Sacrificing for studies: a tribute to parents of college students

Posted: June 11, 2018 12:00:00 PM CDT

parents inspiring studentBehind every successful college student at the University of Nebraska at Kearney—whether on campus or online—is a group of supportive people who understand what it means to earn a degree. Often, these people are the students’ parents, who would sacrifice anything for the sake of their children’s education.

Such is the story of Constancio and Maria Guadalupe Perales, who moved from Mexico to the United States in the hopes of creating a better life for their four children—Javier, Cecilia (Ceci; shown in photo), Claudia, and Maribel. Their dream: making a college education possible for each of them.

With only a third-grade education himself, Constancio went to work as a chuck boner for Tyson meat packing plant in Lexington, Nebraska. The job involves using a knife and hook to trim and cut the meat from the bone in extreme conditions where he stands for 8 to 10 hours a day. Since he began the job in 1996, he has not taken a single day off from work—until the day of his daughter Ceci’s graduation from UNK in 2017.

“My dad is 55 years old and is still working at the same job,” said Ceci, now a graduate student in UNK’s online Spanish Education program. “He can hardly bend his hands because of his work. I think, wow, if he can go every day to work and do the type of job he does, I don’t care if that class is hard. I can do it.”

Ceci’s mother, Maria, has also played a large role in her children’s educational journey and work ethic, serving as a custodian in the Lexington public school system. While unable to fluently speak the English language, she scheduled college visits for her daughter at UNK, knowing the importance of getting everything lined up for Ceci’s academic success.

“My mom has been on top of it,” Ceci said. “She’s not fluent in English. She would make sure that the ACT dates were posted on our fridge, and even though she had no clue what those were, she knew they were important and that I needed to go to them.”

Although Constancio has taken his first day off for commencement, it won’t be his last. Ceci’s two younger sisters are also on track toward a college education at UNK. Their parents’ hard work and sacrifice continue to bring their college degree closer each day.

Ceci recalls her father always saying, “I can’t leave you with a fortune like cars or a house because all of those things can be taken away from you. What can’t be taken away from you is your education. So, if you graduate from a university and receive your degree, I can die knowing that I’ve left you with something no one can take away.”

Thank you to the parents who inspire and instill the value of education in today’s students.

By: Alyssa Wyant

Category: eCampus, General

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