Where next? Wherever the RV takes us
Morgan Barraza can confidently claim to be unique in how she’ll celebrate her degree. Barraza, who received a master’s in education learning and teaching, will take a recreational vehicle first to her wedding and then back home to the Salt River Pima Reservation in Arizona, stopping to see friends along the way.
Barraza, a Native American and member of the Salt River Pima, said that commencement ceremonies were extra special because several family members, including her grandmother, who was in the hospital for when she received her undergraduate degree from Columbia, were able to attend.
“For her to be able to come here and see me, it’s a huge privilege, not only to our families but also to our particular communities,” Barraza said. “I want to return to my community and continue teaching.”
— Alvin Powell
Singing in the old and new
Music has been an integral part of Commencement for generations, as it was today at Tercentenary Theatre. In keeping with tradition, the Commencement Choir performed a version of Psalm 78 set to music by the 18th-century composer William Tans’ur. The piece has been part of Commencement since its inception. But the choir also made room for the new.
“We are … sisters of mercy, brothers of love, lovers of life, the builders of nations,” reads one of the refrains in the composition “We Are …” by Ysayë Maria Barnwell, a former member of the a cappella group Sweet Honey and the Rock. (The piece was a fitting choice, having also been performed at freshman convocation for the Class of 2018.)
The song was not only a stylistic departure from other works in the Commencement program, said Director of Choral Activities Andrew Clark, who leads the Commencement Choir, but also a reflection of “the Harvard of today.”
“This particular song really speaks powerfully to the continuum of inheriting the wonderful traditions and values and identities from our ancestors and those who came before us, but also projecting and putting forth our own hopes and aspirations for the future,” he said.
“It was a piece that President Faust enjoyed as well,” Clark added. “So given her last Commencement with us, we thought we would perform it.”
— Colleen Walsh
Making his parents proud
For the parents of graduating senior Guillermo Gomez, the celebration was full of tradition and pomp, but also dreams and promise.
A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Gomez grew up one of four siblings in a working-class family. His parents Salvador and Francisca Gomez immigrated from Mexico in 1995 seeking better opportunities.
Salvador, a construction worker, and Francisca, a housekeeper, beamed with joy and pride as they stood in the Yard watching morning exercises. “I always knew he was going to do it,” said Salvador.
Commencement marked the first time the couple visited their son in Cambridge. On Saturday, parents and son will travel back home before Guillermo starts the next phase of his life.
— Liz Mineo