Selena Gomez is the latest among many celebrities to take part in the virtual commencement ceremonies happening across the country, in lieu of traditional cap-and-gown professionals, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Shared on May 23, the singer was a surprise speaker during the #Immigrad 2020 Virtual Commencement for graduating high school and college students from immigrant families, hosted by Define American, FWD.us, United We Dream, I Am An Immigrant, and Golden Door Scholars. Gomez shared her own family's very personal immigration story with the 2020 graduating class while telling students how proud they should be of their accomplishments.
"Congratulations to all of the immigrants," she began her commencement address. "I know that this is a virtual ceremony, but it's very real, and it's very real to all of the families and all of you and your communities. I want you guys to know that you matter and that your experiences are a huge part of the American 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 journeys and their sacrifice helped me get me to where I am today."
"Mine is not a unique story," Gomez continued. "Each and every one of you have a unique tale of becoming an American, so 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. So I'm sending all of my love to you guys today, and congratulations and I hope you guys are set off to be everything that you want to be."
Watch her powerful message in full, below:
This certainly isn't the first time Gomez has spoken about the impact her Mexican heritage has had on her life. She told Harper's Bazaar how important it is to her—and her fans—back in 2018. "I’ll never forget when I was doing [Wizards of Waverly Place]; I think I was 15 or 16," she recalled. "We would do these live tapings every Friday, and one Friday there was this single mother with her four kids. She was Latin, and she came up to me after, crying. Her kids were so excited, but I noticed the mom, so I gave her a hug and asked, 'Hey, are you okay?'"
"She was like, 'It’s really incredible for my daughters to see that a Latina woman can be in this position and achieve her dreams, someone who isn’t the typical, you know, blonde with blue eyes.' And I knew what she meant," Gomez continued. "When I was younger, my idol was Hilary Duff! I remember wanting blue eyes too. So I think I recognized then that it meant something to people. That it matters."
Originally Appeared on Glamour