Caleb Perez Anguiano was born less than 12 hours lafter his mother norma Anquiano received her diploma from Aurora University Sunday, May 5, 2013. | Courtesy of Norma Anguiano
Updated: June 21, 2013 6:25AM
There’s no question Norma Anguiano labored awfully hard to earn that degree in Spanish from Aurora University earlier this month.
After graduating from high school in 2002, she got her associate’s degree from Waubonsee Community College. But then life got in the way and she had to put that dream of becoming a Spanish teacher on the back burner.
In 2010 Anguiano was finally able to enroll at AU and get things back on track. Her goal was now within her grasp. And nothing was going to keep her from walking across that stage May 5 to accept that diploma.
Not even her unborn baby who was equally determined to make his entrance in the world on Graduation Day.
About five days overdue, Anguiano remembers the first contractions — every 10 minutes and lasting 45 seconds — hitting her around 7 that morning.
“I can handle it,” she told fiancé Jesus Perez, who knew how much walking across that stage meant to the mother to be.
Anguiano repeated that same mantra to concerned staff at AU’s graduation, including Suzanne McGary, special projects manager, who helped make the expectant mother as comfortable as possible. Anguiano’s last name already landed her a chair in the first row, at least. But officials decided those contractions were reason enough to move her even closer to the front of the line: She would be the second grad walking across the stage.
By 2:30 contractions were speeding up, hitting every four minutes in waves that lasted 45 seconds.
Paramedics were keeping a close eye on her, Anguiano said. “But I still felt I could handle it.”
That included the labor pain that hit as she began strolling across the stage.
“I just focused on breathing … and walking,” she said.
Spanish professor Denise Hatcher was one of many who saw that look of determination on her student’s face.
“Now that’s commitment to earning an AU degree,” she posted later on her Facebook page.
Anguiano made it to the other side and accepted her diploma with a smile that no doubt was bordering on a grimace.
“There was a lot going on,” she admitted.
With diploma in hand and contractions now speeding up, the couple decided it would not be a good idea to stick around any longer.
Anguiano’s water broke two hours later. Ten hours after that, Caleb Perez Anguiano came in to the world, weighing six pounds, 13 ounces.
“He’s a great baby,” says the proud new mama.
Looking back, Anguaino does not regret her decision to go ahead with graduation plans.
“I want Caleb to be able to look at pictures,” she said, “and see how badly his mother wanted this.”
Walking across that stage truly was a dream come true, Anguiano said, just as having that baby was.
“Thank God I was able to do both.”