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“Por ustedesempece. Por ustedesacabe.” His family can’t help but shed tears as they continued to read his message on a piece of paper. From what was supposed to be a family photo shoot for a Psychology Class, it clearly became something more. A young man from Texas named Hanss Mujica, 24, snuck behind his unsuspecting family all dressed in a graduation garb and with a couple of signboards. He was all set for graduation. All he has to do now is break the news to his family who had no idea he was actually graduating.
Hanss admitted that he has always had a problem with school and academics. He has always struggled and was never really the one you’ll expect to top the class. While at Juarez Lincoln High School in La Joya, he recalled that education at that level was a bit more forgiving. Teachers were expected to check on their student’s progress, remind them of their shortcomings and guide them first hand on how to improve. Unbeknownst to Hanss, this type of environment does not always get carried unto college campuses.
Hanss attended University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) in 2012. The reality of university life has been made clear to him early on. In high school, they gave him something to work on and was expected to finish it. In college, however, professors generally never cared if he does the work at all. This is something we all can relate to at some point in our academic life. Sometimes, are old habits get amplified ten-fold by the type of education we are exposed to. It isn’t entirely Hanss’ fault, of course. However, this certainly made matters worse for the young man.
A difficult time
Coupled with his old habits that has been carried over to his life in university, this all led to him getting a 1.47 on his GPA. By 2013, UPTA has placed him on Academic Probation and was suspended after his initial semester.
It was a difficult time for the young man. He recalled giving the news to his parents and how he was met by what he described as a “sad, disappointed look” from his parents. “It broke me”, said the 24-year-old in his interview with Valley Morning Star. It was the second time he has seen his parents like this. A while back in 2011, his older brother, Eduardo died in a car accident. He was supposed to be the first one in the family to finish college but after what happened, the burden was placed on the young Hanss instead. He swore that he’ll find a way to finish what he has started and finish his education. We have to give it to Hanss and his passion to make things right. It’s a good way to start his journey of redemption. However, it wasn’t going to be easy.
Hanss hoped and tried to return to school in 2014 but failed. Due to his academic probation and suspension, his Federal Financial Aid has been cut. In order to continue with school, he had to pay out of his pocket. He then took an emergency loan from his university in the summer of 2015. While he was able to continue with some of his studies, the loan proved too much and Hanss was not able to repay the amount due to it having accruing interest. Due to the loan not being paid back, he was dropped from the fall 2015 courses. He left school again for another year.
It’s obvious how much these setbacks have affected Hanss. Not just academically or financially but emotionally as well. It was obvious from the get-go that he wanted to finish his education and make his parents proud but sometimes life simply gives us curve balls and not all of us are able to keep up. For some, this might mean the end of the road. A reason to stop going and move on. For the young Hanss, it only strengthened his resolve to move forward.
Working his way up
He then found himself working various jobs to gather up some money. He worked as a bank teller at a local bank and admitted to making “decent money” but not enough to fund his education. By summer of 2016, he decided to leave his job at the local back to move upstate. He took worked for a scaffolding company as a helper for four months. Despite his fear of heights, he pushed on knowing that it is something he had to do to collect the money he needed. He also stayed at his friend’s house rent-free after letting them know of his situation.
Hanss knows that he has to work hard to realize his dreams. He was willing to do everything and take any opportunity to be one step closer to his goals. Taking a job that involves something you really fear is not an easy feat but Hanss took it! That was how far he was willing to go to be a step closer to his goal.
A Step Closer
By Fall 2016, he was able to be part of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) as a part-time student. He continued working on the side by being a car salesman at a local dealership as well. He was eventually able to pay off his emergency loans. He was then able to afford signing up to one class. With his funds clearly not enough to sustain his education, he took a risk and applied for financial aid once more. He was eventually awarded aid for Spring 2017.
From then, he got the financial support he needed. From there, he went on continuously from spring, summer 1, then summer 2, fall 2017 and all the way to Spring 2018.
“I told myself I was going to finish no matter how long it takes because I don’t want to see that face of disappointment on my parents again.” Hassan said in his essay submitted at the website “Love What Matters”.
Achieving his dreams
Hanss soldiered on until he got the confirmation he has been working hard for. He will be part of their university’s graduation rites. He has finally done what he set out to do. After six years of being in and out of school, he has finished his education. After working hard and never giving up, he has finally achieved what he always wanted. That’s to finish his education. Along the way, it’s safe to assume that he has also proven to himself that no matter the challenges, if you have the will and the willingness to work for it, one will eventually get to where they always wanted to be.
Based on census data, 209.3 million of people in the United States are 25 years old or older, and 66.9 million have a bachelor’s degree or higher (such as a master’s, professional or doctoral degree). Which means 68 percent does not have a bachelor’s degree. While some has proven that not having a college degree can still lead to a successful life, many still consider this as an advantage. Especially in the ever competitive job market. For the 24-year-old Hanns, however, this bachelor’s degree means more than having an edge. Especially since he’ll be the first one in his family that has finished education.
With his educational journey complete, he simply needs to let his family know of the good news but it has to be a surprise. According to Hanss, the “surprise” has always been a part of his plan since graduating High School. It was simply delayed due to the challenges he has faced. His parents knew that he was still studying but had no idea he is actually graduating. He then proceeded with the plan.
Surprise of a Lifetime
He was able to convince his parents to dress up for a photo shoot that he said was for a project in his Psychology course. True enough, his family took the bait and with the help of his friends, the plan sprang into action. While his family waited, he quickly changed clothed into his graduation clothes and snuck behind him while his girlfriend started the recording. In his hands was a sign saying: “They have no idea I am Graduating”. Clearly intended for the audience who’ll be watching the recording later. His girlfriend then handed his family with an envelope. Inside were two tickets. As he mentioned in an article by LMT Online, it said:
“Mom and Dad, there are not enough words in this world that begin to describe how much you mean to me. Now as an adult, I see how much you guys sacrificed to keep me, my sister and my brother happy.”
Tears started pouring in his parents’ eyes as they continued to read his letter. The two tickets were invitations for the graduation ceremony and all but confirms that their son has finally made it. With a slight point of a finger from Hanss’s friends, the family looked behind them. There he stood. Relieved that his years’ worth of planning has finally come together. He held in his hands sign: “Gracias mama y papa!”
If there’s anything we can get from Hanss story it is his unbending resolve and the strong will to finish what he has started. “Por ustedesempece. Por ustedesacabe.” For you I started, for you I finished. No matter what challenges went his way, he never gave up and kept working hard to get where he is now. His love for family and dedication to his dream is undeniably inspiring. His journey is something we all should learn from.