As East Early College High School seniors clad in black caps and gowns paraded into Dyer Stadium, they were met with applause and shouts of praise from families and friends.
The seniors were gathered for their commencement ceremony and proud mom Josefina Zuniga wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
“A parent wants the best for their child,” she said, cheering as her daughter, Ashley Quintero, stepped onto the field and made her way to her seat.
Graduation is a major accomplishment for high school seniors. But for many students, their success is bolstered by dedicated parents and other family members who provide support along the way.
Quintero’s road to commencement wasn’t easy. Her family had just finished renovating and repairing their home after Hurricane Harvey when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Both her parents were infected.
Ashley and her two older brothers — also graduates of East Early — took turns nursing their parents back to health. After getting better, the symptoms of the virus returned.
“That frightened the kids,” Zuniga said. “We got the vaccine. Then, a few weeks later, the winter storm hit, but we persevered. Nothing was going to stop me from caring for my kids.”
Through it all, she encouraged her children to stay focus on their studies daily and keep learning. And that’s just what Quintero did.
One of 11 students handpicked by Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan for a Superintendent Scholars Award, Quintero can recite a laundry list of activities and achievements — including earning 60 hours of college credit — that capped off her senior year.
Quintero will work this summer in the City of Houston Summer Jobs Program before starting University of Houston this fall.
“I am thankful for my dad, and especially my mom,” the senior said. “She motivated me to be me.”
Decked out in honor cords, a National Honor Society stole, and decorated mortar board, Quintero walked across the stage on Saturday morning. As she received her hard-earned diploma, her family hollered and clapped, gleeful noise that could be heard across the field.
Zuniga confessed that she misses driving her daughter to all her soccer games, cheerleading practices, and volunteer commitments. But she was thrilled to bear witness to her success.
“We are so proud of Ashley and her determination,” Zuniga said, smiling.