Lewis & Clark Graduate School Commencement
Sunday, June 2, 2024

Mercedes Muñoz (photo courtesy of Oregon's Teach... Mercedes Muñoz (photo courtesy of Oregon's Teacher of the Year) 2024 Guest Commencement Speaker
Mercedes Muñoz

Mercedes Muñoz, Oregon’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, has served as a learning specialist at Franklin High School (FHS) since 2013. In this role, Muñoz has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the special education push-in model. Muñoz is a member of the FHS Equity Team, as well as the FHS Safety and Poetry Slam committees. She is also highly involved in the recruitment of historically underserved students in Franklin’s Advanced Placement Program.

“Great educators are at the heart of student success in Oregon’s public schools,” said Governor Kate Brown. “What Mercedes has done to advance equity and inclusion at Franklin High School, especially with students from historically underserved communities, is a great example of the standard we must continue to strive for to ensure that every student in Oregon, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to learn and achieve.”

“Every student deserves a teacher who is unwaveringly committed to their success,” said Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education. “As a special education teacher, Mercedes delivers daily hope and encouragement to a wide range of students with varying academic, social and emotional needs. I look forward to her impact as a model for all teachers across our state this coming year.”

From Oregon’s Teacher of the Year

Arcelia Pena-Baltazar (she/her/ella), School Psychology '24 Arcelia Pena-Baltazar (she/her/ella), School Psychology '24 2024 Student Commencement Speaker
Arcelia Pena-Baltazar

Arcelia Pena-Baltazar (she/her/ella), School Psychology ’24, is a first generation graduate from Woodburn, Oregon who spent four years working with some of Oregon’s most vulnerable youth prior to pursuing graduate school. Pena-Baltazar attributes the time she spent working in residential and correctional facilities to her finding the field of school psychology, and for being the reason she is at Lewis & Clark today. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Portland State University.

“My professional experience working with the youth in those facilities sparked my interest in digging deeper into what some of them had experienced, understanding their lived experiences, and figuring out how I could be a part of a preventative system rather than the last stop,” says Pena-Baltazar.

Read Arcelia’s full profile >

Past Guest Commencement Speakers