May 20th marked the 18th Annual Freeman Legacy Dinner, honoring beloved longtime arts faculty member Bob Freeman and his wife Betty. While at Nobles, they provided support for all students and also were steadfast supporters of the school's increasing diversity. The legacy of connection and belief in every student’s potential is one that Nobles strives to sustain. Class I students of color and their families, and members of Class II, come together with faculty and the Freemans to celebrate all they have achieved, and to bid farewell to the seniors.
During a year punctuated by many difficult instances of racial tension and conflict across the nation, Dean of Diversity Initiatives Steven Tejada expressed his appreciation for the celebratory and positive tone of the event.
"I look forward to this night every year, but I must admit that I was looking forward to it a little more than usual this year. I needed a space that celebrated the identity of young people–this evening has always focused on diversity, achievement, and possibility. This evening highlights the fact that there is not one standard description of what it means to be a student of color at Nobles. The range of experiences in this room is vast, and the depth of involvement of this group within the larger community is significant.”
“You challenge stereotypes and continue to expand the concept of what it means to be a student of color, a person of color. I know you will continue to do this in your professional lives. This world needs your stories and your voices,” said Tejada.
Graduate Yasmin Cruz ‘02, Program and Grants Manager for Corporate Social Responsibility at John Hancock, spoke honestly about the struggles she faced before she arrived at her current role. Among the hard-won lessons she passed on were, “you and the company you keep have to remain committed to and invested in your future.” She also emphasized, “You must see value in yourself if you want others to see value in you.” And as easy as it is to judge and feel judged, she reminded students, “As you learned here, your identity has no boundaries. If you’re ever made to feel invisible…reject that and accept the most honest version of yourself, and do it from a place of love.”
Cruz encouraged all students to continue leadership for the public good long after leaving Nobles. Together with classmate April Watson, there for moral support, Cruz said, “One of the aspects of our lives that gives us the most joy and purpose is being leaders invested in something bigger than ourselves. I encourage all of you to find out what that is, and you will be the hope for a future generation.”