Leslie Moreno

Bienvenidos familiares, compañeras, y amigos,


First, I would like to recognize that we are on sacred Tongva land, and on this land today, we are celebrating a moment in our lives that we have long anticipated with excitement and fear. For many of us, this day has been one that was awaited alongside family and friends. While for some, it is a new experience having challenged many expectations as first generation students that is shared with our families, friends, and communities. Although we have shared Scripps for the last four years, we have each shaped our own experience within these ivory walls that hold many memories of laughter, tears, accomplishments, failures, and risks.

As first years, we were enveloped in the beauty of Scripps with its citrus-filled walkways and its fruit-filled grounds. We walked through the doors of Denison for the first time and nervously wrote our names in a book that solidified our presence and joined the classes before us. And how can we forget the delicious chocolate bread pudding at orientation that really sealed the deal, but most importantly filled us with warmth and comfort.

While we enjoyed the many beauties and delicacies Scripps had to offer, we altogether were forming a new community for ourselves as the class of 2018. A community that has had its successes and faults, a community that many of us have continuously fought to improve not just for us but for the ones that came after us and the future ones to come. Through it all we have asked ourselves, what is important to our Scripps community? How do we create the community we want? What can we do to make our students more involved in the transformative decisions of our campus? We looked to fixing the materialistic aspects of Scripps, and voicing the concerns that we believed addressed the need of all our students, but we did not recognize that within those decisions the voices of the unheard and unseen communities were left out.

Inside the walls of Scripps, there are many stories that are left unnoticed, many conversations left unheard and tucked away only for those individuals who shared it. I am here today to make those communities present because they are the ones that many students have turned to when the Scripps community failed to hear and acknowledge them, and when our peers have caused us discomfort in the spaces that we have been told are safe and inclusive.

After four years of trials and tribulations, we are taking this moment to be heard as a part of this celebration. For some of us, like me, sitting in these chairs feels like a dream that we thought would not become a reality. The frustrations and challenges of navigating academics, mental health, and our personal lives, alongside multiple jobs, have been ones that we have shared with those we trust in a dorm room behind closed doors, in a study space that we purposely take up to make our presence known, or in SCORE, one of the few spaces that was founded to center the experiences and voices that are erased on campus. On November 8th, 2016, when the country showed itself for who it was, while students were in the living rooms disappointed at the results, others  felt their world stop because now the safety of their families, friends, and communities were added onto the never-ending worries they carry as students; yet they were the ones in class the next day doing what their families always told them to do, “tienes que seguir estudiando, tienes que seguir adelante”. As students organized for equity and justice on campus, their continuous labor is now being recognized for the countless hours of planning, sacrifice, and persistence in calling attention to the lack of institutional support, calling attention to the complacency of their classmates. This is to acknowledge the moments we held ourselves back from expressing what we truly felt in class, but most importantly, on campus because of the inherent expectations placed upon us as marginalized communities. We have faced many obstacles that have allowed us to look past the veil of aesthetics and notority and begin a new life viewing our environment more critically. While for some, this journey began in our first session of CORE. For others, including myself, it started as soon as we stepped foot on campus.

As we acknowledge the challenges and difficulties we’ve faced, we cannot leave without acknowledging the support and care we have given each other. Some of us met our greatest support systems before we even started at Scripps. DIVE, a program designed for admitted underrepresented students of color and first-generation students, gave me and many others friendships and relationships that have withstood the test of time since that day in April of 2014. To the students who came before us, offered their knowledge and shared their experiences, we would have not been able to navigate the complexities of the Scripps College experience without you. The clubs and organizations who created spaces for the underrepresented students, we want to recognize you, First-Generation @ Scripps, DIDA, Cafe Con Leche, Watu Weusi, AASP, AASU, and FAMILY, for your commitment and work that you have put in to make sure that the students you represent are acknowledged, visible and heard. Our friends who have made themselves available when we needed it the most and allowed us to cry, laugh, and share space with them, even if it meant sitting in silence. We want to thank the faculty and staff who have shared their experiences, knowledge, resources, and support when we, as students, were unsure of our place in academia. We also can’t overlook the work, effort and genuine care of housekeeping, maintenance, groundskeepers, and the dining hall staff who are the foundation of Scripps and who have taken on the role as caretakers in a new place that we had to call home. Quiero extender las gracias a ustedes los trabajadores que ayudan mantener a la escuela y que nos han apoyado durante este tiempo. Ustedes han sido una presencia familiar en este lugar desconocido. We have had a myriad of support systems throughout our time at Scripps, however, we cannot forget to thank the ones who are sitting before us, our families, friends and mentors who have supported us from the beginning. I would especially like to recognize those families who are experiencing this event for the first time, including my family, and their persistence to make this opportunity happen. Quiero reconocer el esfuerzo de ustedes, los padres, que han sacrificado y trabajado mucho para que nosotras pudiéramos llegar a este momento en nuestras vidas.

Although we cannot deny that this journey has been difficult, we can say that it has been a transformative and challenging experience. As we leave here to begin a new chapter in our lives, I want to remind each one of us that we do not have to be alone through it all. We will be able to carry the support we have here with us alongside another unknown journey, and we will have the confidence to create and form that support again outside of Scripps. Each one of us has the power to make an impact the same way our communities have had on us, and it is our decision to implement it in our future lives, careers, friendships and commitments. Before you leave here, don’t forget to reflect on what you have accomplished and what you have learned from your failures, and don’t forget to acknowledge those who have stood by you on this journey. Despite all obstacles and moments of uncertainty, I want to remind you, quiero recordarles, you can do it! Si se puede!