As Moises Hernandez reaches for his diploma, his younger brother Saul is right behind him. Watching his back, as he always has.
"We were surrounded with a lot of gang activity in our neighborhoods, drugs and all that."
The Hernandez brothers did not give into temptations of the North Minneapolis streets. They graduated from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School together. Faced with challenges during his sophomore year, Moises was forced to go to public school.
"For academic reasons and when he struggled in public school he asked to return to Cristo Rey and he did so knowing he would have to repeat his junior year," college counselor Micki O'Flynn said.
"Cristo Rey really helps you stay away from that and focus more on education," Moises said.
Saul hung in there, and Moises, realizing what he'd lost after leaving, came back strong.
"He's persistent, he never quit when the going got tough, not only that he's been accepted to four universities," O'Flynn said.
The brothers will attend St. Mary's University together in Winona, Minn. as roommates.
"They'll protect each other. Their proud parents trust the two will protect and support one another," the boys' father said.
Saul is even going the extra mile. He's already earned a full scholarship to St. Mary's. Since his finances are covered, he will work to help pay Moises' tuition.
"Yo me siento muy emocionada," mom Maria says, which means, "I am so excited."
In a commendable move, Mom and Dad even plan to move in with their parents to pay for the expense.
"We have to work hard to give them what they need and always be united so they don't ever go without," Mom says.
As first-generation college students, their counselor shares in the brothers' joy.
"I am so proud and so grateful to be a witness and have a ringside seat to their success. I feel like a madrina, a godmother."
"Alcanzar exito en este pais es tan bonito," Dad says: Tto succeed in this country is such a beautiful thing."
The Hernandez family serves as a testament to the power of dedication coupled with the true spirit of family.
"We are all brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers to one another."