Home / U.S. / His parents were agricultural workers. She was a teenage mother. A viral graduation photo revealed his story.

His parents were agricultural workers. She was a teenage mother. A viral graduation photo revealed his story.



SAN MARCOS, California. – A photo of a graduate of California State University in San Marcos is going viral. It shows Erica Alfaro, 29, in a robe and robe, standing next to her parents, in the middle of a strawberry field in Carlsbad, California.

His educational trip was not easy.

"I was a teenage mother," said Alfaro. She was 15 years old and pregnant, and became a mother when she was 16 years old.

Alfaro said that she dropped out of high school and was trapped in an abusive relationship.

"The father of my baby forced me to sleep outside with my baby," said Alfaro. "That's the night I decided to go back to school."

He left Fresno and returned home to Oceanside. It was then that he remembered a moment since he was 13 years old.

"My mom took me to work with her in the tomato fields," said Alfaro. "And I remember that she told me: This is our life, the only people who have a good life are people who have a good education."

Alfaro was born in Fresno but spent most of his elementary school years in Tijuana, Mexico. When she was 13 years old, she and her family moved to Oceanside. His parents got jobs as agricultural workers. They never received a formal education.

"They can not read or write," said Alfaro.

All the signs pointed towards her repeating that cycle. But Alfaro was not going to let that happen.

"I did it for my son," he said.

Little Luis inspired her to finish high school through homeschooling and enrolling in college. The next step was Cal State San Marcos. Statistics show that only 2 percent of teenage mothers finish college at the age of 30. But Alfaro went ahead.

"At first I thought I was being unrealistic, but I started moving forward," he said.

But in 2012, Alfaro received a diagnosis that changed his life once again.

"My son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy," he said.

Depression overcame her, and she dropped out of college. But once again, he remembered that day in the tomato fields.

"I had so many excuses to give up, but surrendering was never an option," said Alfaro.

Five years later, he obtained his degree in CSU San Marcos. On Sunday, as if she had not achieved enough, Alfaro will receive a Master's Degree in Education from San Diego State University. She hopes to inspire the students, and her 13-year-old son, to never give up.

"My son represents a new generation," said Alfaro. "He will have a better future, he will have more opportunities and I will be there to tell him that it is possible, that he belongs to him, all those things that I never heard.

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