Immigrant mother and daughter graduate from the same college together
A Colombian immigrant who moved to the US 23 years ago has now graduated from college alongside her daughter.
46-year-old Sandra Murillo and her daughter, 25-year-old Katherinn Lopez-Murillo, both graduated with bachelor's degrees from William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, NBC reports.
Their respective journeys were by no means plain sailing.
When Murillo moved to the States from Colombia back in 1996, she was in the middle of a custody battle with her ex-husband and so was unable to bring her then-two-year-old daughter with her.
Without her child by her side and unable to speak much English, starting her new life in America was a huge challenge.
But through sheer determination, Murillo managed to learn English in just two years and worked several jobs in order to support herself.
This mother skipped her own graduation so she could attend her son's. So his college decided to confer both their degrees:
"I think that was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to endure," Murillo said.
It wasn't until about a decade later, when her daughter was 12 years old, that Murillo was finally able to bring her over to the US. "I always say to her we will be together and when we get together it will be for good," she said.
While Lopez-Murillo was still in high school, Murillo enrolled in an associate's degree program at a local community college before pursuing a degree in Public Health at William Paterson in 2016.
The single mother had always emphasised the importance of education while raising her daughter.
"Unless I was sick, or something terrible was happening, I was going to school,” Lopez-Murillo explains. "She told me if you don’t educate yourself, life is going to be so much harder for you."
Lopez-Murillo initially had little interest in going to college after graduating high school and began working as a cosmetologist.
Soon enough, though, her mom's work ethic began to convince the young woman otherwise, and so she pursued a degree of her own - in criminal justice.
"I thought college wasn’t for me and that I couldn’t do it," Lopez-Murillo said. "But when my mom enrolled, I thought, 'Okay, if she’s doing it, I have to do it, too.' It was hard … and at times we’ve wanted to kill each other because we both had so much pressure and were so overwhelmed … but it was absolutely worth every minute."
And after some years of diligent studying, the mother and daughter did themselves proud by graduating on the same day from the same college!