The father and daughter recently received their degrees in social work and art education, respectively. Their achievement came years after Cesar and his family moved to New York from Puerto Rico in 2008.
Back then, the 41-year old father, who is a welder, did not even consider himself entering college. He enjoys helping people and actually provided emotional support at West Side Church but he hadn’t learned English yet.
“I didn’t think I was college material,” he said in an interview with Buffalo State. “I had to learn to write in English. But I also questioned if I was too old to go to college. I wondered: Have I lost my chance?”
His daughter, Clarimar, who is now 21-years old, encouraged him to go back to school. He took his high school equivalency degree and earned an associate degree before entering Buffalo State College, where Clarimar also studies, in 2019.
Since then, they go to campus and eat lunch together as much as they can. They also took two classes together last summer. They served as each other’s support system as well.
“If we got tired or felt like it was all too much, we’d talk through our assignments and everything,” she said. “We knew we weren’t alone. We knew we could overcome anything.”
Now, they graduated together as well and they are both with honors.
Moreover, Cesar, who currently serves as a pastor, was accepted into the graduate program for social work. Clarimar also plans to get a master’s degree.