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Dancing toward…

Mother and son will graduate at same time

Dancing toward graduation

It’s not every student’s dream to be going to college with his mom, but for Rafael Angarita it doesn’t seem to be a burden. The Biology/Pre-Med major,  and his mother, Carmen Sanjuan are students at San Antonio College and both are set to graduate in May. 

The mother/son duo said they could go the entire day without running into each other at SAC (unless they have lunch together). They did take one evening class together in the fall semester. At Carmen’s urging, they signed up to take Ballroom Dancing 1.  It was eight women and four men and the instructor urged the men to dance with every woman. Rafael said he liked the tango and the merengue the best, while Carmen especially enjoyed the waltz and swing dancing. 

Carmen and Rafael moved to San Antonio from Bogota, Colombia in 2000. She enrolled at UTSA and began taking English classes. Carmen has an architecture degree from Universidad de La Salle in Bogota, and earned an associate’s in graphic design from SAC.  She is  completing an associate degree in education and a degree in photography.  

“I want to work with people who speak Spanish – to help them,” she says, explaining   problems adjusting to the culture. Carmen currently works as a framer.  

Rafael, 20, hopes to be a neurosurgeon, get a doctorate in cancer research and also work to improve prosthetic limbs.  After SAC he plans to attend UTSA and  eventually medical school in California.     

A graduate of Madison High School, Rafael was accepted to both UT-Austin and Baylor but did not have the  necessary funds to attend. 

 During his time at SAC Rafael has been in seven clubs – including the Mexican American Engineers & Scientist (MAES), the Glee Club, Society of Physics Students (SPS), and Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA).   He has also received scholarships including the McAllister Society Scholarship, T-STEM   and San Antonio Educational Partnership Scholarships.   

Both mother and son have also volunteered with the Volunteer Service Learning programs to help the community – cleaning the Texas coastline and working with residents to clear burned lands near Bastrop. Rafael also lent a hand to work with Habitat for Humanity.  Carmen_Rafael 

“SAC has a ridiculous amount of opportunities – take advantage of them,” Rafael said, adding his only complaint is that a lot of fun Student Life Activities are held on Wednesdays – his busiest day for classes, lectures and labs.

Rafael admits that navigating the puzzle that is financial aid has been difficult.  He currently has an international visa but hopes to become a U.S. citizen before graduating from medical school.

“I love SAC – SAC is the best place. I love the people, the teachers,” Carmen says.  

She says there are vast differences between her educational experience in Bogota and here.   A university education in Colombia was primarily for the wealthy, and electives had to be within your major. 

“(Here) you can afford to go to class, to be the important person you want to be,” she said.


Photo: Carmen Sanjuan and her son Rafael Angarita attend SAC and will graduate in May.   




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