LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - One of Texas Tech’s most popular students took the stage to graduate on Friday. 67-year-old San Juanita Valenciano, who normally rides around campus on her scooter, was part of the graduating class of 2019, majoring in Spanish and minoring in history.
Valenciano said she was excited to spot her family while receiving her diploma on stage. She says she’s been working on this diploma for 48 years.
“I thought about it and I was like ‘Why not?’ Jose was getting his Masters and I was working as a T.A. for Monterey High School and started going little by little and before I knew it, I was a senior in college. I’m like golly… I was just accumulating!”
Valenciano said going back to school was always a goal and a dream.
She wanted to be an educator, but then started to develop health issues like difficulties with arthritis. Her doctors encouraged her not to go back. So, she turned to hitting the books herself.
“I said, ‘I’m going back and I’m going to see if I can finish this time.’ I was getting closer, but what was holding me back this time was math. Every day, I would spend like four hours in the math department! I would go to my professors and ask them, ‘Please help me. I don’t understand this.’”
She even went to school with a couple of her own kids on campus and grand kids, to show them no matter how old you are, you can meet your goals.
“To show my kids and grand kids, finish what you start. Don’t stop. Keep on!”
She’s encouraging the public to reach their goals, too, and put yourself to the test.
“Don’t give up! It just takes time, pray about it and the Lord will guide you. You don’t have to finish it tomorrow, you’ll finish it eventually!”
Valenciano helped out a lot on campus with the TRIO Student Support Services, a group that aims to improve retention rates. There, she tutored others in Spanish, and also got some help herself with math.
Going forward, the new undergraduate wants to volunteer at her church.