First-generation college student Rosalba Carrera gives invocation in Spanish, speaks at VC commencement

Rosalba Cabrera Rosalba Cabrera

Rosalba Carrera’s mother, Maria, never had an opportunity to attend any school while growing up in an underdeveloped, tiny mountain village in Mexico with just 100 residents and no running water. She and her husband, Pedro, made sure their three daughters would have plenty of access to education by coming to the United States.

Carrera graduated magna cum laude with an Associate of Science from Victoria College on May 11 at the Victoria Fine Arts Center. She also gave the invocation in Spanish and delivered a speech during VC’s 99th annual commencement exercises.

“I didn’t see college as something that would happen,” she said. “My parents wanted to give me a better opportunity and more education, but they didn’t have a lot of expectations.

“High school, for them, was enough. We had a one-income household. They didn’t know about college scholarships or how to guide me. I felt I couldn’t do it on my own.”

After graduating from Edna High School in 2006, Carrera entered the workforce and became a mother. She and her husband, Beto, have three children — Donovan (14), Damian (7) and Desiree (10 months).

“My younger sister, Adriana, started college and got a master’s degree,” she said. “She’s been a big inspiration to me. I said, ‘You know what, I can do this.’”

When Carrera enrolled at VC in 2021, she wasn’t sure which area to study. However, an anatomy and physiology class piqued her interest in becoming a nurse. 

“It made me feel like I could learn something I considered difficult,” she said. “My plan is to pursue nursing in the Associate Degree Nursing Program.”

The idea of attending college was difficult at first for Carrera, who works part-time in a local daycare facility.

“In high school, I was an insecure person without a lot of confidence,” she said. “I always felt like I held back my full potential.

“When I decided to go back to college, I told myself I would be dedicated and do my best. I wasn’t holding back anymore. I wanted to shift my thinking, work on my insecurity and build up confidence.”

Carrera, a member of Phi Theta Kappa, has come a long way in a short time. Her husband, children, siblings (including her elder sister, Alma) and two nieces were there to help her celebrate on the big day and to hear her speak at the commencement ceremony.

“When I found out I might be one of the students giving a commencement speech, it was a little scary. Then I said, ‘This is what I need to do.’ College was probably easier than I expected. The classes weren’t easy, but everybody at VC was so helpful.”

Although Carrera took a nontraditional route to higher education, she is proud to have taken a leap of faith and followed through on her goals. And she’s just getting started.

“I see all of the sacrifices my mom made,” she said. “She left her home to try to give us better opportunities. It’s exciting to say I earned a college degree.”