When Judith’s son, Jerwin, played soccer at Carolina High, his entire team could hear if she was in the stands.
“I would yell, ‘Go! Go!,’ and I am screaming and screaming… and he scores! If I couldn’t make a game, and they lost, the team would tell him, ‘It’s because your mom wasn’t here,’” she laughs.
Judith’s relentless outpouring of motivation extends well beyond her sons’ sports – it is a vital part of helping her family succeed as a single mother, and she understands the importance of surrounding them with many positive influences.
An effective community acts as both a cheerleader and a coach – wrapping an encouraging arm around its neighbors, and addressing the needs of each generation. Hispanic Alliance has met needs and provided resources for Judith’s family at critical points in their lives, reinforcing her mission to create a stable future and push her sons to become exemplary young men.
After growing up in Colombia, Judith joined her family in Massachusetts in 1996, where she learned a painful fact: her high school diploma and four technical certificates had no easy equivalency in the US. American employers valued diplomas over skills and experience, and this truth has stayed with Judith ever since.
“I fought very hard to try to get ahead,” she remembers.
After leaving an abusive relationship with her former husband, she moved to Greenville with her three sons, Eduardo, Jerwin, and Jeysner, heavily in debt. Through our Basic Financial Literacy classes, she learned how to avoid future credit card debt and met Hispanic financial professionals with a personal mission to equip families to succeed. She was connected with SC Legal Services, a member of the Hispanic Alliance network, which provided her with pro bono bankruptcy assistance, allowing her to restart her finances independently.
Judith was determined for her sons to be successful through understanding the education needed to progress in the United States. A key to her success is her reliance on community: a willingness to search for information and to ask for assistance, rather than struggling on her own:
“You ask, ‘How do I achieve what I want to achieve?’ If you don’t ask, you are always going to be seeking something your whole life.”
When Jerwin joined the inaugural class of the Student DREAMers Alliance (SDA) as a Senior, Judith hoped that Hispanic Alliance could fill the gap in resources and mentorship that she alone could not provide. Jerwin thrived in SDA’s unique leadership curriculum, surrounded by motivated peers, dedicated program staff, and a large web of allies in the world of education.. He is now in his third year at USC Upstate.
“Student Dreamers Alliance gave me a push on my path in furthering my education and my dream to become a business data analyst,” says Jerwin.
“I was so excited taking him to college. It was my happiest moment ever!” Judith beams.
After witnessing his brother’s experience, his younger brother Jeysner joined SDA Class 3, and graduated with multiple scholarship offers. He even followed his mom’s footsteps, attending our Financial Stability Team’s entrepreneur workshop seminar this Fall.
“I love it,” Judith exclaims, “because I want them to continue seeking help from professional people, and in turn, to help other people. Without your help, I don’t know that they would have achieved.”
Judith’s sons were the first siblings to complete SDA, and are the first in her extended family to attend college. With a supportive organization at her back, Judith can focus on teaching them character lessons – ones that closely mirror how Hispanic Alliance sees our role in the community.
“I taught them to love and support each other, and that all together, we will get ahead.”
As Hispanic Alliance Celebrates a Decade of Familia, we want to honor Judith’s family as a Hispanic Alliance family: one that is comfortable receiving and giving back in equal measure.
“Tengo una corazón de marshmallow*,” she admits smiling. “When I try to help others, I give everything of myself, because you never know where you are going to be. Try forgetting about yourself a bit,” she insists, “and turn your heart it into a ‘marshmallow heart!’”
When reflecting on the next ten years for her own sons, Judith states, “I want them to fulfill their dreams and you have been part of them fulfilling their dreams.”
We are cheering them on – almost as loudly as Judith.
*I have a heart of marshmallow.