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Speaking to Community

Commencement speaker shares how she found her place at BSU

Paulina Aguilar Delgado, ’23, moved from Mexico to Massachusetts just a few months before she enrolled at Bridgewater State University. Not knowing anyone and adjusting to life in a new country, she initially felt like a foreigner.   

When she graduates this weekend, Paulina won’t be an outsider.  

“Slowly but surely, I’ve made very good friends and found people willing to be my mentors and guide me,” she said. “Now, BSU feels very much like my community.”   

Paulina will represent that community from the Gillette Stadium commencement stage on May 13. As the student speaker, she plans to discuss life’s uncertainties and encourage her humanities and social sciences classmates to be certain about who they are. It’s a message that mirrors Paulina’s journey as a Bear.  

In finding a home at BSU, she embraced her Latin American heritage. And she shared it with her peers by helping run carnivals called Noche Loca as a leader of the campus club La Sociedad Latinx.   

“It’s been very nice to see that I’m not alone on campus,” she said. “There are people who relate to my culture.”  

A criminal justice major with a victimology concentration, Paulina studied the care homeless women receive in Arizona shelters through BSU’s undergraduate research program. She worked under the mentorship of Dr. Francisco Alatorre, an assistant professor who was also instrumental in helping Paulina prepare for her post-graduation plans as a law student at UMass Dartmouth.  

“He has guided me through what research in criminal justice is,” said Paulina, who also minored in psychology. “He has put me in the right place where I’ve taken advantage of opportunities.”  

Paulina praised the support of all her professors as well as Dr. Jenny Shanahan and Kacey O’Donnell of the Center for Transformative Learning. Under Shanahan’s and O’Donnell’s tutelage, Paulina became a mentor for other students conducting undergraduate research, allowing her to pay forward the benefits she received.  

Paulina encourages future Bears to become involved on campus academically and socially to maximize their college experience. One day, they too could represent their class on Bridgewater’s biggest stage.  

“When I came to BSU, I never dreamed of being the commencement speaker, let alone being the commencement speaker at Gillette Stadium,” she said. “For those who look like me and are in the same position I was feeling like a foreigner, just know it is very much possible.”  

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