Shirley and Paul Manrique are two Peruvian brothers who confess that they study at St. Augustine College by tradition. “Our mother, Rosemary Vasquez, graduated in Early Childhood Education in 2009 thanks to the enormous support she received from SAC and especially from Dr. Bruno Bondavalli. We are witnessing how much they helped our mother achieve her dream of being a professional,” they said in unison.

Shirley is studying the same thing as her mother: Early Childhood Education, and Paul General Studies because he has not yet decided on a particular career. They came to Chicago very young from Peru and they had to see how their mother sacrificed to get them ahead.

“My mother is a fighter. It’s our source of inspiration,”says Shirley, 25, who arrived in Chicago in 2007 without finishing high school in Peru. His brother Paul arrived in 2010 with just 13 years and now at 20 already follows in the footsteps of his mother and sister. “I saw many sacrifices to my mother to come to study because my little sister who at the time was barely 6 years old and had to leave her in daycares because she was studying or working,” recalls Shirley.

“What I have engraved in my mind are the long nights I saw my mother doing her homework and the next day getting up early to go to work. The day she graduated was one of the happiest days of my life,” said Paul. “That’s why I’m going to follow in his footsteps and I’m going to do it here in St. Augustine where I’m checking in the flesh how they help you in everything, just like they did with my mom. In my house only St. Augustine College was spoken of as the solution to succeed. I think we already have SAC in our blood. “

Rosemary Vasquez, mother of these young people, is indeed a very enterprising woman, with perseverance to the test. She started her path to success in 2003 when she came to SAC to earn her GED diploma. After graduation she began his studies of Early Childhood Education. Obviously his responsibilities as a mother prevented him from concentrating on the study at 100 percent and so he could only graduate in May 2009 … but he never gave up his desire to graduate although he found it very difficult to approve some subjects, such as English, with that battled for years until dominating it. Today Rosemary is fully bilingual.

Paul says his mom is his hero. “She went to SAC and my sister too, and I had to follow the tradition. It’s just that I’ve seen how they’ve helped them. That was very shocking to me. I really appreciate all that SAC did for my mom,” he said.

Shirley adds that she is also in SAC not only because she knew she was going to be well treated but because her mom always supported her, especially after she got pregnant. “When I was discouraged, she gave me strength,” she said. “The day I graduate I will dedicate it to my mother, because she was the one who inspired me and gave me the strength to become a professional. Today I only have one year left to graduate from my mother’s career and achieve my dream of opening a child care center. And I know what I am going to achieve because I follow my mother’s example that everything is possible if you are perseverant and hardworking. She has done it, I will too.”

by Eduardo Alegria

Translation to English: Johanna Castro