Perseverance pays off for SUNY Cortland graduate

Perseverance pays off for SUNY Cortland graduate

It is graduation weekend for many college campuses across our Central New York.

Each student proving they can overcome many obstacles to earn a degree.

Overcoming obstacles is what Michelle Candelo has been doing since she legally immigrated from Colombia at 16 years old.

"I just focused on why you going to study and prepare yourself for the rest of your life. That's all I was thinking about" Candelo said.

When Michelle was a senior in high school, her family lost their home.

She had to finish while living in a shelter.

"It was tough. I think the hardest part of being homeless was seeing my mom in that situation. But with in myself I said 'Listen. I left Columbia for a reason.' Something bigger than me has to happen," Candelo said.

Something bigger did happen. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school.

Now, she is about to be the first to graduate with a bachelor's degree.

She said showing up in Cortland was scary at first. Eventually, she made friends and found a mentor in Professor Jena Nicols Curtis.

"Here is this person who's so cheerful, who works so hard, but always has a good word to say, who always so grateful for everything, never complains and she's experienced all of this, Curtis said.

Michelle's family thought it might miss graduation because Michelle's brother needed an unexpected cancer operation.

However at the last minute, with the help of Professor Curtis and a GoFundMe page, Michell'es family will see her walk across the stage.

"I think that all of the hardships that I have been through is like kind of prepare you and lead you to something bigger than yourself," Michelle said.

Michelle will put that into practice right after graduation when she starts working to help support her family.

You can click here if you would like to donate to Michelle's GoFundMe page.

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