Lia Beck
Updated May 25, 2020
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Tibrina Hobson / Stringer, Getty Images

During the time of coronavirus (COVID-19), celebrations that would normally take place in person have gone virtual. That includes graduations for the class of 2020. The Immigrad 2020 virtual commencement was held on May 23rd and included a speech from Selena Gomez. In addition to sharing her well-wishes with the graduates, the 27-year-old also shared a personal message about her own family’s immigration.

The Immigrad ceremony was held by Define American, United We Dream, I Am An Immigrant, FWD.us, and Golden Door Scholars. As explained on the Define American website, the #Immigrad campaign began in 2017 and “highlights the stories of college and high school graduates from immigrant families.” This year, in light of coronavirus social distancing measures, it was made into a full commencement ceremony.

“I know that this is a virtual ceremony, but it is very real,” Gomez started her pre-recorded message, according to People. “And it’s very real to all the families and all of you and your communities.”

“I want you guys to know that you matter,” Gomez said. “And that your experiences are a huge part of the American story.”

The “Lose You to Love Me” singer then shared a little of her family’s immigration story:

“When my family came here from Mexico, they set into motion my American story, as well as theirs. I’m a proud third-generation American-Mexican, and my family’s journey and their sacrifices helped me get me to where I am today.

She continued, “Mine is not a unique story. Each and every one of you has a similar tale of becoming an American.”

Gomez finished her speech by congratulating all of the grads and recognizing that reaching this milestone in their education was no small feat: “Regardless of where your family is from, regardless of your immigration status, you have taken action to earn an education, to make your families proud, and to open up your worlds. I’m sending all of my love to you guys today, and congratulations, and I hope that you guys are set off to be everything that you want to be.”

In addition to Gomez’s message, the virtual ceremony had actor Jeanine Mason (Roswell, New Mexico, Grey’s Anatomy) as a keynote speaker and included speeches from several students. The full ceremony can be viewed on the Define American YouTube channel.

The graduates of 2020 definitely didn’t finish school the way they were expecting, but regardless of what their ceremony looks like, they should be proud. And for the Immigrads, a speech from Selena Gomez is just another unexpected memory they’ll have from this strange time.