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Finding Her Voice

Graduate to deliver commencement address about perseverance and the benefits of helping others

 When Shakira Rosado, ’22, first moved to Massachusetts with her family from Puerto Rico at age 7 she spoke no English but was determined to learn.

“Learning a new language wasn’t easy, but I knew I was going to make it work,” she said.

Indeed, she has.

This June, Shakira will stand on stage in front of thousands at Gillette Stadium to deliver a speech during Bridgewater State University’s afternoon commencement ceremony.

“Standing in front of my university, my family in Gillette stadium and speaking English...I’m so proud of myself for being able to do something I never thought I could,” she said.

After moving from Puerto Rico and settling in Brockton, Shakira found herself in a new community, unable to effectively communicate with those around her.

The then-second grader was resolute in finding a way to have her voice heard.

She applied and entered a two-way program where she was taught both Spanish and English. As her confidence bloomed, she became more immersed in the community around her.

“I was always a good student, maybe I put too much pressure on myself, but I’ve always been that way, I’ve never wanted to limit myself,” Shakira said.

When the family decided to move to Bridgewater, she learned to adapt again. After graduating from high school, she enrolled in college, but her journey didn’t start at BSU. She spent two years at another institution before transferring her junior year.

While she was nervous making such a big decision, transferring to Bridgewater State ended up being the right move.

“I wanted to switch my major to social work and heard that BSU had a good social work program,” Shakira said. “I ended up loving it here. I enjoyed my classes more.”

She also got involved, becoming a resident adviser. In her role as an RA, she was able to use her strengths to assist others.

“I’ve loved helping others, especially first-year students. Being able to help them, to put them at ease, I loved being able to build bridges for them,” Shakira said.

Even before collecting her BSU degree, she had a job lined up as a resident director at Framingham State University, where she can continue to help students transition into college life. Whether that means locating the dining hall, what tutoring options are available, or simply finding a place to fit in.

“I love being the reason people might see things differently. I like turning a negative experience into a positive,” she said.

That’s the main point she hopes to get across when she takes the stage to speak at Gillette.

“Whether you’re feeling good or bad, nervous, or excited. Allow yourself to feel, to process everything. Be confident! Know you are knowledgeable, focus, and know you can make a good thing out of it,” Shakira said.

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