Father and Daughter Celebrating Commencement 2024 Together

May 7, 2024
Guillermo and Yesenia Meraz in University of Arizona Graduation Gowns

8,000 students will be celebrating commencement next week. Among them are one father and daughter duo we decided to spotlight during this exciting time of year. Guillermo  “Memo” Meraz is the Website Content Manager for UITS has been dedicating time to his work while attending classes in Eller College of Management. As a husband and father of two, Memo is proud to share his graduation experience with his daughter, Yesenia, who will be graduating with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photo, Video & Imaging.

As a first-generation Mexican American student whose parents immigrated from Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, Memo grew up with little hope of attending college, as it was a dream few Southside Tucson families were able to afford. He remembers his father’s words that nearly destroyed his dreams of going to school, “Do not to spend much time dreaming of attending school and becoming a professional, those dreams are only for the rich,” something his family was not. 

But he kept dreaming.

Not knowing of the difficult journey such a dream entailed, he did what “most other Mexican American students do when presented with such a grim realization, we dig in and work. We always try to build the best life possible with the set of circumstances we have been dealt.” And he did. 

Memo’s wife Theresa is a proud member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. They have two children, Guillermo and Yesenia. Theresa pursued a career with Casino del Sol and is currently the Entertainment Manager at the AVA Amphitheater. Her career offered the family financial stability that allowed Memo to seek a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus on marketing while the children were youngsters aged 8 and 10 years respectively. Also working a fulltime job, Memo recalls, “the kids remember the long nights I spent studying and attending school. Though they mostly remember the moment I walked across the stage and received my diploma.” He didn’t know it at the time, but that fateful walk planted the educational aspiration in both children that has since driven them to pursue their higher education goals. 

Memo's son, Guillermo, recently earned an Associate degree in Digital Arts from Pima Community College and Yesenia will now follow in his footsteps this May with her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. Yesenia graduated from Sunnyside High School in 2020, missing her senior prom and that triumphant walk across the graduation stage with her class. Due to COVID, the end of her senior year was not the celebration most students look forward to for many years. She didn’t let the pandemic sidetrack her dream, however, and started her freshman year at the University of Arizona in August 2020. Four years later, she is the first to graduate from a university from her mother’s side of the family. 

As a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, she and her older brother are an excellent example of the achievements and benefits of educational programs the tribe has set out for them to accomplish. Through the combined efforts of people, programs, and resources, they have achieved success in their college and career goals. The family is thankful for being able to meet the financial burden of college for the children with the help of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.

Memo has taken advantage of the university’s Qualified Tuition Reduction (QTR) benefit to meet the financial demands of his degree program. On May 10, he will receive his Master’s in Entrepreneurship and Yesenia will receive her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts (Photography) as they celebrate Commencement together with the rest of their family. 



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