Rosa Salgado proudly walked across the stage Saturday to accept her diploma along with 14,000 other graduates from Miami-Dade College in Florida. For the 80-year-old grandmother, it was the culmination of nearly 20 years of hard work and determination.
"I'm very happy," Salgado said with a big smile as she donned her cap and gown.
She arrived in Miami 20 years ago with her husband and three children.
Salgado learned English, enrolled in school, and got a job as a paraprofessional at Miami-Dade College's child care center.
When the center changed locations, Salgado relied on public transportation, taking five bus routes to class and to work.
Then in 2005, her youngest daughter was involved in an accident that left her in a coma for an extended period of time. So Salgado reduced her class load from full-time to part-time.
But despite the hardships, Salgado finally graduated with honors. She says she is grateful for her family's support along the way.
"Thanks to everybody who helped me," she said.
The ceremony was a family celebration, as her two grandsons graduated alongside her.
David Salgado, who graduated with the same Associate of Arts degree as his grandmother, says she is an inspiration.
"For me and my family, for her to take this one step graduating, it fills my heart," he said.
Rosa Salgado said she plans to go right back to work... this time, writing children's books.