The SUNY college — a state college in the New York public university system — put out the official announcement about Cesar Galarza and his daughter, Clarimar, who are part of this year’s graduating class.
The elder Galarza worked as a welder and a pastor to put himself through school and graduated Buffalo State College with a degree in social work.
“It was fantastic to go to school with my daughter,” said Cesar Galarza, to the college.
He said he was inspired by his daughter, Clarimar, who encouraged him to get his degree alongside her. And even though he faced a language barrier — as a native of Puerto Rico, English was his second language — he said it was important to him to persevere.
“I had to learn to write in English,” he said. “But I also questioned if I was too old to go to college. Did I wonder: Have I lost my chance? [But] once I got to college, I took it seriously.”
Clarimar, for her part, got her degree in art education from Buffalo State College.
Both father and daughter graduated with honors.
So, what’s next for the Galarzas?
Cesar Galarza is going off to the graduate program for the University of Buffalo’s School of Social Work. He also received the Excellence in Social Work Award, and graduated summa cum laude.
Clarimar Galarza, meanwhile, completed her student-teacher session at Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Multicultural Institute (Buffalo Public School 48). And as she continues to pursue her dream in art education, she said that she couldn’t have done it without her father’s support.
“If we got tired or felt like it was all too much, we’d talk through our assignments and everything,” Clarimar Galarza said. “We knew we weren’t alone. We knew we could overcome anything.”