Erica Alfaro recently earned her master’s degree in education from San Diego State University. She plans to become a school counselor, and she feels she owes all her success to two very special people: her parents. She took to Facebook to pay tribute to her mother and father, Mexican immigrants who worked in fruit fields in Fresno, California, to provide for their children.
“With much love, I dedicate my Master’s degree to my parents,” Alfaro wrote in Spanish in the caption of photos of herself in her cap and gown alongside her parents in the fields where they worked. “Their sacrifice of coming to this country to give us a better future was worth it.”:
At the age of 14, Alfaro began to assist her parents in the tomato fields during the summer. She said her parents always instilled in her the value of education.
“When I told my mother that I was tired, she said, ‘This is our life. The only people that have a good life are those that have a good education,'” Alfaro told CBS 8.
She told CBS 8 she wanted to take graduation photos in the field to honor her parents’ hard work and sacrifice for their children.
Alfaro is the first person in her family to earn a graduate degree. In 2012, her brother became the first member of the family to earn an undergraduate degree. She hopes that her story will serve as inspiration for others who may be facing adversity to pursue higher education.
“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 told CNN.
Alfaro, who is herself a single mother, said it was a long road to complete her education, and she hopes that children of immigrants facing similar hardships will relate to her message of perseverance.
“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.”