The crumbling economy slowly stripped Joe and Gaby Alcaraz of work, their home and finally their only car, but it didn’t rob them of their drive to succeed.
Despite the obstacles, the couple continued to pursue their studies at Mt. San Jacinto College.
“We started to walk everywhere we needed to go,” Gaby, 21, said. “We applied at every store on the way. And as far as education, I would go to the school library to check out old versions of the books that we were using in class. All that determination paid off because the following semester, my husband and I both found employment and we were able to purchase our second home.”
The Hemet residents will be among the 1,322 students who will graduate from MSJC on May 26 at the Ramona Bowl in Hemet. Gaby will also serve as a student speaker during the ceremonies.
Gaby said she plans to encourage fellow graduates to view the obstacles they faced as stepping stones that gave them the skills they will need for the future.
Joe will receive a career certificate in Audio Technology. Studying under the MSJC S.T.E.M. Program (Science, Techology, Engineering and Math), Gaby will receive associate’s degrees in Science, Math, and Social and Behavioral Science. She has already been accepted to University of California, Riverside and has accepted an internship at the University of California, San Diego in the Universitylink Medical Science Program.
Gaby praised her fellow students and said she was inspired by attending MSJC.
“By getting involved in organizations and clubs, I have met incredible people that have the same courage and willingness to succeed,” Gaby said. “Being involved helped me to help other people and I love helping people. I love seeing people succeed and achieve their dreams.”
In all, MSJC will award 1,649 associate’s degrees and 249 certificates during the May 26 commencement. Last year, MSJC awarded 1,443 associate’s degrees and 188 certificates to 1,240 graduates.
California Senator Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet, will be this year’s commencement speaker.
Commencement starts at 6 p.m. at the Ramona Bowl, 27400 Ramona Bowl Road, Hemet, CA 92544.