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Here’s Why Latinos Get Extra Emotional During College Graduations

Getting through college and receiving your degree is not easy at all – especially when you’re a first-generation college student. But despite the stress and sleepless nights, reaching the finish line is the best feeling in the world, both for you and your family.

If you’re the first in your family to graduate, your parents react one of two ways when you cross the stage in your cap and gown: they cheer for you at the top of their lungs or they completely freeze and choke up in tears because they’re so happy and proud of you. And this is why…

As the first in your family to get a Bachelor’s Degree, one of the things you have to bear with and adjust to throughout your years of study is the education gap between you and your parents.

CREDIT: STEPHANIE OSUNA-HERNANDEZ / FACEBOOK

The contrast between the workload in high school and the workload in college hits you hard in the face as you enter your freshman year. Because you’re the first one in your family to get a college education, you can’t really go to your parents for help – or anyone else in your family and at times it feels like you’re walking in the dark. They give you moral support along the way, but when it comes to your Mechanical Engineering: Finite Element Analysis class or a course on Medieval and Renaissance Literature and Culture, your parents’ hands are tied. This education gap between you and your parents makes it crucial for you to seek help from friends, professors and academic advisors. You have to go out of your way and make time to get the assistance you need because college is way too expensive to feel too shy or intimidated to ask for help.

“I don’t think my parents fully understood what I was doing at my university and why I couldn’t just do it at a local college. I think that until now that I’ve graduated and have the job that I do, they see what I was preparing for all these years.” -Stephanie Osuna-Hernandez

In addition to the intense workload of college courses, another thing that takes time to adjust to is being away from home.

CREDIT: @CHEERISCAM / INSTAGRAM

If you don’t attend a college that’s close enough to commute to, moving away from your home is not easy, especially if you’re extremely close to your family. For the first few days or weeks, waking up in a place that’s not your home feels strange and somewhat uncomfortable. From no longer having home cooked meals, to no longer being taken care of by your mom when you’re sick, there’s a lot that changes once you live away from home, and to be honest, it fkn sucks. There are some days that are tougher than others and sometimes you just break down crying because things get so frustrating and stressful and there’s nothing you want more than your mom and dad. You wish they were there to hug you, hold you, and tell you that everything is going to be okay, but instead they’re miles away and the only thing you can do is call. But soon you learn, this is what helps you grow.

“My mom is my best friend and my dad is a goofball, so I missed them all the time. I needed them all the time – especially when I thought an assignment was too hard or I wasn’t smart enough, I would just call home and my mom would remind me that I could do it, because she knew I could. I graduated because they didn’t and I chose to push harder because they told me that they knew I could. It was all for them.” -Camerina Morales

And one of the scariest things of all, is dealing with the cost of tuition.

CREDIT: ANDREW SANTIAGO / FACEBOOK

Being the first person in your family to attend college, also means you’re the first one to apply for FAFSA, scholarships and loans and anyone who has been through it will tell you it’s not an easy process. The harder part is knowing that you’ll have to deal with the same expenses for the next school year, and the year after that…but what if you don’t receive as much financial aid, or what if the cost of tuition suddenly increases, or BOTH? The price tag attached to college is scary AF, which is what makes getting through it such an immense relief especially because you don’t want to burden your parents by asking them for some help.

“It all hinged on this one scholarship that had the ability to change my life….and the day I got the call, I collapsed into tears.” -Andrew Santiago

But at the end of your college career, all of these struggles are completely worth it…which is what makes your graduation day SO. DAMM. SPECIAL. ❤️

CREDIT: @JROLDEE247 / INSTAGRAM

Getting through college is not easy, especially when you’re the first one in your family to do it. But the look on your parents’ face when they see you cross that stage, is what makes every sleepless night, every hour of studying and every stressful exam, completely worth it. This is the best gift in the world that you could’ve given them, and they will never stop showing you off – with immense love, pride, and joy.

“Nothing beats the feeling of knowing they raised you, and that you chose to succeed, that you chose to break not one, but many stereotypes.” -Camerina Morales

And the best part is that now you can be there for all of your younger brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews once it’s their turn to apply for college.

CREDIT: @JAZSM / INSTAGRAM

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re an idol to all of your younger family members. Seriously, you’re their hero. And now that you’ve gone through this process, you can now help out the rest of your family that also decides to attend college. It will still be a difficult journey for them, but at least they’ll have your support, guidance and advice, which is exactly what every student needs.

“Making my family proud was a priority, but hearing my baby brother say that he was proud of me was even better because I know he looks up to me…I guess it’s the same feeling I had when I was a little girl and looked up to my neighbors’ daughter who had graduated from med school in Guatemala. Children are influenced so easily, and I’m content knowing my little brother will follow my example.” -Jasmin Ramirez


READ: Mother of Mexican-American Student Killed In Paris Received Her College Degree In Her Honor


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At Only 8 Years-Old, This Little Mexicana Has a Higher IQ Than Einstein and is an Aspiring Astronaut

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At Only 8 Years-Old, This Little Mexicana Has a Higher IQ Than Einstein and is an Aspiring Astronaut

@PuenteLibre / Twitter

The Latinidad has been blessed with it’s fair share of geniuses. Carlos Juan Finlay, the Cuban physician who first linked yellow fever to mosquitoes, used his brains to save countless lives in the developing world. For American engineer Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina female astronaut, her genius took her all the way to the stars. Frida Kahlo, one of the most recognizable figures of the 20th century, used her genius with a paintbrush to create art that still resonates with viewers today. However, all of these people were definitely already adults when they were recognized for their gifts. The newest member to join their genius ranks is considerablly much younger.

Though she is just 8 years-old, Adhara Pérez already boasts a genius level I.Q. in the triple digits.

Twitter / @adn40

A native of Mexico City, Adhara has a measured I.Q. of 162. To put this into perspective, two of the worlds most famous geniuses, Albert Einstein and Stephan Hawking, each had an estimated I.Q. of 160. According to the “Yucatan Times,” the gifted Latina has already finished school, having passed elementary at 5 years-old and completing middle and high school by the age of 8. Adhara is now in the process of earning two degrees online, in industrial engineering in mathematics and in systems engineering respectively. She’s hoping to one day become an astronaut and colonize Mars.

Besides sailing through grade school in a quarter of the time it usually takes, the child prodigy has been busy with other projects. She has already written her first book, called “Don’t Give Up,” that tells her story of growing up as a girl genius. She has also appeared on several television talk shows and participated in different academic presentations involving space.

While her I.Q. is being celebrated now, it wasn’t recognized by her teachers and fellow students at first.

Twitter / @NMinutosMx

When Adhara was 3 years-old, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a condition that falls on the autism spectrum. One of the defining symptoms of the developmental disorder is difficulties with social interactions and relating to other people. It was around this time that Adhara was experiencing bullying from her classmates. According to the “Yucatan Times” the other students at school called the little genius names like “oddball” and “weirdo.”

Nallely Sanchez, Adhara’s mother, recalled seeing first hand the cruel treatment the other kids inflicted on her daughter.

“I saw that Adhara was playing in a little house and they locked her up. And they started to chant: ‘Oddball, weirdo!’ And then they started hitting the little house,” she told the “Yucatan Times.” “So I said, ‘I don’t want her to suffer.'”

At that tender age, the teasing already proved to have a horrible impact on young Adhara’s mental health.

Twitter / @marisolglzz

According to her interview with the “Yucatan Times,” Sanchez says that her daughter began to experience a “very deep depression” and no longer wanted to go to school. Adhara’s teachers told her mother that the unhappy student began sleeping in class and put no effort or interest into her classwork. This was obviously not for lack of understanding the work.

Sanchez knew that her daughter already had mastery over algebraic knowledge and the periodic table so she was sure that the problem Adhara was having wasn’t an academic one. She decided to seek a therapist for her daughter in hopes of helping her. A psychiatrist they visited recommended that the mother and daughter go to a local education assistance center for further testing. That’s when her genius I.Q. was identified and she began her quick transition through school.

While she was once bullied for being different, her extraordinary genius has gained her notoriety from fans all over the world.

Twitter / @aideefrescas

This year, Adhara was named one of “Forbes” Magazine’s 100 Mujeres Poderosas de México. She shares this honor with some majorly talented and powerful women such as Irene Espinosa (Deputy Governer of the Bank of Mexico), Alejandra Frausto (Secretary of Culture) and Yalitza Aparicio (the breakout star of “Roma.”)

Twitter has been sure to shower the little genius with lots of praise as well. Some Twitter users expressed that Adhara’s parents must be very proud of of their daughter while others pointed out that this is exactly the reason why we shouldn’t bully people who think and act differently than us.

For now, the future appears bright for this little genius. According to “Vogue México,” Adhara is currently developing a smart bracelet for children with developmental conditions that will monitor their emotions to anticipate and prevent issues. She is currently studying English in perpetration for entrance exams in the United States. The Latina hopes to one day attend University of Arizona to study astrophysics.

This Latina Used Her Business Savvy to Launch An App That Helps Undocumented Students Find Financial Aid

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This Latina Used Her Business Savvy to Launch An App That Helps Undocumented Students Find Financial Aid

In senior year of high school, Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca was told by her school’s guidance counselor that her dream of attending a four-year college was not in the cards for her. Salamanca, who had just found out that she was undocumented, had worked up the courage to tell her counselor about her immigration status. Instead of the support she was looking for, she was instead met with a discouraging response. “…She said to me, ‘People like you don’t go to college,’” Salamanca recently told Remezcla. Salamanca, needless to say, was devastated. 

Unfortunately, due to Salamanca’s status as an undocumented immigrant, she wasn’t eligible for federal financial aid. And because Salamanca was one of 11 children, she didn’t have the financial means to pay for college out-of-pocket. According to Salamanca, the conversation with her guidance counselor broke her “into a million pieces”. “This was the moment where I lost all hopes of being the first in my family to go to college”. But in the end, Salamanca had the last laugh. 

Years later, Salamanca used this experience to inspire her to create “Dreamers Roadmap”–a free mobile app that helps undocumented students find financial aid for college. 

While Salamanca was unable to take the traditional educational route that many entrepreneurs take, she instead used her grit and business-savvy to commit to changing the system that had failed her. “It took me a while to realize that I was probably not the only one in this situation,” Salamanca told Forbes. Once she had that revelation, she decided it was up to her to fix the problem. Instead of taking the traditional four-year college route, Salamanca enrolled in community college and got to work building her own business.

First, Salamanca devoted herself to creating a blog that gave undocumented and low-income students information about scholarship opportunities. When realized that she was one of 3.6 million Dreamers in the U.S. who were unable to qualify for federal financial aid, Salamanca realized she had an un-tapped market on her hands. Deciding to go a step further, Salamanca decided to create an app specifically for undocumented students who were looking to fund their college education. Despite having no formal background in tech, she applied for tech competitions–like the 2013 Hackathon for Dreamers. She left that competition with renewed confidence in both her ideas and her leadership abilities. It was then that she committed to both bringing her app idea into fruition and taking on a role as CEO.

Spurred on by her initial success, Salamanca decided to try her hand at the Voto Latino Innovators Challenge in 2014.

At the time, Voto Latino (founded by Latina actress Rosario Dawson) had put out a call for “Millennial-led projects that will improve the lives of and expand opportunities for Latinos in the U.S.”. Taking a leap of faith Salamanca decided to apply for the priciest grant: $100,000. Although she had no idea if she’d win, she decided it was worth a try. ” I thought to myself, ‘Well if I win even half, that’s a huge win for my project'”. And it seems that Voto Latino recognized the potential of her project as well.

Salamanca was ultimately chosen as a finalist for the competition and entered the final rounds in Washington D.C. as the only community college student as well as the only sole-female founder. At the challenge, Salamanca pitched her project to a panel of all-star judges that included Rosario Dawson, America Ferrera, and Wilmer Valderrama. Apparently, Salamanca made an impression. Voto Latino gave “Dreamers Roadmap” a grant of $100,000 towards funding. 

Now that Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca is CEO of her own company, her future has never been brighter. 

Salamanca has come a long way from being told that college is “not for people like her”. Now, Dreamers Roadmap has over 30,000 users and is integral to the college-admission process for many undocumented students. Not only was Salamanca named a “Champion of Change” at the White House in 2014, but she also received a House of Representatives Award in 2015, and placed in Forbes’ prestigious 30 Under 30 list. Although she has encountered numerous obstacles in her life due to her ethnicity, gender, tax bracket, and immigration status, she has overcome them all through determination and perseverance. 

But more than any of these other accomplishments, it’s the impact she’s had on people’s lives that is the most impressive. To date, Dreamers Roadmap has helped over 20,000 students find scholarships for college. “We hear from our users via social media or email on how our app has changed their lives,” she said in an interview with Forbes. “Hearing their stories reminds me that we are doing a good job and fulfilling our mission of bringing hope and financial opportunities to immigrant communities”.