Seven family members make history, graduate Kissimmee college together

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A family of of seven from Kissimmee is making history.

Yaneiry Montes, her mother and father, cousins, aunts, and siblings will graduate hand in hand from Florida Technical College on June 13. 

"This is the first time we've had a family this large graduate together," said Gabriel Garces, executive director at Florida Technical College's Kissimmee Campus. "It's really exciting to see this."

Montes, 20, is majoring in culinary arts. But when she applied for school along with her mother and sister, she never expected the three of them would be sharing classes with her aunts, father and cousin.

Once they all realized they would be attending the same school, they made a pact to stick it out together.

Before it happened, the family hardly saw each other.

"There was a point in time when we really didn't talk for a few months," Montes said.

Being in school actually brought them closer together, changing them from a family that spoke once in a while to a family that always saw each other and were always together. 

Their educational journey didn't come without a few challenges. At one point, the family patriarch Davie Albarran, who was studying culinary arts, felt like quitting because of the high level of stress.

The entire family rallied behind him.

"We told him 'Don't give up, you're almost done!' and pushed him to keep going," Montes said.  

The family became a big support system.

"We had each other's backs throughout this journey," said Neysa Lebron, Montes's cousin. "We motivated each other when we were close to giving up and pushed each other to graduate."

They would turn any award or high score on a test into a celebration to stay motivated through tough times. The family's hard work and dedication eventually paid off.

Every single member is graduating with honors with a GPA of 3.0 and above. Montes is graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA.

The college's executive director Garces says this accomplishment will make a huge impact on the family's lives.

"In today's day and age it is very important to have a college education. It is a must," Garces said.

He believes that students like Montes and her family were able to stay motivated thanks to the types of programs offered at FTC.

"A lot of them are looking to switch to careers that they are passionate about, some even want to start a business," Garces said.

Montes and her family are all graduating with a wide range of majors, from cosmetology to medical assisting.

Cousin Lebron hopes to open her own salon and Sonia Perez, Montes's mother, plans on becoming a certified phelbotomist.

"Working, going to school and having a family is not easy, but it's all worth it in the end," Montes said.