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U of U Commencement Remarks from Student Speaker Lara Galas

Student speaker Lara Galas addressed the graduating class of 2011 at the U's commencement ceremonies on May 6.

May 6, 2011 – My graduation from the University of Utah is not only the result of my efforts, but also the result of my surrounding support systems that have contributed to this milestone in my life. Without the love, guidance, and support of my parents, I know I would not be here sharing my story with you today. In May 2001, my mother graduated with a Master’s of Science in Nursing from the University of Utah. My mother, at 46 years old, had shattered the glass ceiling of higher education for me and I knew that nothing could ever stop me from making my dreams of pursuing my education come true.

However, even earlier my father reached a milestone that had an equally important influence upon my life. In 1972, he immigrated to Salt Lake City from Mexico to make his life in the United States. Although my father was never able to access formal education, he continues to remind me about the power and responsibility that comes with an education. I have the power to access knowledge, to raise my voice, and to question the world around me. I also have the responsibility to not waste my education.

One day, spring semester freshman year, on the way to class, ten Latino construction workers boarded the shuttle. Breaking the silence, one man asked me if I was a student at the U and what I was studying. I told him about my classes and that I was pursuing an English degree. When we reached their stop, he paused to tell me that he was proud of me and that he hoped I would continue with my education because there are too few Mexicano students on this campus.

After that shuttle ride, my attitude toward school changed. I was na