“My parents are fundamental in every step in my life. They have supported in all I that do and made the best decision ever when they decided to bring me to this beautiful country full of opportunities.”

Cross-Cultural Connections

Franklin Salazar will never forget the first time he saw the girl who would someday be his wife—and future classmate at St. Augustine College (SAC). “I was a sophomore in high school, and she was a freshman,” says Salazar, explaining that he noticed the girl was wearing clothing from appeared to be from his native Ecuador. “I introduced myself and so that was the first time we met.” Salazar immigrated to the U.S. when he was 12, accompanied only by his aunt and uncles and two cousins. He quickly learned that the girl in his class had also recently moved to Chicago from Ecuador and from there, the two dated, then married, and started a family—all while he continued the job at McDonald’s he had been working since high school. “I had later become a manager, so I decided to stop taking college classes and focused on work,” explains Salazar, who joined his wife in her Early Childhood Education (ECE) studies at SAC three years ago. “Through her experience, I saw that St. Augustine College was very flexible in the scheduling and understanding of our situation as immigrant people. She held my hand and told me I could do it—pushed me to keep going. But it was St. Augustine that showed both of us that anything is possible.” Salazar earned his associate degree in 2021 and graduated at the top of the class, earning the same valedictorian status his wife had received the year before. “I couldn’t believe it. I knew I did my best work and made sure I studied to take my exams, but when they told me I was going to give the speech, everything I did was worth it,” says Salazar, explaining that while his father always wanted him to continue his education, that dream often seemed out of reach with his busy job and young family. “My parents are fundamental in every step in my life. They have supported in all I that do and made the best decision ever when they decided to bring me to this beautiful country full of opportunities.”