Photo: Muñoz Family (L-R): Alondra, Angel, Zenaida, Javier, Javier Sr., Abby (Javier's GF), Edgar, Victor
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - First generation college graduates are something to behold for any family. Having three siblings be the first to graduate in their family and do it together, at the same time, and at the same school is something really special.
That will be the case for men's soccer senior defender Javier Muñoz, as he will graduate from Sacramento State alongside his older brother Edgar and older sister Alondra. The trio will be the first in their family to earn college degrees this weekend and will do so in front of as many family members as they can get inside the Golden 1 Center.
"Since we were children (our parents) always emphasized 'school, school, school' and watching my older siblings take the next step to community college I wanted to be like them," Javier said. "I always admired (Edgar) for his hard work and dedication and for my parents it's been something unreal for it to happen at the same time. They expected all of us to graduate but they didn't have a time frame, and for all of us to conclude in one semester it's pretty remarkable for our family."
The children of migrant workers Javier and Zenaida Muñoz, Javier, Edgar, and Alondra are first generation college students. Edgar and Alondra were born in Michoacán, Mexico and the family moved to California in 1993, settling originally in Lodi. Javier was born two years later and the family moved to Galt, where Javier Sr. and Zenaida continue to work as laborers.
"Knowing that our parents didn't attain a college degree it was up to us to decide whether we wanted it or not," Alondra said. "For the rest of their lives they might have to work, and for us there's hope. Coming here and being able to support each other and understand what it takes to be a college student and what it takes to graduate, its been helpful to have us three together."
Javier came straight to Sacramento State out of high school and will graduate in four years while starring for the Hornet soccer team. Edgar, who is 25, and Alondra, age 24, paved the way for their younger brother after they began their collegiate education at Consumnes River College. Edgar and Javier started at Sacramento State together in the Fall of 2013 and Alondra followed a semester later.
As the eldest of the Muñoz children, Edgar, who has served as a student athletic trainer at Sacramento State, had to show his younger siblings that secondary education could be a reality in their lives.
"I'm the oldest in the family and kind of led the way showing them that if you work hard you can achieve great things," Edgar said, "It was kind of tough for me since I didn't have an older sibling or role model to look up to but I've been able to help them out if they needed anything. It's pretty cool that we're all going to graduate at the same time and it's making my mom and dad really happy."
Alondra, who works as a migrant education adviser at her former high school, will technically be the first in her family to graduate; As a sociology major she will receive her degree on Friday while Javier and Edgar, who are both kinesiology majors, will walk on Saturday. '"I'm glad she has her own day," says Javier. "She deserves it."
Edgar and Alondra, who is graduating with honors, had the grades to come straight to Sacramento State out of high school, but money was tight. They worked while going to school to make ends meet, but Javier was fortunate enough to get a soccer scholarship so he did not have that economic burden.
"I wanted to play soccer, that was my dream," Javier said. "I never knew coming to a university was something that was going to happen right away. When you get that scholarship offer when you are 15, 16 years old you don't how dramatic of an opportunity that makes.
"Most kids that I knew coming out of high school had no idea what they wanted to do. They don't know how financially they are going to be stable when they are there so that was a big relief, and to be able to do something I love while here, you can't ask for anything else."
Javier put together an outstanding Hornet career, starting on the back line for the majority of his four years. He was a team captain as a junior and senior and played in 71 career games, helping the Hornets advance to the Big West Tournament for the first two times in program history. The Hornets hosted and won their first Big West postseason game last fall in his senior season.
"My soccer experience has been nothing short of amazing," he said. "From the coaching staff to the faculty and the people behind the scenes the support from the school has been awesome. It has grown over the years and I'm proud of what we were able to do as a team the last few years and our future is bright."
It was extra special for him to have the support of his siblings on campus, while his parents as well as younger brothers Victor and Angel were able to make the short drive from Galt for most of his games.
"It's been a journey to see him grow as a player and see his ups and downs," Alondra said. "For him to take that leadership role, especially when he was captain, was pretty cool to see. To be here with him and Edgar has been a great experience."
This weekend is not the end for the Muñoz family in terms of their education and their time at Sacramento State. Javier is looking into a credential program or a Master's program and want to be a P.E. Teacher. He is getting his first coaching experience leading his former club, Sacramento United, and their U-11 team.
Alondra plans to continue at Sacramento State and get a Master's degree in school counseling. Their younger brother Victor, who is 17 and a senior in high school, also wants to attend Sacramento State.
Nine-year-old Angel, the youngest of the five Muñoz children, has a ways to go before he considers college, but based on the path his older siblings have blazed, there seems to be a good chance he may also be a Hornet one day.