Hold your tears as you read this graduation story…

Today is Mother’s Day and it is also the day of graduation at the University of Houston. The graduation ceremonies scheduled for Friday (May 10) were postponed due to floods and were rescheduled for today (May 12). While I get many notes from graduates, this one came from a father as he recalled his son’w journey. I share it with you in his own words (you are not allowed to cry until the very end).

“[Today] our son, Miguel Andres Marin (a.k.a. Michael), will graduate from the Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.  Like many students, Michael has and is a special story to tell and hopefully you will concur with me.

On June 4, 1993, my wife and I went to a pregnancy check visit that changed our lives.  Our doctor discovered that Michael had not been growing and that at almost 26 weeks he was the size of a 24-week baby.  We were rushed to the hospital just to find out that Michael was under stress and struggling to survive inside the womb.  The diagnosis was Intrauterine Growth Retardation (IUGR) and they calculated he was about one (1) pound and about 11 inches in size.  Given his size, the doctors suggested that my wife and I should go home and come back couple days later and have a still birth.

The doctors insisted on sending us home because they were worried about Michael not having a good quality of life.  They said that if he survived, he would be a vegetable for the duration of his natural life.  At the time, we were told that anything under 1 lb. would not even be considered a baby and we shouldn’t feel bad for going home.  Of course, we could only think about how hard he was fighting to survive.  Decision time came around 6:30 PM and, after seen his heart struggling inside, my wife and I asked the doctors to deliver the baby.  At 7:19 PM, Miguel Andres Marin was born measuring 11 in long and weighing 1.2 lbs.  Michael became the third smallest baby to be born at Texas Children’s Hospital.  We were told that he would survive for a few hours and how wrong they were.  Michael kept proving to all doctors and to us that he was here to stay, and he was going to do it against all odds. IMG_3510

His struggles inside the womb were his strength in the outside world.  His lungs developed fine and his oxygenation levels were excellent.  This was extremely important because the more oxygen a tiny baby gets via a breathing device, the higher the chance that the optical nerves would break and cause blindness.  On that faithful Friday, Michael became the smallest baby boy to survive at Texas Children’s (the previous two survivors were girls).  But the early success milestones we experienced were full of hurdles… in the first week, he developed a brain hemorrhage that is the likely reason why he has some learning disabilities.  Soon after, he needed a clip placed in his heart to close a valve after and other procedures to correct issues that will follow him for the rest of his life. We can only attribute Michael’s slow physical development to his premature birth.  He is not as tall as he could’ve been and his weight is lower than it should be. 

Michael graduated from Briarwood with a High School diploma and was accepted at the University of Houston – Downtown where he majored in general business.  Because of his learning disability, he couldn’t hold a full-time course load and he registered on a maximum of 9 semester hours.  After he completed his basic requirements, he transferred to the Hilton College and continued his studies where he could work on his strengths: helping people and being customer service oriented.IMG_0355 (2) (1)

I can’t say enough of the faculty at the Hilton College and the hotel (where he was an intern for about a year).  They recognized that Michael was different, and they helped him be “one of the students”.  Through his college career at UH, Michael learned the skills that will make a difference in his life.  He may never become a hotel president or a manager, but he will be the best hospitality person he can be.  UH believed in him like we did 26 years earlier.

May 10, 2019, marks the end of Michael’s student life and the beginning of his professional life.  At almost 26 years of age, Michael has conquered goals many believed were impossible to accomplish.  A day earlier, on May 9, his little sister, Diana, is also graduating from the Cullen College of Engineering with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  She was the first female president of the ASME UH Chapter in more than 40 years.  Having both finishing school together is very special but it is not the end of the story.  The youngest of the family will be graduating in 2020.

Every student has a story and every story builds the fabric of our Cougar house.  Certainly, UH’s fabric is intertwined with our family’s and we are grateful for the support we have received from every single faculty and staff member.

Forever Cougar

Antonio Marin (Mother: Carmen Marin)”

I have no words to add.

Congratulations, Michael, and congratulations to Antonio and Carmen. Michael–you are an inspiration! Go, chase after your dreams!!



5 thoughts on “Hold your tears as you read this graduation story…

  1. This brings me full of tears of Joy! We are definitely Blessed in every way. We are eternally grateful to everyone who has been a part of Michael’s success. It truly takes a village and the University of Houston has been a huge part in his and our family’s life. GO COOGS!!! XOXO

  2. Didn’t make it to the end of your blog post. Proud of my university and the way it takes the challenges we present and makes Coogs of us all.

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