On May 2nd, College Access Now's (CAN) seniors came together to acknowledge their educational milestones at our annual event, CANmemorate! CAN's 2019 senior class of 372 students joyously celebrated their upcoming high school graduations and being the first in their families to head off to college this fall!
CANmemorate was full of food, friendship, and laughs as each of CAN's 11 high schools hosted a medal ceremony for their graduating seniors. CAN students, families, and community members heard inspiring speeches from our Executive Director, Guadalupe Torres, a CAN Alumni, Lester (Franklin High School '10 and Bowdoin College '14), and a Chief Sealth International High School senior, Clarissa.
Clarissa recited an inspiring poem about her personal identity, and rocked her performance on stage! Read her poem here:
Engulfed by the Eagle
by CAN student Clarissa Perez
Hotter than enchiladas with sizzling cheese on top.
Harder than abuelita's chocolate when you first begin to cut it.
angrier than a strong woman pounding her hands back and forth against maseca.
Frustrated, knowing that I
didn’t and never would belong...
Here being the place where-
Tapatio could never burn your tongue
or make you cry in shame,
but then you recall why you weren’t allowed to join in the first place:
“dark enough to be a Mexican”.
And the splash of pozole at night before I laid to rest
would never have any significance to me
because I could never comprehend the ingredients of that
nor of the Spanish language.
And I can’t help but feel disconnected
from the fear that my father bares as threatens to sell all that we’ve become
just in case "they" take us away.
because I prefer ICE in my horchata;
but he doesn’t prefer ICE in our home.
Blinded by the privilege of being an American citizen
yet I feel sorrow too;
When I try to understand all that my culture has to offer
or all that I could have offered it.
But feeling like a tourist within your own ethnicity can make it a place that you wish you hadn’t visited.
And I longed to be as pale as I could be, eating less and less, infatuated with the so called “European Complexion” .
Trying to smile when they were proud to say,
“You know what Clarissa, you’re going to be successful in life! You talk and act just like a white woman!”
And I continued to dance around,
screeching and begging for them to believe,
“I am Mexican! Without question, why are you questioning me?!”
In a big flowy colorful dress,
but for now, only in my dreams.
While I wish one day to understand what it truly means to be
A loud and proud
CAN could not be more proud of Clarissa and all of our AMAZING graduating seniors! Good luck on your upcoming college adventures.
Check out some more pictures of CANmemorate!