Notre Dame Surprises First Generation College Student

Armando is a second generation Mexican-American and the first person in his family to go to college. He wouldn’t be where he is today without their support.

Grotto Network and First Time Fans partnered to give Armando and his family the surprise of a lifetime. Their joy captures the Notre Dame spirit.

Produced by Grotto Network with special thanks to:
University of Notre Dame College of Arts and Letters
Notre Dame Film, Television, and Theatre Department
Notre Dame Athletics
Rob Kelly
Dan Skendzel
Mary Pergola Parent and Dr. Thomas Parent Endowment for Excellence in Filmmaking

Video Transcript

Armando is a college sophomore and a 2nd generation Mexican-American.

Armando: I come from a background so different than a lot of my classmates, but I’m still here.

He’s the first member of his family to go to college, and he’s on full scholarship.

Armando: I’m still capable. You can’t become a product of your environment.

Today Armando’s parents are visiting for the first time.

Armando’s mother: He’s always overachieved. He’s always been wanting more out of life, wanting to do more, because he’s about something and he knows that.

Armando: I’m not here for myself in particular, I’m here so that my family members, this won’t be an anomaly. This is going to be something that’s recurring.

His parents traveled 2,200 miles to be here today. It’s a surprise.

Armando’s mother: The last time I saw Armando was seven months ago and now anxiety’s kicking in. Oh my God. Oh my God. (Laughs) Oh my gosh.

“If your parents were here, what would you do with them?”

Armando: I’d probably take them to my dorm, then go to Mass. Just kind of pray with them, and just let them know how much I love them, and just how much they were a support system for me while I was here, and there were times I’d feel like I was alone. I knew I always had them to have my back and that during … (crying)

Grotto: They’re here. We flew them out. We got tickets for all of you for the game and they’re here til tomorrow.

Armando: Thank you so much.

Armando’s family came to the U.S. through the Bracero program, seen here in this newsreel footage from 1959.

Armando: I come from a family of migrant workers. My grandparents would go into the fields, work 12 hour shifts for wages that were a dollar an hour, if that. I think they were just seeing something more, and I’m very proud of that. My grandfather, he wanted to see someone go to school. Fulfilling that dream for him was a fulfilled dream for myself and for my family.

Armando to his family: Yeah, these are the main steps, and essentially if you walk up them before you graduate, particularly the top step, then it’s very bad taboo and you won’t graduate.

Armando’s mother: No, don’t even touch the steps. Come on, come on.

Armando: Yeah, so—

Armando’s mother: Don’t look at the steps babe. Don’t look at the steps.

Armando: Put your hands up! Put your hands up!

That’s my bed.

Armando’s mother: That you didn’t make.

Armando: Hands through here, hands through here.

Armando’s mother: I know that. Let me put my head in right.

Armando: Alright, there.

Every six months to a year, we’d move to a different house. I did that 13 times before the eighth grade. A lot of kids that I grew up with have already committed murders, have already been incarcerated. My mom knew the dangers of that early on.

Fr. Joe Corpora, C.S.C.: Thanks for sharing Armando with us.

Armando’s mother: I had to. I couldn’t keep him to myself.

Armando: She just wanted to see me succeed. And setting up a trajectory that I didn’t even know it was possible to achieve.

Armando’s mother: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Priest: Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.

Heart open. With First Time Fans.

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