Culture

Congrats Class of 2020: A Celebration of Latinxcellence

It takes a lot of time, dedication, discipline, and hard work to earn a diploma or degree. Just because we are in the midst of a global pandemic doesn’t mean this is lost on us. It must be devastating for school seniors to not be able to celebrate graduating in the way that they wanted, especially when they are the first in their family to do so.

We are here to celebrate you, graduates. We see you, and we’re so very proud of you. And we are especially proud of the Latinxs that make up the class of 2020. Often, various hurdles must be surpassed in order to graduate high school and/or pursue higher education–and you did it. To continue the joyous, at-home celebrations we’ve seen on TV and online, here are 25 examples of Latinx grads showcasing their epic success.

 Vivian Marie

Vivian Marie is one of the class of 2020’s Latinx grads. The second-generation Chicana knew how important her accomplishment was to her family, who sacrificed so much to leave Mexico for America, so she brought her graduation ceremony home, to them.

Juan and Manuel Gomez Garcia

It’s impressive to have one graduate in a family–but two is amazing. Brothers Juan and Manuel Gomez Garcia are first-generation immigrants and first-generation college students who just graduated from UNC Charlotte. Their family looks super happy and proud, as we are too for them both!

Carlos Medina

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After four of the simultaneously longest and shortest years of my life, I did it. I actually GRADUATED! Nursing school was the hardest thing I have ever done but it was also the most worthwhile. There were multiple mental breakdowns and countless sleepless nights. All the blood (donating over a gallon during these past 4 years), sweat (from running to the carpool at 4am to make sure the clinical group doesn’t leave without me), and tears (there were a lot, literally crying all the time) were definitely worth it. Thank you to my friends for supporting me and helping me escape the scary parts of college every once in a while. Thank you to my professors for ensuring that I can make my dream come true and become an amazing nurse. And finally thank you to mi familia, I’m a proud #Immigrad and a proud son of immigrants. My parents crossed the border so I could cross the (now virtual) stage; all I wanted to do was make their sacrifices worth it and I hope they understand how much their unwavering support and love really meant to me and helped me on this journey. As a first generation American and a first generation college graduate, I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams and I hope I made them proud. To Penn State: when my journey began in August 2016, it was a rocky and upsetting start but through sheer determination and perseverance, I stayed. Here I am, in May 2020, graduating (virtually) from THE Pennsylvania State University (and unwillingly part of the inaugural class of Zoom University) and that is an honor for me to say. I’ve learned so much and am thankful for the person I’ve become through my time at PSU. To my fellow College of Nursing crew, congrats! I love you all and wouldn’t have wanted to go through this all with anyone else. I really hope we can celebrate together soon. These are scary times to be a nurse but I feel competent, proud, and humbled that I’ll be a part of the most trusted profession in America. And as this chapter comes to an end, a new one will begin and I’m excited to see where life takes me. We Are. Forever & Always. 🎓 🩺🔵⚪️ #PSUGrad

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Grad Carlos Medina also took to Instagram to celebrate getting his degree from Penn State. The nurse shares that the process was tough, but Carlos got through it, with a little help from friends, teachers, and  family. He is now a first-generation college student, and is a “first-generation American.” Medina made sure to shout his family and share his feelings of gratitude:

“Thank you to mi familia, I’m a proud #Immigrad and a proud son of immigrants. My parents crossed the border so I can cross the (now virtual) stage; all I wanted to do was make their sacrifices worth it and I hope they understand how much their unwavering support and love really meant to me and helped me on this journey.”

Grace Smith Rojas

Grace Smith Rojas celebrated her last day of college by sharing an Instagram photo of her holding her Latinx grad cap. The “proud Central American immigrad” from Costa Rica thanked her mom for helping her to fulfill her goal of graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Yadira Nava Castro

Julie Frausto celebrated the graduation of Yadira N. Castro on her Instagram profile. Yadira just earned her master’s degree, which is an especially impressive feat. She showed her Chicana pride, wearing a serape sash, and holding up Dolores Huerta’s iconic–and true–inspirational quote–“si se puede!”

Edgar Aquino Huerta

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We love this #viral 2020 Graduation Ceremony! Felicidades to filmmaker @_edgaraquino and the #ClassOf2020! Edgar, the world needs more storytellers like you. We know that walking across that stage is worth so much more to first-generation graduates, and our heart breaks for those who won’t get to experience that this year. Regardless, we are still so very proud of you for your hard work, your sacrifice, and your incredible accomplishment. Cheers to the Class of 2020. ✨ ¡Sí se pudo! ✊🏽⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #firstgen #pandemicgraduation #2020grad #latinxgrad #latinxgrads #firstgeneration #dreamers #latinxfilmmakers #latinograduation #latinograd #mepuselaspilas #sisepuede #sísepudo #2020graduate🎓 #2020graduation #daca

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Film major and aspiring screenwriter and cinematographer Edgar A. Huerta turned his graduation into a short film, complete with his co-workers, in PPE, applauding him as he walks down the aisle at his job, the job that allowed him to graduate debt free. And Huerta’s ready to take on Hollywood; in his own words, “Alfonso Cuarón here comes my screenplay brothaa.”

Frank Chapa

Frank Chapa’s proud sister, Priscilla let everyone know how proud she is of her college grad baby brother. The fam didn’t let having to stay at home due to COVID-19 dampen the festivities either, fully celebrating the completion of Frank’s studies at San Antonio College.

Joss Navarro

Joss Navarro, one of the creators of Mujercitas Rise, took to its account to deservedly shout out her own graduation. She was able to complete her studies (communications major, psychology minor) while also working two jobs (and going to school full time!), and serves as yet another inspiration for other Latinxs to get that degree.

Maya

High school graduates deserve their congrats this month! In another post by Mujercitas Rise, they shout out Maya, who just graduated from Olympian High School, and is headed to Cal State San Marcos. This Latinx is going from one accomplishment right into creating another.

Amanda Pericles

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13.1% of US adults have an advanced degree . . 9.6% of all adults have a Masters degree . . 8.5% of 25-34 year olds have a Masters degree . . 7% of Black people have a Masters degree . . 4.1% of Hispanics (of any race) have a Masters degree . . Speech-Language Pathology is the 4th whitest profession . . 8.2% are of a racial minority . . 5.5% identify as Hispanic/Latinx . . 3.6% identify as Black . . 6.5% of SLPs and AuDs identify as bilingual service providers . . What does that make me? 🤷🏽‍♀️ I don’t know. But I’m grateful to my husband, my cohort (especially my gals), my mentors, my family, supervisors, faculty, staff, and all of you. Ready for whatever comes next . . Amanda Marisol Pericles, MS, CF-SLP 🎓 . . shirt: gift from @languageandluggage via @jazzytees | #blackslps #slpsofcolor #latinaslps #blackslpsmatter #slp #speechlanguagepathologist #slpsofinstagram #theblackspeechie #bostonblogger #mastersdegree #classof2020 #blacklatinxgrads #speechie #slpeeps #blackgradsmatter #masteredit #shareblackstories #NSSLHAgrad20

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Afro-Dominicana Amanda Pericles broke down just how important and rare her graduation is. As a Black Latina speech-language pathologist, she is making her mark in an industry that is the fourth whitest profession. She is one of the 7% of African-Americans with a master’s degree, as well as one of the 4.1% of Hispanics of any race to accomplish that. But she is 100% a success story that we are immensely proud of.

Claudia J. + Co.

This super cool Tik Tok video, by Claudia J. and several other Latinx grads show how being a badass is more about what’s in your head than anything else. In the video, these Latinas go to the fridge to grab their degree–and in more than one case their degrees–repping for the culture and showing the world how Latinas get things done.

Jacqueline Grimaldo

Another Latinx grad we wanted to feature is Jacqueline Grimaldo. Her mom proudly spoke about her first-generation grad hija on Instagram, saying that she was so proud of Jacqueline, with or without an official graduation ceremony/celebration. Both were recently interviewed on the show Un Nuevo Dia, where Jaqueline was deservedly celebrated at large.

Angeline Montemayor

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I did it! From childhood abuse, foster care, adoption, loosing my grandmother (mom). I fought long and hard. The many times I wanted to give up. The long nights in tears. Studying till 4-6am while my kids sleep. I did it. First Gen Graduate. I beat every "you can't do it" "you know how hard that will be"! This right here is my support system. Along with my sisters @kats__bean and @_theenigma who was there every step of the way encouraging me and listening to how hard it is. University here I come ❤️ #frccgrad #coronavirusgraduate #frccgradwestminster #frontrangecommunitycollege #2020associates #collegegraduation #latinagraduate #firstgengraduate 📷: @yourdenverproperty @frccedu

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Angeline went through a tough childhood, but fought to create a better, more stable life for herself. Today, the wife and mother of two is also a first-generation graduate, completing her courses at Front Range Community College, and set to continue her studies at a university. Montemayor is living proof que si se puede!

Vicente Brambila

Vicente Brambila literally jumped for joy after graduating from Franklin & Marshall College, as seen in photos posted to his IG account. He, too, used Dolores Huerta’s “si se puede” quote to prove that if you put your mind to something, you can do it.

Michelle Galvez

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today would have been my masters graduation and i was reminded that this is no small accomplishment. i want to share this old pic from last year where the joy and relief of finishing my first degree was so beautifully captured by the talented @celihaslam, and i can only imagine what this year’s pics could have been. while i may not have been the first person in my family to get a degree, i am the first to pursue and obtain a masters degree (but not the last). the completion of my coursework has been very rocky and incredibly exhausting. whether i was staying up late at the library studying partnership taxes or trying to find some silence at home to take my valuations final, and simultaneously studying for the CPA, this year has been a lot. a lot of sleepless night, a lot of crying sessions, and a lot of mini celebrations of what i’ve been able to accomplish in my time at the U. graduating with a college degree is an incredible accomplishment and congrats to all of those who have reached this great milestone! cheers to the class of 2020 🍾🥂 #latinxgrads #latinxgradcaps #firstgengrad

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Michelle Galvez would have celebrated her graduation for her master’s degree on May 1. Not being able to participate in it, or get the corresponding photos taken, she shared pics from last year, when she received her bachelors. Michelle is the first person in her family to get a degree (but not the last, she declares), and we commend her for sticking with the program (while also studying for the CPA). We’re proud of you!

Melissa Yamilet Gomez

Another Latinx grad we want to virtually high five is Melissa Yamilet Gomez. She recently earned her BA in psychology from UC Merced, and is a San Francisco native with parents that immigrated to the City from El Salvador. Like many Latinx grads, Melissa is a first-generation grad in her family, and is “so proud to be representing the Bay Area and what a product of immigrants looks like.”

Jasmin R. M.

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Hace 4 años, cuando empecé la universidad Trump decía de los mexicanos que éramos unos criminales, violadores, narcotraficantes. Que chistoso porque aquí yo soy Licienciada en Salud Publica, becada mis 4 años de uni por buenas calificaciones, y premiada con el reconocimiento de Estudiante del Año de mi carrera🤪👩🏻‍🎓 Y no me creo mucho, soy mucho! y somos mucho. Porque es mi gente la que está trabajando los campos, la limpieza, hospitales, tiendas, obras de construcción, fábricas, escuelas- para que este país sobreviva. Los tiempos son difíciles, pero hemos salido de peores. Siempre hayamos esos rayos de sol. nod quisieron enterrar- No sabían que éramos semillas🌵🌹 🇲🇽 #latinxgrads #utahgrad20

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Jasmin took to her Instagram to share news of her graduation. She also pointed out the fallacies that Trump told about immigrants, and how they were criminals. Jasmin finds it funny, as she is licensed in public health, received scholarships all four years in school for her good grades, and got an award for student of the year in her chosen field. She goes on to say, “and I don’t think I’m a lot, I am a lot! And we are a lot.” Jasmin goes on to shout out to “her gente,” who are a lot because they are the ones “working in fields, the cleaning, hospitals, stores, in construction, factories, and schools–so that this country survives.” Preach!

Brenda Gualajara

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Goal: Earn my Master’s Degree by the age of 30 ➡️On May 20, 2019, I began the Master’s program, and tomorrow I turn in my LAST assignment 🙌(current age 29!) First and foremost, I want to say thank you to my partner, Dusten, my children, my sisters, and my parents, who are the most supportive team I could ask for! Thank you to all my professors who I feel like I can text anytime for guidance. A very special thank you to Dr. Roe Sepowitz & Future Dr. Hogan for not only allowing me the opportunity to work at the fantastic Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention and Research at ASU but for being great mentors and badass women! Lastly, thank you to my mom friends who have been there for me and helped me in so many ways from helping me improve my self-care to shuttling my kids to softball practice… I APPRECIATE YOU!👏👏👏 During these last 11 months, I’ve grown so much as an individual and a social worker. I’ve built relationships with community members, mental health professionals, professors, and (hopefully) future colleagues! I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to write about topics I wasn’t comfortable with because it’s not about learning to know more but learning to ignore less. I took 18 credit hours both fall and spring semester and accomplished obtaining a certificate in trauma and bereavement. As much as I'd like to say I'm done we all know that's not true lol 😂 To my classmates, these last couple of months have been challenging, to say the least. Many of us ended our internship abruptly and are now finishing up a very awkward last semester of graduate school via zoom. I wouldn’t be doing my job as an MSW if I didn’t try and help my classmates gain some sense of closure as we come to an end. I challenge all of you to join me in sharing your graduation pictures and use the hashtag #Classof2020! We may not be walking in May, but I hope we can all get together for a pachanga when this is all over! I miss you all! Time to plan a wedding💕! -Brenda Gualajara, MSW 📷:@wendyg_xo #ASUGrad #SocialWorker #MSW #LatinxGrad #LatinxGradCaps #FirstGeneration #ChillonaYChingona #QuarantineGraduation #SGNgraduation #EducatedLatina

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Latinx grad Brenda Gualajara proves that when you have goals, and take steps towards your goals, you can make it happen. She had the goal to earn a master’s degree by the age of 30, and ended up turning in her last assignment for the Arizona State University degree at 29. Impressive!

Melany Zacarias

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& just like that 4 years of my life came in the mail yesterday..#bachelorsdegree I finally did it ! I was so upset that my commencement ceremony got postponed but my family never fails and threw me a seafood boil🤤 & I mention that they never fail because they also never failed at supporting me, I was at my lowest last semester , it kicked my ass and graduating didn’t seem realistic, but there they were pushing me, from my parents to my sister to my boyfriend washing the dishes, cleaning the apartment and making sopitas so I wouldn’t have to cook dinner. Sometimes I feel like a failure because I don’t work in the field I got my degree in BUT there is my family again reminding me that this degree is going to allow me to follow what I truly want and accomplish my goals, & because I was blessed with two people who came to this country undocumented, worked hard, supported me & motivated me a puro chancletasos, I am now part of that growing percentage of Latinx with a degree.. words will never describe how grateful I am for my parents, my sister, and my other huge supporter, my boyfriend💕 who also pushes me to be the best.. I love you all 💜 #classof2019 #bachelorsdegree #lawschoolnext #chapina #latinxgradcaps #blovessauce @chentevicente1112 @kj_zacarias @henryaguilartv

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Another Latinx grad we have to shout out is Melany Zacarias. The class of 2019 member just got her bachelors degree in the mail, and was naturally upset that her commencement ceremony got postponed. Her super supportive family, however threw her a celebratory seafood boil. Although she couldn’t graduate in a traditional way, Melany is part of an even bigger, growing tradition, she is “now part of that growing percentage of Latinx with a degree.”

Elsie Guerrero

Hermanas in the Law took a moment to congratulate graduate Elsie Guerrero. She is a University of the District of Columbia law grad, and the president of Latinx Law Student Association at the UDC School of Law. How did the new Lawtina fete her feat? She threw a pink-hued, Elle Woods-themed virtual graduation party!

Nelson Cordova

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Today I finished my last finals! I’m officially done with college as a double major Criminal Justice and Politics and Law with double minor! These 5 years I spent as a college student was a lot of hard work, dedication, all nighter study days, reaching out to my professors, climbing obstacles, and so much more to get here! I will never forget when I stepped into college and being 200 miles away from home, meeting new people, built long lasting friendships, being in so many amazing organizations, playing intramural sports, being with people who believe the same faith I have, college sports games, community services, college events, performances, and so many more! I’m just grateful for all the experiences I had and how God transform the man I am today. Being first generation to graduate college in my family is an honor and it’s something that no one can take that away from me. Everything I did was not only for me but for my family but, most important for my parents because they immigrated here to live a better life and have a better opportunity in this country. My parents sacrificed so much for me to have a better education and be a difference maker in the society. They never had a chance to do that, so for me it was something that I wanted to do for them because they did so much for me. All glory to God for everything he did for me during my college years! Gracias a Dios que lo logre y termine mis estudios! No solamente lo hice para mi sino también para mis padres. Porque ellos hicieron todo el fuerzo para que yo tenga una vida diferente lo que ellos no podían hacer. Todo el trabajo y sacrificio que hicieron por mi no era fácil. Todo el trabajo para estar aquí valió la pena. ¡Esto es para ti papá y mamá! Now and forever I’m a Roadrunner! 🔶🔷🤙🏽 #utsa #utsa2020 #collegegrad

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When you are the first person to accomplish something in a particular group, you are serving as inspiration, opening the door for others to follow you towards that success. Nelson Cordova is a first-generation graduate, becoming that inspiration for his family. He gives all glory to God for making it happen, and wanted to give back to his immigrant parents for their sacrifices, with his success.

Summer Cevallos

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LAWTINA FEATURE: SUMMER CEVALLOS Summer was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She is graduating from Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Suma Cum Laude and the Salutatorian of her class. She has always had a desire to work in public service and advocate for victims of social and justice inequality. Summer plans to run for government office and focus on criminal justice reform. Her aspirations to help change the criminal justice system began when she was a young child and her father received excessive prison sentences for non-violent offenses. As she grew up, she personally experienced the effect the criminal justice system had on her and her family, most importantly how it was not rehabilitative for her father’s true needs. Summer’s father passed in February 2020, and the last words she spoke to him were, ”I promise dad, I will do everything I can to help people just like you.” Summer is so honored and humbled to be graduating from an HBCU, in her own words, “Thurgood Marshall gave me the opportunity to achieve my dreams and where I come from… my background, my neighborhood… I wasn’t suppose to make it, but Thurgood changed that.” . . . Swipe to read Summer’s advice for Latinas thinking about law school! . . . #Lawtinas #Lawtina #LatinaLawyers #Lawyers #Abogada #Latinas #AfroLatinas #LatinaLeaders #Esquire #Esq #LatinaLawStudents #LawStudents #LawSchool #JD #ProudLatina #HLSA #LALSA #LLSA #Prelaw #SíSePuede #SheSePuede #HITL #HermanasInTheLaw

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Another Lawtina who’s about to go do great things in the world is Summer Cevallos. The Houston native just graduated from Thurgood Marshall School of Law (suma cum laude, and as her class’ salutatorian!). Before her father passed away this year, Summer promised to him that she would help people like him, those who would get unfair prison sentences for non-violent offenses, instead of rehabilitation. Cevallos is truly creating the change she wants to see in the world–and that we do too.

Thalia Rondon

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The Creation of A–Dam Good Designer Today I graduated from Parsons School of Design, with both Departmental Honors and Academic Honors, as an Integrated Design major with a double minor in Communication Design and Social Practice. From having to pivot my collaborative thesis to the quarantine measures and presenting it via Zoom, to receiving my title online and making my own graduation cap, this has been a senior year to remember. Thank you to everyone who was there from day one—which actually started with me as an Industrial Design major at Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru in my hometown, Lima. To all my family, friends, and mentors who cheered me on, especially to @scherezadegarcia for being the best thesis advisor I could have asked for, and to all my fellow IDP graduates. We did it! And I can’t wait to see where we all end up. Congratulations Class of 2020! #parsonssdsgraduation2020 #parsonsschoolofdesign #classof2020 #parsonsproud #newschoolgrad

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Peruvian Thalia Rondon didn’t just graduate from Parsons with a degree in integrated design, and a double minor in communication design and social practice. She also graduated with departmental and academic honors. Congrats!

Diana and Giselle Betancourt

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After a lot of prayer, careful thought and council these two cuties decided four years ago that going to an all girl college together while living at home was a good decision to help them out in the future both spiritually and in finding secular work. They have work so hard and stayed close to Jehovah God every step of the way making me the proudest aunt in the world. This past Thursday I decided to throw them a little quarantine graduation surprise for Saturday May 9th which would have been their graduation day, I’m so sorry to all the people that I didn’t get to as I was running out time and Thank you to all those that approached me with questions as to what we could do to make their day a little special given that they would not have a ceremony or a party to be able to celebrate with their loved ones at this time due to the corona virus. We tried to maintain social distance but sometimes an aunt just need a hug! Congratulations my sweet baby girls! I’m the happiest for you and with you! You did it! Yippie! I love you to the moon 🌙 and back 🌍 Meredith class of 2020 thank you for taking care of my princesses! https://www.meredith.edu/goingstrong/diana-betancourt https://www.meredith.edu/goingstrong/giselle-betancourt . . . #quarintinelife #quarintinegraduation #collegegraduate #graduationpictures #mcgrad2020 #mcgoingstrong #meredithcollege #classof2020 #capandgown #hardworkpaysoffs #thursdaymotivation #dontgiveup #jwsisters #twinsofinstagram #twinsisters #letsbehappytogether #downtownraleigh #downtownraleighnc #hustleandmotivate #hustlehard #inspire #quarintineparade #surprise #jwfriends #loveyoutothemoonandback

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Proud aunt Mariluna took a moment to congratulate her nieces, Diana and Giselle Betancourt, on their graduation from Meredith College. The women of faith didn’t get to celebrate their graduation the traditional way, but family and friends brought the celebration to their front door–responsibly–with a car procession.

Rozanne V. Villalobos

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A mother of 4 VERY ACTIVE in SPORTS, working full time, college full time, and moved to three different countries in the 5 years I was in school. Now that I am done I still do not know how I got through it all. I am done with school for now. #ontothenextone #americanmilitaryuniversity #latina #latinagraduate #entrepreneur #entrepreneutship #ba #bachelorsofarts #bachelorsofartsentrepreneurship #classof2020 🎓 #amu #americanpublicuniversity #americanpublicuniversitysystem #sash #whitedress #serape #serapesash #windy #windyandcold #deltamudelta #deltamudeltahonorsociety #honorsociety #honorsocietyofbusiness #livelife #geteducated #lovelife #goals #goalsetting #goalgetter #notdoneyet

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Rozanne V. Villalobos has four children, works full time, is active in sports, and moved to three different countries will also pursuing her degree full time. But despite such a busy life, she made it happen, earning a Bachelor of Arts from American Public University, while also being a member of the Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society! That’s awesome!

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