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More than 3,500 Pima Community College students graduate

Posted at 10:29 PM, May 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-19 01:29:45-04

More than 3,500 Pima Community College students were awarded certificates and degrees at their 2017 graduation ceremony at the Tucson Convention Center. 150 of them graduated with a grade point average of 3.90 or higher.

Among the graduates was Omar Lopez. If you were to ask him if he ever thought he'd be dressed in a cap and gown, earning a degree -- his answer would have been no.

"I was just thinking to come to work," he said. "I never thought that after 20 years of living in this beautiful country that I was going to get to this point."

He took five years to finish school -- which was no small feat. He's 40 years old and moved to the United States from Mexico, knowing little to no English.

"I came here not knowing any English, nothing at all," Lopez said. "To get to this point, I'm very, very, very proud of myself."

He attributes a lot of his success to his wife, Fabiola Munoz. She works at Pima Community College and was able to help guide him through his schooling, while also providing him with support. Thursday evening, she was all smiles.

"Very proud of him because it's not easy," she said. "There's a lot of people that are born in the United States that speak perfect English, that have all the opportunities to attend school and get an education, and they don't take advantage of that."

The first in his family to get a degree, he hopes his children will follow suit. Cap on, decorated gown -- a look he wants to see his sons wear one day.

"I want them to see that everything is possible," he said. "They were born here as well, but this is for them."

From the looks and sounds of it -- they will. One of his sons in attendance, smiling and proud of his dad.

"In college, I want to be a science teacher," his son Sergio said.