USF News Archive

Brothers to Graduate With Common Goal: Provide a Better Life for Immigrant Parents

From left: Daniel, Rogelio and Jose Guzman-Ramos show off their new USF class rings. | Photo courtesy of Jose Guzman-Ramos

Tampa, FL (May 1, 2017) -- From the fields of Immokalee, Fla. to the commencement stage at the University of South Florida Sun Dome, brothers Rogelio, Daniel and Jose Guzman-Ramos will all graduate with bachelor’s degrees this Saturday, May 6. The brothers, sons of Mexican immigrants, will be the first in their family’s history to earn college degrees.

“We are proof that your circumstances don’t dictate your future,” said Daniel, 22, a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation scholar who will graduate from the USF College of Engineering with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. “We all had goals and dreams to finish college, and now that dream is a reality. It’s a very satisfying feeling, but it’s only the beginning.”

Memories of a “less-than-exciting childhood,” as Daniel describes, helped motivate the three brothers to get a college education. The Guzman-Ramos were raised in a low-income family in a south Florida town plagued with poverty. Their father worked long hours in the fields picking the seasonal fruits and vegetables while their mother worked in the local packaging warehouse – making very little money. Phrases like “times are going to be tough,” “we can’t afford that,” were common in their lives.

Their parents immigrated from Oaxaca, Mexico in the early 1980s with very limited educational opportunities compared to their sons. However, they continually reminded the brothers that an education is the key to success and a brighter future. Although the Guzman-Ramos brothers have different career goals, one goal remains constant: provide a better life for their parents.

“Education was always first and foremost for our parents. We want our parents to live with more comfort and not have to worry about bills and eventually never work in the fields again,” said Rogelio, 23, who will graduate from the College of Education with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. He plans to attend USF School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitative Science to pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

“Our parents missed meals and bills to make sure we had what we needed for school growing up. Now we are in a better position to give them back some of those meals they had to miss,” Rogelio said.

The Guzman-Ramos brothers grew up not knowing what it was like to relax when the school year was over. The boys worked in the fields during the weekends, summer vacations, and other scheduled breaks during the school year. They took it upon themselves to help their parents earn income for the house for bills, food, and school clothes.

“It didn’t matter how tired they were after working more than 12 hours a day, they always made it a point to make sure we did all of our homework,” Daniel said.

Daniel is currently writing a book titled No Time to Dream, highlighting his path to a college education, the resources he used to get there, and hopefully some encouragement for kids to believe anything is possible through good work.

The Guzman-Ramos brothers hope they can be an inspiration other children in Immokalee, and adults who are considering high school, including their youngest sibling Guadalupe, 17, and eldest sibling Yolanda, 28.

“We all feel like this was in someone’s divine plan for us to be in the position we’re in,” said Jose, 21, who like Rogelio, will receive a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. “We have to make sure we do the right thing, and stay true to our morals of helping our family and community.”

Story by Freddie Coleman, University Communications and Marketing

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