BELLE GLADE, Fla. — Daniela Hernandez, 18, regularly works alongside her mom at their family business, Las Delicias in Belle Glade.
Hernandez’ mother, Rosalva Porras, immigrated to the United States at age 18.
“My mom came here from Mexico, she had me, she was a single mother so it was difficult for her and I know it, so I know I have to give the most that I can for her,” explained Hernandez.
Her mom recalled some of the early challenges for them both, like overcoming language barriers.
“My English improved a lot because I studied with her like I learned how to sound words and everything, how to read,” said Porras.
Fast forward to a few years ago and the opening of Las Delicias.
Things were going well for Hernandez until mysterious digestive issues sidelined her.
“I had even stopped working here for a time because of it. I'd be home or I'd be in the hospital,” said Hernandez.
On top of that she missed more than a month of her junior year of high school.
Hernandez said, “When I went back it was so many things that I was like, really overwhelmed but I was like, I know I can pull though.”
After proper medical treatment, trying to get back on track wasn't impossible, but it wasn't easy. It’s a time many students spend applying to colleges.
Porras said, “At one point I have to push her because she was a little depressed maybe, because she said mama 'I can't do it' and I said you have to try.”
After switching schools and navigating a pandemic, Hernandez finished her high school career at Everglades Preparatory Academy, many times juggling school and work.
“I've always been told, 'oh you're a good student, you're a straight A student,' but I never thought I was going to be best and brightest to be honest,” said Hernandez.
She is her graduating class' valedictorian.
Her mom couldn’t be more proud. “To see your kids being successful in something, it doesn't have a price, you know, it's a good thing,” said Porras.
Hernandez now has her eyes on her next chapter in higher education at Palm Beach State College.
“I plan to go for business administration with a minor in marketing and maybe later in the future hopefully being an immigration lawyer.”
She has big dreams and a big future ahead of her.