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Grad Parents: From K-12 to Cap and Gown

Joel Molina
Brianna Cooper, with the help of her mother Sukie Hernandez, will be graduating this semester and hopes to attend graduate school in the fall.

When the moment finally comes for each student to cross their tassel over from right to left, the families and friends of every graduate are seen cheering them on in the audience. A child’s graduation is more than an academic achievement; for their parents, it’s a symbol of all the love, care, support and dedication they have provided their children with over the years.  

A student’s success is due to their hard work and perseverance that spans over their time in college , but where would these upcoming graduates be without the encouragement and help from their parents?  

Brianna Cooper, a forthcoming UTEP graduate changed her major three times before she made the decision to study youth development, general education and women and gender studies. Her mother, Sukie Hernandez says it was important to her that her daughter chose the path that made her the happiest. 

“At the end of the day, she’s the one that’s going to be focused or not focused on whatever it is that she’s studying. I’d rather she be passionate about what she does than doing something just to please us,” Hernandez said.  

Cooper hopes to attend graduate school in the fall and Hernandez says she will continue to be a source of security and strength for her child. 

“When we’re parents, it doesn’t stop when they’re 18. We have to be that backbone for them. If she wants to continue, we have to be behind her because if we’re not, it just makes it so much harder for her,” Hernandez said. “She’s lucky that she’s been blessed with both parents supporting her, whether it’s financially or just moral support.” 

Hernandez is beyond proud of her daughter’s achievements and says as her family’s first-generation graduate, Cooper will set the example for her younger siblings.  

“Being first gen, we haven’t had anyone graduate in the family, so I’m definitely proud to be a role model for them,” Cooper said. “I want to set that bar high so they can have the things that my parents didn’t have.”   

As Cooper receives her bachelor of multidisciplinary studies, Hernandez will have the chance to watch her walk the stage for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic halted her high school graduation.  

“I feel overwhelmed and overjoyed,” Hernandez said. “To see her cross the stage after the last four years since she didn’t get to do it the first time makes me so proud to know that all the late nights and hard work is finally being recognized.”  

For Maria Margarita Baca-Gomez, May 12 will commemorate her daughter, Maria Margarita Gomez-Baca second achievement from UTEP, only this time she will receive a master’s in business administration. After she earned a bachelor of liberal arts degree in graphic design and a minor in marketing in 2022, Gomez-Baca pursued graduate studies with the support of her mother.  

Maria Margarita Baca-Gomez says she has always been an active parent, but believes her role changed when her daughter started college.  

“It became more special, the involvement. It changed from coordinating field trips and extracurricular activities, attending parent meetings, and parent conferences to being part of the journey to find her career goals,” Baca-Gomez said.  

As a career-oriented mother and UTEP graduate herself, Baca-Gomez said it is dream come true to watch her daughter accomplish her goals.  

“To see her continue her career goals, I feel so much pride, not only as a mother, but as a woman because there’s nothing like seeing my daughter become a self-empowered woman,” Baca-Gomez said. 

Parental involvement is crucial to a child’s life and for Baca-Gomez, her goal is to ensure that her guidance will have a lasting impact on her daughter.  

“I also think it’s very important because parents are not forever. We’ve got to make sure that they’re going to be okay once we’re gone,” Baca-Gomez said.  

As graduation approaches, Baca-Gomez has a message for her daughter who is currently completing an internship with The Walt Disney Company.  

“I want to say that I am very grateful to my daughter for allowing me to be part of her career journey,” Baca-Gomez said. “The reason I strongly believe she will be successful is because she has a strong foundation based on her faith above all, her family support, and her education, which is very strong.” 

Hernandez and Baca-Gomez are extremely proud of their children’s accomplishments. May does not mark the end of their journey as supportive parents, rather, it is a new beginning for them and their children. Whether Cooper and Gomez-Baca decide to continue their education or not, their parents will be right behind them every step of the way.  

Cooper will receive her bachelor of multidisciplinary studies from the College of Liberal Arts May 11. Gomez-Baca will receive her MBA May 12 from the Woody L. Hunt College of Business.  

Alyda Muela is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]; on Instagram.

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About the Contributors
Alyda Muela
Alyda Muela, Contributor/Writer
Alyda Muela is a sophomore at The University of Texas at El Paso. She is a contributor at The Prospector. She is a multimedia journalism major with a minor in general business. After graduation she hopes to travel the world to continue to pursue a career in journalism.
Joel Molina
Joel Molina, Photo Editor
Joel is a graduate creative writing student at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is the photo editor who began his career at The Prospector in 2022. He hopes to continue providing the world and its people with different forms of storytelling that will hopefully make their day to day lives better.
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