Imagine moving to another country where you don't know the language, and in just two years, you learn enough to be able to go to college. Sounds impossible. But it's happening more often every year, right here in East Texas.
Damarine Gutierrez moved to Tyler from Mexico just two years ago. "Two years ago, I didn't speak any English."
But, that didn't stop her from learning. She will graduate from John Tyler this spring and knows enough English, Math and Science to get into college next fall. "The rest of my family hasn't gone to college. I'm going to be the first one, and I'm the youngest one from my family. And, I feel proud of myself."
Juan Garcia is a classmate of Damarine at John Tyler. He too will be the first member of his family to go to college, thanks to a lot of support from his sister. "She gives me a lot of advice. She's like no don't. Finish. Don't quit. Go for college. Look what I'm going through right now. If you want to do better than me, go to college."
Damarine and Juan are part of a growing trend. The number of Hispanics heading to college has almost doubled in the last decade. And, in a recent survey, 65 percent of Hispanic parents say a college education is the most important thing their children can receive to get ahead. Only thirty five percent of the nation as a whole said the same thing.
ESL teacher, John Seiple sees the statistics first hand, one student at a time. "Because one of them will go to college, and little brother or little sister will see that, they'll go, 'Well, I want to be like big brother or big sister. They can do it, I want to do it too'"
"If you want it, you can do it," says Damarine. "It's all about you. If you want it, you can do it."