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Couple Graduates Together for the Love of It

Wed Jun 1, 2016 at 04:38 PM

Hector Vazquez-Reyes and Kellen Duque Vazquez with children Tiffany and Hector IssacEarning their Associate of Arts and Science degrees from Blue Ridge Community College together was a labor of love for husband and wife, Hector Vazquez-Reyes and Kellen Duque Vazquez. Countless hours of tag-team carpooling, babysitting, studying, and working the late shift paid off. They are excited to serve as examples of dedication and perseverance for their children, Tiffany, age 6, and Hector Issac, age 2.

“We decided to do it all for love,” says Kellen. “To have and give a better future to our kids.”

“It was an honor and a privilege to graduate together with my wife,” says Hector. “To have my parents and our beautiful children present, cheering for us, meant the world to me.”

Both want to continue their studies and earn nursing degrees. Kellen has been accepted in BRCC’s program and will start in the fall. Both believe their Blue Ridge education is a great foundation for the future.

As an international student from Brazil, Kellen says, “I was eager to learn the language, the culture...and professors or tutors were glad to help me. I never felt [like] just a number.”

“I was able to meet great people and wonderful teachers that truly cared about my education,” notes Hector. “We all had the same goal and that was to succeed in our classes, one day at a time.”

The couple made many sacrifices along the way, but to make their families proud, they say, it was worth it. Blue Ridge offered flexible scheduling of classes, so one could care for the children while the other was in class. Hector worked 14-hour days on the weekends at the Walmart Distribution Center to make their college dreams come true.

“I have the calling to be a nurse,” says Hector. “I am the first one in my family to go to college. My parents are immigrants from Mexico and worked so hard to provide for me and my two sisters. I want to… teach [our children] that anything is possible if they set their mind to it.”

Kellen says, “We are happy and excited. So many good plans we have!”

(Photo credit: Yessenia Lucero)