The immigrant experience is filled with sacrifice and hard work with one goal in mind: a better life. This means many things to different people and to Jennifer Rocha and her parents, it means her graduating from the University of California San Deigo. Her graduation photoshoot captures the moment in a very sweet way.

Recent college graduate Jennifer Rocha wanted a special way to honor her parents on her special day.

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Rocha is clear in understanding that her parents are responsible for her success in college. Like so many people with immigrant parents, there is a need to succeed and make them proud. We want to honor their sacrifices to give us all of the chances they never had.

“I wanted to honor my parents in this photoshoot because through sweat, tears, backaches, they were able to make their dream come true,” Rocha tells mitú. “That dream was to put all 3 of his daughters through a college education in order to not end up working in the fields.”

Rocha added: “All migrant workers should get recognized due to the difficult, hazardous labor that they provide for us in order to make sure we have food on our table because nobody sees the behind-the-scenes of that vegetable or fruit at the grocery store. Without my parents, I would not have been able to get that diploma.”

Rocha is no stranger to working the fields.

Credit: @branden.shoots / Instagram

The recent graduate worked in the fields alongside her parents from the time she was a junior in high school and through college. That time in the fields really impacted Rocha and her made her the woman that she is today. She learned a lot about hard work and determination while working in the fields.

“I learned what real hustle is and the long, draining hours that these individuals have to go through every single day,” Rocha says. “Working under extreme cold weather where I could not feel my fingers and during hot summer days where it would reach 120 degrees outside, I was able to take that as a lesson from my dad. That motivated me to pursue higher education; as well, having my 2 older sisters as role models since the oldest has a Bachelor’s and Master’s and the other one has a Bachelor’s.”

Her parents were shocked when the photos went viral.

Credit: @branden.shoots / Instagram

The graduation photos were seen around the U.S. as well as around the world. Rocha’s parents were surprised to see that people around the world cared so much about their story. The photos were meant to show her parents love and appreciation and they became so much more.

“When I told them people from Germany, Mexico, Chicago, Miami, and so forth were coming to me sharing my pictures they were in complete shock,” Rocha says. “But I could tell they were happy as their hard work and their daughters were being recognized how they always dreamed of. Having their fellow coworkers come up to them saying how amazing it was that I did that recognition for them just brought so much joy to them.”

Her future plans involve working in law enforcement.

Credit: @branden.shoots / Instagram

Rocha has felt some pushback from people about her plans to join law enforcement. For Rocha, it is all about trying to change the perception of law enforcement within her community.

“It sucks that it takes one single officer to make a mistake in order to ruin the reputation of every single police officer,” Rocha says. “I want to be able to make the people/community feel safe and that they can trust me. I want to be able to bring unity and change.”

Most of all, Rocha wants everyone to know that anything is possible.

Credit: @branden.shoots / Instagram

“Nothing in this life comes easy, you must work for what you want,” Rocha says. “You must seek the tools needed and add them to your toolbox as they are not handed to you. If my parents, being field workers, were able to have 3 daughters obtain a college degree, then so can you.”

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