For many students graduating this week, the news of an in-person commencement was a long-awaited victory after two semesters of virtual ceremonies. Having the ability to walk across a stage is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement.
For one social work student, Aida Guerrero, walking during commencement was more than a personal achievement but a tribute to her son, Diego, who passed away in a tragic ATV accident last year. Her son would have been walking across his own graduation stage this year, but now Aida will be walking for both of them.
Aida has always dreamt of helping others. She started her college career working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. After realizing she would need a PhD in order to fully practice as a psychologist she found herself faced with a common challenge for mothers, wanting to pursue her education but not wanting to be absent from her children’s lives.
Her sons were young and Aida was working a full-time job. She soon learned about the career of social work and it closely resembled the goals she was seeking. The transition to pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work seemed natural. She also declared a minor in Addiction Treatment Services.
“Diego and I were excited about the moment in which he would be promoted from 5th grade and I would graduate with my Bachelors in Social Work,” said Aida. “We had promised each other we would do it together and accomplish our graduations together.” Being a huge fan of the University of Nevada, Reno, Diego couldn’t wait for his mom to be part of the Wolfpack family and even planned on following in her footsteps.
Unfortunately, in August 2020, life turned upside for Aida when Diego was killed in a fatal ATV accident.
“I have always taught and encouraged my boys to seek after education and be proud of their academic achievements,” said Aida.
“I decided to continue my studies to commemorate and honor his memory and because he was so proud to know his mom would be graduating this spring.”
Aida also has a younger son, Mauricio, who is four years old. “My boys are everything to me and they are the reason why I seek to improve and grow. I want to give them a better life and better opportunities,” she explained.
“Losing my son is a nightmare I wish to wake up from every day. My life has forever changed. Each day I remind myself of our promise and I picture his little face glowing with excitement and joy as we get closer to graduation. His guidance from heaven is what has helped me continue my education and get closer to graduation. Our promise is what keeps me going."
Completing my BSW will bring me some comfort and I will be able to tell my son “We did it baby.”
Aida plans to use her degree to work with youth. She hopes to help provide youth with the resources they need to grow to be successful and thrive in society.
“I find comfort to know that I will be walking and my son will be able to see me walking. I strongly believe he had something to do with the in-person ceremony becoming a reality,” said Aida. “I believe he pulled some strings in heaven to help bring comfort and relief for us students to be able to commemorate all of our efforts, and tears through being able to walk in our commencement ceremony."