Jorge Ramos was a young immigrant from Mexico when he received a certificate in journalism from the UCLA Extension in 1984.
This month, the Univision anchor and Fusion host spoke at the 2015 graduation ceremony, describing America as the land of second chances. “For me, UCLA Extension gave me that second chance in life. It allowed me to reinvent myself.”
Ramos, who recently criticized comments made about Mexican immigrants by Donald Trump, told the graduates about his decision to leave Mexico:
Let me tell you something. You don’t become an immigrant because you want to. You become an immigrant because you have to. As French traveler Alexis de Tocqueville once said, “the happy and the powerful do not go into exile.”
In my case, I had to leave Mexico. I was a young reporter working for a television network when my third story on the air was completely censored. Back then, when Mexico was not a democracy, you couldn’t criticize the president in the media. Well, I tried and it didn’t work.
I was devastated. I didn’t want to be a censored journalist but I had a pretty good job and my career was just beginning. Many people suggested that I just let it go and move on to the next story. But I couldn’t. So, before being fired, I wrote a letter of resignation and I quit.
Ramos urged the graduates to go where they wanted to go, and do the work they want to do. For him, that path led ultimately to Miami and a high visibility role in network television. But his time in America began simply, in Los Angeles:
The second most difficult decision in my life was to immigrate, alone, to the United States. I sold my old car, got a few dollars, applied to UCLA Extension and came here with a student visa.
I still remember that moment. After landing at LAX, everything I owned – including my guitar – I could carry with both hands. That’s freedom. I’ve never felt freer in my whole life.