Yesterday marked a year since I rocked my cap and gown to graduate from UC Davis! And it’s interesting; at the end of an unlikely trek through college, the only phrase that made sense to place on my cap was TuPac Shakur’s famous battle cry:

June 2014; Davis, California

When Shakur coined the phrase, he did so to reclaim the idea of what it meant to be a thug; rather than meaning a deviant or some kind of menace to society, he used the term to describe someone who could overcome any adversity in their life.

And at almost 400 miles away from home in the warm and lush greenery of Davis, joined on the grass by the friends and family who guided me through college and so much more, I had never felt closer to being one of the thugs TuPac inspired.

That day, I became the first in my family to go to and graduate from the University of California. But more importantly, that day I celebrated my mother in a place she thought she’d never see during my teenage years with her, when I had nothing but fire of ill-will on my mind and bad news on my hands.

At the end of the commencement ceremony, that fire was pure love, as I took off my cap and gown, dressed mom with the outfit, and handed her the program for her graduation picture.

Because of course mama was a thug too! The ultimate one.

Congratulations to all of the class of 2015, but a special shout out to the thugs, and all the beautiful mamas beside them!


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