For this first-generation student, graduating wasn’t just for her. It was for her community, too.

Maria Mendez

Wearing the outdated class ring she ordered years ago along with her cap and gown, Veronica Rivera looked out in awe at the crowd of 30 people waiting to greet her.

It was Dec. 8, the fall 2018 graduation ceremony, but it was also a moment of triumph for the many family friends and University staff who supported her during her eight years of personal and academic struggles. But Vero, a first-generation college student, almost didn’t make it to the graduation stage.

Check out the full story here.