HomeTop StoriesYoung parents graduate from San Jose State University together

Young parents graduate from San Jose State University together

Two San Jose State University graduate students celebrated receiving their master’s degrees together Wednesday — and they were joined by their baby daughter.

“We told ourselves we were going to finish it no matter what and that’s what we did,” said David Salinas, who will earn his MA in Counselor Education as a member of the class of 2024 at SJSU. “Taking similar classes and having that support was super helpful. On days when I felt exhausted or had reached my limit, she would have picked me up and vice versa.”

Salinas and his wife, Fernanda Renteria-Gonzalez, say there were many benefits to having a husband who followed the same program throughout their studies. But it also caused extra stress at times and it was no easy feat to make it to the end with a newborn baby.

“It was incredible to have a partner who can relate to the same topics we were talking about, same lessons, same classmates, similar projects,” says Renteria-Gonzalez, who will also receive her MA in Counselor Education from SJSU and join the starting class of 2024. “It does take a village, and I don’t think you know that until you actually have a baby and you’re like, ‘Wait, it really takes a village.'”

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Salinas wants to work with young people who may have encountered gangs or had negative interactions with law enforcement in their lives. These students are often left out of their education and career paths, but Salinas knows from firsthand experience the impact counselors can have on someone’s life.

Renteria-Gonzalez says mentors and advisors had a similar impact on her as a first-generation college student from a low-income family. That is why she wants to help others to be the first in their families to achieve the level of education that suits them. For this couple, the master’s degree at SJSU was ideal for the work they hope to do in their community.

“What I liked most was that I had someone I could have a conversation with every day,” she said about completing the degree with her husband. “The only moment I could think of was when we were writing those papers, it was a lot, so it was like, ‘I hear you typing too loud,’ like ‘You’re typing too loud’ or ‘You’re almost typing’ done, I’m not done yet, ‘right? It was a lot of that, like there was always someone who liked to compare, like I’m doing good enough’?

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Salinas agreed, saying that when their daughter Violenta arrived in early March, she absolutely challenged them to do it all in one go. But the support of their parents and extended family, along with their teachers and classmates, made it all possible. She was born on a Saturday and the following Tuesday they were still taking a class on Zoom. Together they made sure they only missed one class during the program because they could fill in for each other if one of them couldn’t make it.

“Oh my god, am I going too slow? Am I meeting the deadline? Wait, have you started that assignment yet? Oh man, I’m way behind, I haven’t even looked at the prompt yet,” Salinas recalled.

But the time they have spent together as spouses and parents has prepared them to better advise students who they expect will be in the same situation. Along the way, they had to make sure they took time for themselves and their marriage. The couple planned dates and always insisted on self-care during graduate school.

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“You too can pursue your graduate and higher education,” Salinas said.

“Take this as an example: if we can do it, you can do it, and with the support, anything is possible,” Renteria-Gonzalez said.

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