Erica Alfaro dropped out of high school when she got pregnant at 15 years old but it was her mother’s advice that encouraged her to resume her education.
Thanks to her mother’s wise words, Alfaro, 29, just graduated from San Diego State University with a master’s degree in education, with a major in counseling on May 19!
Alfaro said it happened when she and her mother worked long hours together in 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 told CNN.
Her mother’s words inspired Alfaro to resume her studies and to celebrate her milestone achievement, she decided to honor her parents by taking her graduation photos in the middle of the fruit fields where her mother still works.
“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 wrote in the caption which she shared on her Facebook and Instagram accounts.
According to Alfaro, both of her parents never had the chance to go to school.
Her mother, Teresa Herrera, 51, and father, Claudio Alfaro, 50, are from Oaxaca, Mexico. The two migrated to the United States separately before they met each other.
Alfaro said she and her siblings used to work with their parents in the fruit fields during summer vacations.
When she was 15 years old, she fell pregnant with her first child and moved in with her boyfriend. Unfortunately, he made her sleep outside with her baby months after giving birth and that was when Alfaro decided to move back in with her parents.
Even though her parents never went to school, they knew just how important an education was for their children.
Thanks to her supportive and understanding parents, Alfaro continued her studies and enrolled in a homeschool program in Fresno, California when she was 17.
She then further her degree at California State University San Marcos and in 2017, she finally graduated with a bachelor’s degree.
“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.
She also hopes for those who are struggling or facing a similar situation will be inspired by her success story.
“These photos represent many of us. Our parents came to this country to give us a better life and we wouldn’t be here without them.”