Student Spotlight

Si se puede: From Special Needs Mom to Advocate

June 02, 2019 by Victoria Lim

Brandman University’s Northern California commencement ceremony was held in Sacramento, celebrating 1,133 graduates from throughout the north state – 472 of whom crossed the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium stage to receive a diploma. Graduates from eight Northern California campuses of Brandman support students in and around Fairfield, Modesto, Monterey, Roseville, Walnut Creek, Yuba City, Travis Air Force Base and online.

Graduates and their guests heard from Anna Munoz, single mother of a child with special needs who received a Master of Arts in Education with a specialization in Education Administration. Munoz plans to use the tools Brandman gave her to be a better student advocate as she moves from teacher to administrator. Here are her remarks:

Brandman graduate Anna Munoz delivered the graduate student speech at the Northern Commencement ceremony on June 1.                    

"You sure look tired today teacher."

They had no idea.

My student was right, it is not easy going back to college, working full time as a single mom of a very handicapped kid. But that never stopped us, did it? We’re here today. Brandman made it all possible and our community needs us to have degrees to improve our home towns. It is graduation! Un fiesta! Let’s celebrate!

Thank to my director Seble, when I came into your office, you were my first woman teacher of color. And you taught me it was ok to go forth and have a future as a female. If you could get your  doctorate with a child, I can do it too. Thank you for inspiring me.

I would like to thank my mom, grandma, sister, my friends who helped me be strong and they gave me countless feedback to improve the Brandman essays. I’d like to thank my Bracero papa who told me education was the only way to get our people, la gente, out of the fields. He said, "Mija, it didn’t matter how many times I crossed the border, they can’t take what’s in here. You go to school and you make a difference."

I would most of all like to thank the Brandman teachers, staff and fellow students – you guys rock!

We overcame technical issues, wrote detailed papers, and collaborated for assignments forming a vital network of working professors, educations and leaders. Trabajamos tan duro juntos!

From personal experience of hardship, I will never forget when the doctors told me my baby had an incurable disease. But, it is treatable. They said I could not give up hope and he needed me. That’s what I’m here to tell you. No matter how hard it is, or how long the nights are, if you need help, reach out! There is always hope for a better future. Brandman has proved that to us and that is what I wanted to tell you about.

I got great news too: baby boy is doing better.

Personally, I remember thinking the system that helps special kids in school and society is difficult. I’m thankful for sign language translators here today because that’s how my son predominately communicated. I knew I needed to know more about educational law and to gather ideas.  I was sick of people telling me “We can’t help you like that.” I was like, “No, this is the law. I went to Brandman. I know now.”

Brandman gave me the tools to be a teacher and now the title of advocate and administrator.

Brandman helped me learn how to do research papers and man, did I do research for hours about educational law. I would go to these meetings as just a young mom, and I’d say “Here’s the law.   Here’s what it states. You have to provide this. Oh, thanks for providing this, we’ll help you more.”

Que Bueno! He’s doing better.

He is no longer classified as fully disabled but differently abled, and I think that’s true with all of us in college. We can always get better if we reach out and Brandman has helped us every step of the way.

He’s my miracle boy they didn’t know if he would walk to talk ad he can do both now. This whole adventure proved to me that great things happen when we work as a team. Brandman classes taught me how to research, write, and deliver information. A shy little country girl can stand before you with her degree, I can debate in front of a formal style classroom or courtroom. Whatever it takes to help our special kids do better in life.

I now do more school meetings. I’ve always translated but now I have degree and money to pay down those bills. The Hardest part is to see moms cry. I say “I know how hard it is. I’ve been there. Brandman has trained me and I’m training others.”

Thanks to Brandman I created my educational vision and it includes being an administrator where school allows all students to have proper access and equality to the greatest extent possible. A free and public education to the greatest extent possible, as the idea law states. My advice: go find the career that allows you to help others to the greatest extent possible. I think we accomplished our goals by graduating today. Gracias amigos!

And isn't that what today is all about, finding our purpose, creating light where there was once darkness, transforming our lives through education. We can and we will have a better future thanks to Brandman University, our degrees, our families, and supporters.

So, stand up straighter. It took my special boy three years with medicine and therapy to stand. It took him the last six years to just walk, and he did awesome at the Special Olympics. Let’s walk across the stage with pride!

Con ganas, si se puede. Anything is possible if we believe. Thank you!

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