrees in nursing, agronomy, and veterinary science.  Many of them had participated in the graduation ceremony held this past August in Carmen Pampa, but for others it was the first they had heard their name called to stand up before a crowd of more than 1,000 people and receive their college diploma.

It was a pretty proud and emotional moment to watch our students walk across the stage. Graduating from college is a major feat for most anyone, but particularly so for our students who beat incredible odds to make it to that moment.  

Coroico natives Micaela Soliz and her younger sister pose after the graduation ceremony at the Catholic U.  Mica now works for the Carmen Pampa Health Post.

As I rushed around taking pictures and congratulating graduates and their families following the ceremony, one of our recent grads said to me, "Can you imagine where we would be today if the UAC-CP didn't exist?  If Sr. Damon never dreamed to start a college?"  While I've obviously considered the question before, I was caught off guard by it at that exact moment; I didn't know how to respond.  

I don't know where our "kids" would be if they didn't have the opportunity to obtain a college degree.  It's a little disheartening to think about because I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have been standing in front of me, diploma in hand, smile flashing across the face, feeling on top of the world.

Nursing graduate Lucy Cabrera with her parents at a post-graduation meal. An El Alto native, Lucy currently works at a pharmacy in La Paz.  Once she has her paperwork in order, she would like to look for work in the Yungas.

At a small family celebration for one of the graduates later that evening, UAC-CP nursing graduate Lucy Cabrera's relatives sat in a circle in their small living room area and talked about how proud they are that she's the first in the family to graduate from college.  As her dad sat quietly and admired her diploma, Lucy's uncle told her to never give up, to keep on going forward.  "Sigue adelante!" he told her.  

While everyone enthusiastically nodded their heads in agreement, I leaned over and whispered in her ear, "And when you go forward, wherever you go, don't forget to bring the mission of the UAC with you."

1 comment:

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