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Grad Story: Isabel and Gabriel Bugarin


In a heartwarming display of determination, perseverance, support, and love, a mother and son duo achieved a significant milestone by graduating together. Isabel and Gabriel Bugarin are walking today, both receiving associate degrees. Isabel’s began her journey at MSJC in 1999 but didn't last long. During the pandemic, access to online education motivated her to explore opportunities and she re-enrolled. “I’m glad we have online classes. With my family, I’m able to work on my schoolwork on my time and focus on kids without having the stress of going to class.”

Gabriel was a dual enrollment student taking classes at MSJC during his senior year at Paloma Valley High School. “I didn't know what I wanted to do, so after high school I chose to go to MSJC.” Having an interest in film and digital media he enrolled in a class taught by Alan Marsala, Creative Media Department Chair. “Through his experiences and teaching, it cemented what I wanted to do,” Gabriel said. “I want to follow in his footsteps.”

“We were halfway through our classes when I realized that both of us could finish at the same time,” Isabel said. “I told Gabriel, hey we could graduate together.”

“I think it’s cool since we’re graduating at the same time, that we can both say that we’re first-generation college students,” Gabriel said.

Their bond strengthened with each passing semester, bringing them closer to their shared goal, which has become a reality.

Isabel and Gabriel Bugarin