A 21-year-old California woman is going viral for the emotional graduation photos she took to honor her parents.
Jennifer Rocha, from Coachella, California, has been working in the fields with her parents, both immigrants from Michoacán, Mexico, since she was in high school.
"My dad decided to take me to work in the field when I was in junior year of high school," Rocha told TODAY Parents, adding that during that time she was also running on the cross-country team at school. "My dad would pick me up from cross-country practice at around 2, 3 p.m. and then come home, eat something, (and) change. And then we would go and plant strawberries overnight."
Rocha said she and her family would plant until around 2 or 3 in the morning.
"We would get off...then come home, shower, nap, and then wake up at 5:30 or 6 a.m. to get ready for school in order to take the city bus because I couldn't miss it."
When Rocha went to UC San Diego, she spent winter breaks back in the fields with her parents, Jose Juan and Angelica Maria. As graduation approached, the Sociology major knew she wanted to honor her roots in a special way.
“I wanted to go back to the field because that's what molded me as a person and that's what gave me the reason to pursue a higher education," Rocha explained. "My dad's lesson to the three of his girls was, 'hey, if you don't pursue higher education, this is where you're going to end up your whole life.'"
Rocha told TODAY that her parents have been field workers since they were ages 6 or 7 in Mexico, and often work in temperatures up to 117 degrees.
"My parents hustle, they would be up super early and then they would have to take us to daycare and stuff like with my grandma," Rocha said. "I wouldn't have a college degree if it wasn't for them and without their help financially and their support, I wouldn't have been able to do it.”
Rocha hopes her story inspires others.
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"For all the Latinos out there, just keep working hard and keep making your parents proud," she said. "And don't forget where you come from.”
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: