The Department of Social Work congratulates our Spring 2022 Graduate, Darinka Lechuga on speaking at the Spring 2022 UWO Commencement Ceremony. Here’s a little bit about Darinka:

Who am I?

I am a first-generation student graduating from UW Oshkosh with a double degree in Social Work and Spanish, as well as, receiving my certificate as a Global Scholar. I was born and raised in Milwaukee to parents who come from Mexican and Dominican descent. At UW Oshkosh, I have been fortunate to partake in many organizations on-campus. During my second year at UWO, I served on the United Students in Residence Life executive board. I served as the National/Wisconsin Communications Coordinator (NWCC) for the 2017-2018 academic year. While being the NWCC, I worked with student leaders around campus and made executive decisions on legislations that was brought to us. As I continued to find passion in working with people, I chose to work crisis and become a mental health specialist for Outagamie county for 3 years. Along with crisis, I worked several on-campus jobs, including, the Dean of Students office, the Accessibility Center, the Admission’s office, and the Student Affairs office. I am now continuing and expanding my knowledge being an intern at the UW Oshkosh Women’s Center. My plans after graduation look like continuing to work with first-generation students suffering from mental health problems. I will continue my work as a Bilingual Mental Health Navigator with Waukesha School District, working with students k-12.


What do I do at the Women’s Center?

Being an intern at the Women’s Center has taught me valuable lessons that I hope to use in the future. The Women’s Center is a space where everyone is welcomed. It is a space we provide on campus so students can relax, take on educational opportunities, and find additional resources that can be helpful to them. Interning at the Women’s center, I was fortunate to take on many leadership rolls throughout this academic year. I took on being a Body Project facilitator, co-hosting an event on campus, moderating multiple panels, hosting a conference, and tableing at many events. One of my favorite events I facilitated was the Womxn Leading UWO 2022 Conference. It is one of my favorites because I was fortunate to represent the Women’s Center, practice my public speaking skills, and engage with student leaders on campus.


What is my My Commencement Speech?

I am honored and excited to have been selected to speak at the 2022 commencement. My speech is focused on representing those first-generation students who made it possible for themselves and those who supported them along the journey. Every path is different for every student and should be acknowledged for whichever path they took and achieved. For the students who are not first generation, I want to also acknowledge their hard work and effort for continuing the lineage of continuing to educate themselves just as much as their other family members have done in the past. I want to talk about the American Dream because it is a dream that comes with barriers and challenges and it is something that people do not often think about. I also would like to represent marginalized communities by showing ally-ship, support, and advocacy. I aim to help others find more human connections that will create peace and equal opportunity for all. Delivering a speech focused on the daily struggles of marginalized first-generation students will speak volumes and will give the acknowledgement they need and deserve. Overall, I want to speak and deliver a message focused on expanding that dream and creating bigger accomplishments out of it.