Many couples have fond memories of walking down the aisle as newlyweds, beaming with pride and reveling in the milestone moment. But couple Luis and Wendy Castaneira recently shared a slightly different milestone moment – the pride of walking down the aisle at California State University, San Bernardino’s graduation as Phi Kappa Phi members.
In June the pair earned their bachelor’s degrees, both graduating cum laude and with university and departmental honors – Luis in criminal justice and Wendy in nursing. The first-generation college students and parents of four met their challenges head on over the years and supported each other on the way to the finish line.
“Our biggest challenges were managing finances and time to study. We would both get on our computers and complete our school work after the kids were in bed,” shared Wendy. The joint study efforts proved successful. “We have been able to help each other study and review each other’s essays. We also had our own ways of studying which helped giving advice back and forth.”
Wendy was excited to receive an invitation to join Phi Kappa Phi in 2017 and easily made the decision to join. Luis, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, was encouraged to follow her lead when his invitation arrived a year later. “My wife was excited for me to join a prestigious honor society with her. She explained the importance of joining Phi Kappa Phi and that it would be an honor to be labeled as a member,” he said.
As Wendy explained, “You work so hard to achieve greatness, you should be proud to be able to join those I consider elite. Let the world know you are more than just a student. Let them know you qualified and have become part of the nationwide honor society Phi Kappa Phi.”
The couple hopes to pass on their love of learning to their children. “We are constantly teaching our kids,” said Wendy. “Every day is a chance to learn something new. While in school we learned so much about the development of a child’s brain and how they perceive the world. It has helped us so much in understanding their developmental needs.”
When it comes to managing college as a parent, Wendy encourages others to take on the challenge. “Just get it done. It’s never going to get any easier and there will never be a ‘right time’ – just do it. Close your eyes and jump in. You will not regret the decision.”