Walking in graduation is important to Esmeralda Quevedo because even though she was an honor student, she could not complete her high school studies to walk at graduation. Soon she will receive her Associate of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Brookdale Community College, a remarkable achievement given her status as a first-generation student and a mother to three children under 9, including two with special needs, while also holding down a job. Nevertheless, Esmeralda remains resolute in her pursuit to be an FBI agent.

“I may have missed the chance to walk at my high school graduation, but earning my degree and walking at my college graduation is a momentous achievement that I will cherish for a lifetime,” Quevedo said.

Despite becoming a mother at the age of 15 and taking on six to eight classes per semester while raising her children, she persevered and has now surpassed expectations by graduating and planning to transfer to Youngstown State University, where she will care for her brother, who is a special ops Marine Corps member undergoing surgery.

Esmeralda takes considerable pride in her mother, who works double shifts as a baker, and her own achievement of getting into college with just a GED and learning English.

She cherished her time participating in the Criminal Justice Club, where she found her best friends, and was motivated by guest speakers, such as Judge Robert Holdman, who inspired her to continue her journey.

At her commencement ceremony, her mother and daughter will be present to cheer her on as she becomes the first member of her family to graduate from college.

Updated Photos:

Three women in grey caps and gowns.
Esmeralda about to walk across the stage at the 2023 Brookdale Community College Commencement.
Decorated cap at commencement ceremony., says Mommy did it.
Esmeralda’s cap reads “Mommy did it”