Latinx Film Student Becomes First Person in His Family to Graduate College -- Goes Viral on TikTok
Edgar Aquino Huerta is celebrating a huge milestone.
The 24-year-old aspiring screenwriter/cinematographer, who studied Radio/TV/Film at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, just became the first person in his family to graduate college.
"It's amazing. It was stressing, but I feel great now," the new graduate exclusively tells ET. "I'm happy that my entire community has been very supportive."
Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has forced high schools, colleges and universities across the country to cancel public graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020, Aquino Huerta and his loved ones still found a way to celebrate the unforgettable occasion.
Aquino Huerta's co-workers at Lucas Greenhouses in Monroeville, New Jersey, decided to throw him a makeshift ceremony in a greenhouse that abided by all the state's safe social distancing practices. Happily sporting a graduation cap and serape stole, Aquino Huerta slowly walked down an aisle of his workplace as a group of farm workers cheered him on.
"My boss, Jason Sumyski, asked me about graduation and how that was going to work. I told him it got postponed until late August, but that they were going to have a virtual ceremony on YouTube. He responded, 'Well, you might as well bring your cap and gown [to work] and have your own ceremony here," Aquino Huerta tells ET, of how the idea came to be. "He was being sarcastic but I actually imagined it in my head and loved the idea."
"I took it into consideration and asked one of the most humble farm ladies to help me," he continued. "She was excited and asked her crew to come help. It was so cute because she was basically the director of it all, placing everyone six feet away from each other."
Back in September 2017, Aquino Huerta documented his first day at Rowan University via Instagram, writing at the time, "I'm the first one in my family tree to attend."
"I walked into a classroom where [the] majority of the students were white, and a few had a different ethnicity. It was an amazing yet awkward feeling, but I felt very proud of myself, because I did it alone without the help of anybody," he explained. "All thanks to [Barack] Obama after he approved the Dream Act."
Aquino Huerta continued on, telling his followers that he also wanted to take a minute to "admire the beauty" behind the wonderful greenhouse he worked at, which helped him fund his dreams of going to college.
"It was literally built by hard-working Mexicans. A place that's always hiring during its good seasons, yet majority of the applicants are Mexican," he said. "So how are we taking jobs from people who would rather be customers than production workers? Thanks to the high amount of hours this job offers, I was able to pay my way out of county college... And now I'm paying my way out of a four-year school."
"Who knows what's going to happen next, but we made it this far," he added. "We can't give up."
Aquino Huerta has been very vocal on social media, and in his short film My American Dream, about the sacrifices he and his family have experienced throughout his lifetime. He was born in Puebla, Mexico, and was brought into the country as an immigrant when he was about 2 years old.
Then, a couple months before he entered high school, his mother, Benita Leonides Huerta, fell ill and had to go back to Mexico. The two have unfortunately been separated ever since.
"I just wanted to celebrate the moment with my mom, but only time will tell," Huerta tells ET of the one graduation wish he still has.
Aquino Huerta recently reminisced on what life was like for him and his family a decade ago, in a post shared to Instagram on April 15.
"Ten years ago today my dad and I dropped off my mom and sister at the airport. I remember leaving them at the gate, she just kept smiling at me but I knew she was in pain," he recalled. "I felt alone the first two years and spent my times walking all over Bridgeton, taking the transit bus, and would sneak out my uncle’s bike lol. I made some great friends on my journey. Friends that became family. I was spending more time with their families than mine."
"I'm also glad my dad sent me to work at different agricultural jobs. He thought it benefited him since it released some financial stress for him but it benefited me more," he continued. "I was a bit ashamed at first, but I’m pleased I got to experience that life. I appreciate the invisible people that I used to ignore. Just the thought of reuniting with my mom gives me butterflies. I hope everything gets better by then. #honorheroes."
Have you heard an uplifting story that brought you joy amid the coronavirus pandemic? I'd love to hear it! Share it with me on Instagram (@desireemurphy_), and for more heartwarming moments like this one, visit our Good News section for daily inspiration.
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