February 05, 2018 07:46 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- It’s that time again when we highlight a Rochester Community and Technical college student who received a beat the odds scholarship for overcoming hardships in life.
Freydi De La Cruz has endured many obstacles in his life, but he says it's the people in his life who have kept him strong and positive through all of it.
Lucky is how the father of five considers himself, but that wasn't always the case.
He was born in Mexico City to a single mother.
"We were in a small room. Like a four meter. We were sleeping in the floor just with a cardboard and with a little blanket and that was just us, covering us. And mom was not and since that day, that's when I started thinking of my mom as my hero,” said Freydi.
But when his hero lost her job, she ended up depending on Freydi, just a teenager at the time, to provide for the family, “my mom says like I don't know what we're gonna do. I don't have any money to pay for the rent. I’m sorry but you're probably gonna have to help us more and you might have to get out of school."
So that’s when Freydi quit high school for a few years until his mother could get another job.
"We got to a point that we were more stable and my mom goes you know what you should go back to school. You were always good, really good about school and I go you know what I should," added Freydi.
At that time, Freydi went back to school for about a year until his mother lost her job again, "that was just the breaking point of like what am I gonna do."
It was at that breaking point Freydi was thrown a life line.
His cousin who lived in Rochester, Minnesota, made the 19 year old an offer he couldn't refuse.
"She goes why don't you just come to the states? Why don't you just do the American dream? And it was like I don't have any other options. My mom doesn't have any work. I'm not working. I'm not in school right now. My two younger siblings need something and we need to pay for the rent," said Freydi.
So Freydi took a leap of faith and crossed the border illegally.
His wife Liz De La Cruz says she's not surprised, "very determined, always reaching goals. Always pushing himself."
But Freydi says crossing the border didn't come cheap, "We got jumped by cholos, you know like what is that called? Gangsters like Mexican gangsters and they took all the stuff that we had. The only thing that I had left is just the clothes that I was wearing and stuff. But I was scared cause one of the guys was with a knife in my back like hey give me everything you have."
Once in the U.S. Freydi eventually landed a job at a local restaurant and it was there he met his wife Liz and her father Martin Williams.
Martin says he still remembers when they first met, "they met at olive garden, and he took a fancy to her and very gentlemanly attitude about him."
"My fear of meeting another person in my life was that no one would want a single mom with three children. But it was the opposite for him. He came in knowing that being a single parent is hard and he had upmost respect for me," added Liz.
Martin says the couple wed a few years later and added two more children to their family, "The emotional support that Freydi gives the entire family is rock solid you know. It stabilized the family. Not without its bumps and whistles with teenagers."
Soon after, they decided it was time Freydi make his status in the U.S. permanent.
"Between paying the lawyer, getting the fees for immigration, and all the households and the bills at home, we got into a huge debt, a huge debt," said Freydi.
Liz says the father of five was sent back to Mexico for about six months until his paperwork cleared, "we went through struggles, definitely. It's a time Fredyi credits his wife for keeping the family above water. It’s funny he contributes it to me but I always tell him it's a team effort. We did this together."
"Last July, I became a citizen of the united states. It was a long journey. It was something that I thought I would never do it when I came to the states,” added Fredyi.
But Liz says the journey didn't stop there, "there wasn't a purpose to, to his job. To make a difference. He wanted to make a difference in people's lives. So in 2016 is when he decided to get his GED and then that way he could move forward so that he could start school last year."
He's now attending RCTC with aspirations of working in the medical field.
And this past December Freydi says he had the chance to go back to Mexico and visit with his family, "six years ago last time I see them. But right now they are doing pretty good. I want to say things are turning a completely different way."
Reason enough, in Freydi's words, to call 2017 a great year all around.
"You go through trials and tribulations and they're tough but it makes you stronger, and it's made the both of them stronger as well as their family as a whole stronger, said Martin.
"Every trial that we've gone through it feels it was all for a purpose and to get to be where we are now,” added Liz.
And Freydi says he will keep on trucking, never forgetting his hero that set his first example, "my mom always told me, it's like you, the opportunities just present to yourself once in a lifetime. If you don't take it, somebody else is gonna take it."
Freydi is currently enrolled in his fourth semester in school.
Created: February 05, 2018 07:46 PM
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