Graduation ceremonies have started at Fresno State this year. A time to celebrate achievements for all students, and especially those who did it while beating the odds.
Like one young mom who is graduating with a double major. Ana Dominguez is receiving two degrees:
Political science and criminology after four years at Fresno State.
While in college, Dominguez had a round trip commute of two hours a day, juggled a part-time job, interned, completed college courses, all while raising her three-year old son, Liam.
“I was thinking about that the other day, I couldn’t really believe that now I am going to have you know a bachelors degree like I don’t know, I can’t really believe that I actually did it,” Dominguez says.
She did it, and managed to graduate with a 3.9 GPA. She has also been recognized as the political science department’s “outstanding student.”
“She just had a laser-like focus and was not going to give up for anything and I haven’t had a student like ana in probably 20 years in that regard,” says Kenneth Hansen, her adviser and political science professor.
But these successes didn’t come easy. Dominguez spent long hours at Fresno State away from her son.
“Some days I would leave before he would wake up and I would come back and he would already be asleep,” she says of her son. “He sacrificed probably just as much as I did if not more.”
Dominguez gave birth to Liam just before her second year at Fresno State, and she says the fear of not graduating haunted her often.
“The statistics are scary so that’s actually one thing that I did when I found out I was pregnant, Google ‘OK how much percentage of teen moms graduate,'” she remembered.
Graduating as a young mom wasn’t the only statistic she had to overcome. She commuted from the small town of Huron in Fresno County.
According to the 2018 American Community Survey, only 1% go on to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Huron does not have a high school, which Dominguez says make it hard for many to succeed, but not impossible.
Because Friday, she became part of that 1%.
“I want to make them proud. I want you know like not only my city, but my culture to be like, ‘Oh wow look at her, she was able to do it, I can do it.'”