An exceptional 21-year-old Lady, Jennifer Rocha has chosen to celebrate her educational success with her parents who works as farm workers to sponsor her education right from childhood till her Bachelor’s degree.
Jennifer Rocha graduated from the University of California, San Diego, United States with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology Law and Society. On her graduation day, she returned to the fields her family works in to take photos in her graduation cap and gown.
“I wanted to go back to the field because that’s what moulded me as a person and that’s what gave me the reason to pursue higher education. My dad’s lesson to the three of his girls was, ‘Hey, if you don’t pursue higher education, this is where you’re going to end up your whole life.” Rocha told the Today show.
Rocha’s parents, Jose Juan and Angelica Maria, both immigrated to California from Mexico, and have been field farm workers since they were children. Narrating how they farm, Rocha said they work overnight to plant strawberries.
She noted that while she was young, her father would pick her up from school to work overnight in the farm. “We would plant strawberries, get off at around 2-3 am and wake up at 5am to get ready, or else I would miss the city bus,” Rocha narrated.
“I admired the workers because they kept working despite backaches while flies, mosquitos, and bugs kept roaming their faces, getting into their eyes. Nobody thinks about nor sees what happens behind a vegetable you grab at the grocery store. But behind it is someone who breaks their backs every day working in the fields,” she added.
Speaking about her parents’ immense contribution to her life, she said she had to recognize their contribution because she would not have had a degree without them.
“During my winter break or summer break, I was working with my parents. That’s what made me want to go back and recognize my parents, because without them, I wouldn’t have the degree.” she told ABC affiliate KGTV.
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During her study in college, Rocha also worked with the University of California’s Police Department (UCPD), while balancing schoolwork in order to help pay for tuition, she told Good Morning America.
At times, her shifts would not end until 4 or 5 am, and she would have to be ready for class by 8 am, so she have to squeeze in a quick nap in her car, she said. She also commuted all four years from her sister’s apartment to save money.
“Having to work two jobs, commute, and go to school at the same time was a struggle. Many times I wanted to give up, but my parents and their pieces of advice and support were the reason I kept going,” she narrated in a Facebook post shared by the University.
“If it wasn’t for how my parents raised me I don’t know who I would be today. Coming from a field worker background has motivated me to work hard as my parents took my sisters and I to the fields in order to understand how difficult labor is,” she added.
With a Bachelor’s degree in sociology, Rocha hopes to pursue a career in Law enforcement with her goal set on increasing Latino representation in the field, she told GMA.