Mother and daughter graduate from MDC together - for the second time
Miami-Dade County mom Luisy Martinez Barrera and her daughter Andrea Barrera have been through a lot together over the years. Now they’re sharing something that few mother-daughter duos get to experience — earning a college degree at the same time.
“I became a mom very young and I raised my kids,” Luisy Barrera recalled. “I always knew I wanted to go to school … but I never thought that I'd be here.”
Luisy and Andrea are among the nearly 12,000 students who graduated from Miami Dade College this semester. Students in this year’s graduating class represent 107 nationalities and speak 50 different languages.
The Barreras both earned a bachelor’s degree in Supervision and Management, with a concentration in Human Resources — while working full-time at MDC.
According to the school, the Barreras are also both on the Dean’s List and are members of the Golden Key International Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success.
"I think doing this program together … will always be one of the most special things I've done in my life.”Daughter Andrea Barrera
The duo were able to walk the stage at loanDepot Park together, receiving their degrees one after another. Luisy says her joy on commencement day was irrepressible.
“I walked first and after I shook the hands of the administrators that were there, I stopped and I turned around and I waited for her. And I told one of the administrators, this is my daughter!” she said. “It's amazing. The journey has been absolutely phenomenal for both of us.”
Incredibly, this is the second time the duo has walked at graduation together — back in 2019, the Barreras both earned an associate’s degree from MDC.
This time around, Andrea says it was challenging for both of them to balance work responsibilities and the demands of the classroom — especially when the COVID-19 pandemic cut them off from campus and each other.
“Not being able to see each other for months on end and only being able to communicate online or over the phone, that was really difficult because we are extremely close,” Andrea said.
Andrea estimates she and her mom took about 80% of their classes together. Through it all, she says they were each other’s biggest supporters.
“It's been a special, a very special thing. Like not everyone can say that I’ve gone to school with my mom! I’ve taken classes with my mom!” she said. “But it's been awesome. And I think doing this program together … will always be one of the most special things I've done in my life.”
"If your dreams don't scare you it’s because they're not big enough. If you have to start with one class like I did, then start with one class! "Mom Luisy Barrera
Both Barreras say they plan to continue their higher education. And they have some advice — don’t give up on your dreams.
“My biggest advice would be don't put yourself in a box because a lot of other people are going to do that for you,” Andrea said. “So don't let other people give you limits and don't limit yourself either.”
Luisy says she hopes she and her daughter can inspire other women to continue their education.
“If your dreams don't scare you it’s because they're not big enough,” Luisy said. “If you have to start with one class like I did, then start with one class! Just one class at a time. The years are going to keep passing us by … next thing you know, you're going to reach the end and you're going to look back and say, wow, look what I've done!”