Online education

Mother and daughter achieved their college goals together at WSU – WSU Insider

Gaby Hernandez thought college wasn’t for her. She immigrated to the United States at the age of 17 and graduated from high school in Bridgeport, Washington, but her path led to her motherhood and family life.

As their three children grew up, she and her husband encouraged their eldest daughter, Sinai Espinoza Hernandez, to consider attending college. To do so, the family visited a community college. Something clicked, Gaby said. Her children were grown up and she was considering getting a job outside her home. Instead, she thought, “Maybe I have something for college?”

Mother and daughter found what they needed at Washington State University, including transfer options and online education. As a result, they graduated together at her graduation ceremony in Spokane on May 5th.

Gaby is a Registered Nurse and has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Sinai graduated with a BA in Political Science.

They both credit each other and their families for helping them reach their goals.

“I got my inspiration from my parents,” Sinai said. “When we were kids, we were low or middle income, working with what we had. Both of my parents were like, ‘Do you want this kind of life or better?’ Do you want life?’

Sinai wants to work for a nonprofit that supports people of color and contributes to the community. Ultimately, she hopes to run for public office. “I need to understand their struggles in order to better serve people, and the people I am trying to represent,” she explained.

Her mother continues to work at a small hospital in Brewster, Washington, where she works as a night shift acute care nurse.

Gaby and Sinai both began their bachelor’s degree journeys at Wenatchee Valley College before transferring to WSU. Sinai spent a year at Pullman before moving to Seattle and earning his degree through WSU’s online global campus.

Gabby’s degree took longer than her daughter’s, and there were more difficulties along the way.

She paid for her first quarter of community college out of pocket, but was unable to keep it. As an illegal immigrant, she was ineligible for federal financial aid. A counselor in Bridgeport told her about the Washington State Financial Assistance Application to help illegal aliens find college tuition.

She chose nursing as her career and overcame challenges one by one. She earned her associate degree and transferred to her RN-BSN degree completion program for practicing nurses at WSU.

Gaby, who also recently became a legal resident of the United States, said in a Zoom joint call with Sinai that she was proud of her daughter. She said, “She’s just a go-getter and an inspiration to her (her brother’s) brothers.”

Sinai replied: “I’m so proud of you. I love you.”

Gaby Hernandez and her daughter, Sinai Espinoza Hernandez, have taken different paths to earn their college degrees, but their paths will converge on May 5. That’s when her mother and daughter passed the stage to receive their diplomas at Washington State University’s graduation ceremony in Spokane.

Gaby, who immigrated to the United States at age 17, had long believed that college was impossible for her. She entered Bridgeport High School to learn English, but after she graduated she got married and started her own family. It wasn’t until she became a mother to her three children and began learning about her children’s college options that she decided to pursue a degree on her own.

Meanwhile, her daughter Sinai was encouraged by her parents to go to college. She earned her associate degree, then transferred to her WSU at Pullman, but her life drew her to Seattle. She earned her degree at her WSU online at her global campus.

The two women credit their success to each other and the rest of their families.

Gaby says: “I am very proud of her and her drive. She organizes her own thoughts and her actions, carries out her plans. I am an inspiration to my brothers.”

Sinai says:

Sinai is holding hands with her mother, Gabby, both wearing WSU graduation gowns.
Cougar’s new graduate, Sinai Espinoza Hernandez, and her mother, Gaby Hernandez, have left.

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