Graduating seniors of migrant workers get a big surprise at drive-thru ceremony

Coronavirus

WIMAUMA, Fla. (WFLA) – Graduating from high school is quite an accomplishment. For a group of seniors in Wimauma, their graduation was extra special after overcoming some amazing obstacles beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

For most of the graduates it was an accomplishment honoring their families. Parents who have spent their whole lives as migrant workers picking fruits and veggies in the fields so that their kids can pick a better future.

It was a celebration of cap and gowns in cars and trucks.

“We’re going to USF. Both of us! Go bulls,” said Rosalva Neri-Vaxcajay, a graduation senior at Lennard High School.

She and her twin sister got through high school together and are going to college together.

On Thursday, volunteers put together a drive through graduation ceremony with medals, pictures, surprise laptops thanks to a generous donor, and dinner to-go for the whole family; families that are used to picking the food for the rest of America.

“My dad was deported when we were 9-years-old, and my mom has been working hard in the fields ever since,” said Rosalva.

“It’s so beautiful to me, honoring farm workers. I’m so glad that it’s being done,” said Araceli Gonzalez, the 2020 Lennard High School salutatorian. She comes from a family of agricultural workers.

Her mother says the drive to learn and succeed has always been part of Araceli.

Most of students from migrant families switch schools 2 to 3 times a year following the crops.

“Some of them up north go to school, but many of them they don’t. They work with their parents,” said Olga Perez, a migrant advocate at Lennard High.

Overcoming incredible odds these students are bound for incredible futures.

“She promised us that she’s going to work hard for us and make sure that we got ahead in life despite what we went through,” said Rosalva about her mother.

Most of the migrants students who graduated are going on to technical college or universities.

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