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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Master’s Student’s Graduation Photo Goes Viral, Reaches CNN

CSP graduate student Erica Alfaro and her parents.
The photo of CSP master's student Erica Alfaro and her parents that went viral.

It was three days after the San Diego State University College of Education commencement ceremony and Erica Alfaro was going about her business as usual. More than a week had passed since she had posted her graduation photo on Instagram — a remarkable shot of her posing in cap and gown in a strawberry field alongside her farmworker parents. She’d seen the hundreds of likes, given a few subsequent media interviews and then moved on with her life.

It was at a meeting of the public speaking organization Toastmasters International on May 22 that Alfaro, who is finishing up her Hybrid Online MA in Education with a Concentration in Counseling program this summer, realized something was up.

"Everyone received me with a hug — that was strange,'" recalled Alfaro. "One of the Toastmasters members asked me, ‘Do you know that your story is all over the news?' I thought that he was joking! I knew that it was going to be on a local channel, but not in other places.

"I Googled my name and that's when I realized that he wasn't joking. I was in complete shock! I still am."

We’ll spare you the same Google search. Among the local and national outlets to have picked up Erica’s story in the days after commencement were 10 News, NBC San Diego and HipLatina. Over the weekend, the story reached CNN and Spanish language media (Para acceder a la versión en español de esta conmovedora historia, proveída por Univisión, por favor pulsar aquí).

(Update: The story has since been picked up by HuffPost.)
"My parents are very humble — every time that a reporter comes to my house, they offer them food." —Erica Alfaro
Alfaro said she chose to take the photos in the fields to honor her parents’ sacrifices. On the day of the photo she surprised her mother by walking in wearing her cap and gown.

"As soon as I walked in to her room she broke down crying, gave me a hug and told me that she was very proud of me," Alfaro said. "She repeated this numerous times, ‘Our sacrifices were worth it, all those hours working in the fields were worth it.'"

So what do her parents think of this brush with fame?

"My parents are very humble — every time that a reporter comes to my house, they offer them food," Alfaro said. "They feel very proud of me. They're also in shock. They are always asking me, 'Are we really all over the news?'"