Meet the Prates : A Family That Studies Together, Succeeds Together.
For many 20-somethings, college is their first opportunity to experience independence, but Victórya dos Reis Prates runs into her parents on campus often. That’s because the 22-year-old nursing student attends the same college as her mother and father.
“Everyone behaves well, avoiding embarrassing situations,” Victórya joked. “But it is very normal for me since we have always been together everywhere. Even though a lot of people find it different, they admire us and congratulate our togetherness in this environment.”
Luís Carlos Siqueira Prates, 57, and Reginara dos Reis Prates, 54, had already given up on their dreams of pursuing degrees when they got married and had children. That was until Victórya, their youngest of three, dropped out of high school. Luís Carlos then embarked on a mission to motivate his daughter to go back to school.
“Everything started with our desire to help Victórya rejoin her studies,” Luís Carlos said.
“When my father decided to go back to get his high school equivalency certificate, I could see he was doing it to encourage me to do the same,” Victórya said. Motivated by her father’s example, she decided to study for the certificate and the two received them together.
But their pursuit of education didn’t stop there. “The dream became bigger and stronger, and now we are pursuing higher education together!” Luís Carlos said. Not only did Victórya and her dad enroll at Centro Universitário FADERGS, her mother decided to take on the challenge too.
“She [Victórya] was not thrilled at the beginning of her studies, and we decided to take an entrance examination to give her the support she needed,” Reginara said. “It then came to us: we could use our daughter’s pursuit of higher education as motivation to start over.”
Like their daughter, the Prateses chose to pursue studies in health sciences at FADERGS, in Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. Luís Carlos, who studies physiotherapy, would like to work in a hospital and provide home care, and Reginara is chasing her childhood dream of becoming a psychologist.
“When I was younger, I didn’t even think I could pass the admission examination. I didn’t even know what it was like, but I had it in my head that I could never do it,” said Reginara. “This is a dream come true for me. I will be able to work as a psychologist until I’m quite old, because as you get older, you become even more experienced.”
The Prateses said their pursuit of higher education is challenging at times. Juggling work and school is possible only because of the incredible amount of support they receive from each other and the FADERGS community.
“Besides helping us with academic knowledge and easing our entry to higher education, faculty and staff have always given us a lot of care and attention,” Reginara said.
And Victórya said that while it has become her new normal to study alongside her parents, she does face one challenge. “I find it difficult to try to skip class,” she joked.
The trio said they hope to inspire other families to pursue higher education and to have an impact on their community. “We imagine each one of us, in our own way, will acquire the knowledge to have a solid profession that can be useful for society in Brazil or even elsewhere,” Luis Carlos said, “We want to make our career and let life lead us as well.”