"The reason I share my story is because I want to encourage undocumented single mothers, and people who suffer from domestic violence, to get an education and achieve their goals," Alfaro said
What you are, you owe all of it to your parents. They made sure you were comfortable, that you never went to bed hungry, and that you always had a safe place to call home. They tried their best to give you everything, and that includes a good education. Erica Alfaro is just another graduate this year, among the millions who made it through four years of college, but there was something special about her, and the way she thanked her parents for the education they'd given her. According to CNN, Erica still remembers and cherishes the advice her mom had given her when the two of them worked long hours at California's Central Valley tomato fields. "One day, I was very tired and told my mom and she said to me, 'This is how life is going to be from now on. The only people who don't have to go through this get an education.' Those words stuck with me," Alfaro, 29, said on Sunday. Alfaro never had it easy. That was quite evident from the age at which she graduated. Alfaro dropped out of high school at the age of 15 because she got pregnant, but she dove right back into education later, thanks to the advice her mom had given her.
Alfaro graduated from San Diego State University with a master's degree in education, with a concentration in counseling on May 19. She wouldn't have been able to be here if it weren't for her parents. and that's why it makes perfect sense that she decided to honor her parents in her graduation photo. So, she stood, proudly in her graduation gown and cap, with her parents who were in their work clothes, right in the middle of the fruit fields where her mother still works. "It took me almost six years to get my bachelor's degree," Alfaro said. "The reason I share my story is because I want to encourage undocumented single mothers, and people who suffer from domestic violence, to get an education and achieve their goals," Alfaro said. "These photos represent many of us," she said. "Our parents came to this country to give us a better life and we wouldn't be here without them."
Alfaro shared sweet pictures of them on social media, with the message: With love, I dedicate my master's to my parents. Their sacrifice to come to this country to give us a better future was well worth it. Alfaro's parents were never able to go to school. Both of them were immigrants who moved to the US at different times, but fate brought them together. Alfaro says her mother, Teresa Herrera, 51, and father, Claudio Alfaro, 50, are from Oaxaca, Mexico, and speak Mixtec, an indigenous language of Mexico.
Erica Alfaro was born in Fresno, California, but raised in Tijuana as her parents moved back to Mexico because they wanted Alfaro's mom to get a U.S. residency. So, when Alfaro moved back to Tijuana, she would cross the border every day to go to school. Then, when she turned 13, her family moved back to Oceanside, California, and they stayed in a one bedroom apartment that they had to share with eleven other people.
Alfaro has a brother and a sister, and she said that all three of them used to work in the field during their summer vacation. She's never had an easy life as it is. She decided to move in with her boyfriend when she got pregnant, but soon after she gave birth, her then boyfriend would reportedly make her sleep outside the house for months, with the little baby. Unable to take it any longer, she moved back in with her parents.
Then, at 17, she enrolled for a homeschool program in Fresno, thanks to her mom's advice on education. She was accepted at California State University San Marcos, but during her first semester, in 2012, her son was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Because of the stress, Alfaro was unable to perform as well as she'd have liked, but she kept going because she was determined to give her son and herself a shot at a better life because her parents worked really hard to make sure she had a better life.
Alfaro earned her degree in psychology from the university in 2017. She was selected to be the commencement speaker at the graduation ceremony. She then said her main goal was to become a school counselor and she hopes to encourage underrepresented students to continue their education. She also added that she wanted to work with domestic abuse victims and teenage mothers and give them a shot at life, too.