Dancing toward graduation
It’s not every student’s dream to be going to college with
his mom, but for Rafael Angarita it doesn’t seem to be a burden. The Biology/Pre-Med
major, and his mother, Carmen Sanjuan are
students at San Antonio College and both are set to graduate in May.
The mother/son duo said they could go the entire day without
running into each other at SAC (unless they have lunch together). They did take
one evening class together in the fall semester. At Carmen’s urging, they signed
up to take Ballroom Dancing 1. It was eight women and four men and the
instructor urged the men to dance with every woman. Rafael said he liked the tango
and the merengue the best, while Carmen especially enjoyed the waltz and swing
Carmen and Rafael moved to San Antonio from Bogota, Colombia in
2000. She enrolled at UTSA and began taking English classes. Carmen has an
architecture degree from Universidad de La Salle in Bogota, and earned an
associate’s in graphic design from SAC. She
is completing an associate degree in
education and a degree in photography.
“I want to work with people who speak Spanish – to help
them,” she says, explaining problems adjusting to the culture. Carmen
currently works as a framer.
Rafael, 20, hopes to be a neurosurgeon, get a doctorate in
cancer research and also work to improve prosthetic limbs. After SAC he plans to attend UTSA and eventually medical school in California.
A graduate of Madison High School, Rafael was accepted to
both UT-Austin and Baylor but did not have the necessary funds to attend.
During his time at SAC Rafael has been in seven clubs – including
the Mexican American Engineers & Scientist (MAES), the Glee Club, Society
of Physics Students (SPS), and Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement
(MESA). He has also received
scholarships including the McAllister Society Scholarship, T-STEM and San
Antonio Educational Partnership Scholarships.
Both mother and son have also volunteered with the Volunteer
Service Learning programs to help the community – cleaning the Texas coastline
and working with residents to clear burned lands near Bastrop. Rafael also lent
a hand to work with Habitat for Humanity.
“SAC has a ridiculous amount of opportunities – take
advantage of them,” Rafael said, adding his only complaint is that a lot of fun
Student Life Activities are held on Wednesdays – his busiest day for classes,
lectures and labs.
Rafael admits that navigating the puzzle that is financial
aid has been difficult. He currently has
an international visa but hopes to become a U.S. citizen before graduating from
“I love SAC – SAC is the best place. I love the people, the
teachers,” Carmen says.
She says there are vast differences between her educational
experience in Bogota and here. A
university education in Colombia was primarily for the wealthy, and electives
had to be within your major.
“(Here) you can afford to go to class, to be the important
person you want to be,” she said.
Carmen Sanjuan and her son Rafael Angarita attend SAC and will graduate in May.