She Came To The U.S. With Only $1,000 And A Dream For Her Daughter, Decades Later They’re Both Graduating College Together
Graduation season is well on its way and once again, Latinas are stepping up to the stage to prove once again that great success can be achieved by anyone who puts the work in. From ones embracing their parents’ immigration stories to others celebrating their parents for their own hard work, there’s no doubt Latinas know how vital their parents are to motivating them to reach for brighter, more informed futures. Recently, one Latina grad crossed the stage towards a future twice as radiant and positive then she might have guessed 12 years ago.
A mom and daughter both graduated from the William Paterson University in New Jersey.
The duo — Sandra Murillo a 46-year-old single mom to Katherinn Lopez-Murillo, 25 — graduated in 2019 class with degrees in public health and criminology, respectively.
Sandra first came to the U.S. from Colombia in 1996 but had to leave her then 2-year-old daughter, Katherinn, behind due to a custody battle.
Sandra said she arrived in the U.S. with $1,000, a suitcase, and didn’t know anyone.
“I just came here with hope that life would be easier…I never thought that coming here, I’d encounter so many challenges,” Sandra said to her university publication. “I was so alone, and I was so discouraged, and I felt like it was going to take me 20 years to graduate.”
In 2006, when Katherinn was 12-years-old, she was finally able to join her mom in the U.S.
Her mom instilled in her from day one that education would be her key to success.
“Unless I was sick, or something terrible was happening, I was going to school,” Katherinn told NBC News. “She told me if you don’t educate yourself, life is going to be so much harder for you.”
Both women enrolled at the school and now plan to relocate to Florida for new job opportunities.
“People like us,” Sandra said to her school publication about the struggles of immigrants, “we need to study, or we’ll never get ahead in life. We women especially, we have to be empowered. If you have money and no needs, you probably won’t want to go to school as an adult while working full time, because it’s hard; it’s very hard. But when you want to do it, and when you come to the end – when you finish and accomplish that goal – you have no idea how it feels. “I am so grateful. I thank God every day for giving me the strength, and for giving me this wonderful daughter who was there with me through the hard times, and for making this more special because she’s graduating with me.”
Can someone please make a movie about them?