BROWNSVILLE — When Judith Herrera was 18, she had her first child. At the time, her father told her that she could not go to college.
When she had her second child not too long after, once again she was told she would not be able to complete a degree.
Nine years later, on Saturday morning in the Jacob Brown Auditorium at Texas Southmost College , she proved that prediction wrong.
“I took those words as a challenge. I’m not done yet, I’m going for more, and you should be, too,” Herrera said to her peers at the commencement ceremony.
Herrera was the keynote speaker at the event. She shared her secret to success in spite of the odds.
“You don’t have to be the smartest student or the student with the least responsibilities,” Herrera said. “You just have to want it badly enough.”
Herrera encouraged her peers to reflect on the sacrifices they had made for their education, and to ask themselves one question: Was it worth it?
Laura Sanjuan and Jessica Sierra, social work program graduates, certainly thought so.
“You have to make sacrifices to get what you want,” Sanjuan said. “I feel accomplished and proud to have my degree.”
Sierra said she had to put aside time with her family in order to complete her studies, and although it was difficult the decision paid off in the long run.
“My nerves were shot the whole time,” she said. “I am so excited for the future.”
Jesus de la Fuente completed the criminal justice program at TSC. He has had to put off his education due to his work at the City of Brownsville , but he is glad it is finally over.
“It took me a while after taking time off to work. I was looking for opportunities, but school became the best option,” he said. “It is going to open many doors and give me a better life.”