Flavia de la Fuente, Irvine DREAM Activist, rocks the UCLA commencement.

We all know Gustavo and most of us enjoyed his commencement speech at UCLA last week. But even better was the student speaker, 22-year old Irvine resident Flavia de la Fuente (yes, the Force was very strong with Orange County Latinos that day.)

Flavia was described here as a “political science major who is a nationwide leader in the movement to pass the federal Dream Act.”

…De la Fuente was selected from a pool of 30 applicants by a 10-person panel of staff, faculty and students.

“We knew that Flavia would challenge the 2010 graduating class in a powerfully positive way so that they would want to emulate her experiences and take her speech to inspire their future endeavors,” said Joseph Brown, a UCLA staffer and a member of the selection committee.

De la Fuente will share the dais with Gustavo Arellano, author of the witty and incisive “¡Ask a Mexican!” column in the OC Weekly, who earned a master’s degree in Latin American studies from UCLA in 2003. She said her speech will challenge fellow graduates to stretch themselves.

“I’m going to focus on a theme of creativity and the importance of being artists in our own lives,” she said.

De la Fuente’s UCLA career has been distinguished by involvement in a range of political issues, including the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, human rights violations in Burma, and the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act, which provides a path to citizenship for undocumented college students…

De la Fuente said she made up her mind at 13 that she wanted to come to UCLA to major in political science. In fact, she still has a letter to herself, written in fulfillment of an eighth-grade assignment, spelling out the goal. “It was mailed by my homeroom teacher after I graduated high school and was on my way to UCLA to be a political science major, exactly as I had planned,” she said…

De la Fuente said she is most proud of her work on behalf of the Dream Act, a cause she was motivated to take up after witnessing the hardships endured by her undocumented classmates. In addition to activities advocating for passage of the legislation, de la Fuente serves as editor of DreamActivist.org, a nationwide online resource network for undocumented students.

“I don’t feel like you have to graduate to make a difference,” she said. “I feel, what better time to start than now!”

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.