A. Garcia / SFVS

Noemi and Martha Valdez

Happiness and sadness.

That’s the mix of feelings Martha Valdez is experiencing these days, only weeks before she and her daughters, Noemi and Jacqueline, head to the East Coast for a four-day visit to Boston.

It’s not just a sightseeing trip. The single mother is accompanying her oldest daughter on a tour to the school the young woman will be attending starting this fall — Harvard University.

Getting into Harvard is due to Noemi’s hard work and academic excellence. The trip is thanks to the generosity of others.

A total of 72 people contributed to help the family take the trip and pay for accommodations. In all, the Go Fund Me page some teachers opened for Noemi received $4,205 in eight days — including a single donation of $500 —  surpassing the $4,000 goal.

Noemi, who graduated with honors from San Fernando High School, explained on the page how she had been accepted at Harvard, but that it was nearly impossible for her mother and younger sister to accompany her there due to their economic situation.

That $4,000 figure is equal to a monthly salary for Martha, who works in cleaning at Pacifica Hospital in Sun Valley.

“I’m so happy. I want to go there to see where my daughter is going to be, to know she’s safe where she’ll be,” Martha said. “I feel so, so proud.”

And “thankful to all the people with a generous heart who, without knowing us, contributed, so we can go over there,” said the single mother.

Hard Work And Positive Thinking

This trip would not have been possible without hard work and positive thinking. It’s the secret to the success Noemi is enjoying, something she now shares with her mother and her younger sister, a trio that has faced adversity and come through with flying colors.

“From a very young age you have to give them positive words, not negative ones. That influences children a lot,” says Martha, 41, who couldn’t be more proud of her oldest daughter.

She has reason to be.

Noemi, 18, a Project GRAD and YPI student — organizations that help students in the process of getting to college — is heading to Harvard on a full scholarship. That was unthinkable when she and her mother first came to the United States nine years ago from Mexicali, Mexico. Martha was born in Colima, Mexico, but moved to the Mexican border city later on.

After arriving on this side of the border, things were very difficult, they both admit.

“Without documents, without knowing English, without family, in a country that you don’t know, it was hard,” Martha said.

A stellar student in Mexico, Noemi found herself struggling after arriving in this country. Her lack of English prevented her from enjoying school as she once did.

“It was a hard process. When I understood the language, it broke a lot of barriers,” Noemi said.

Her grade point average at San Fernando High was 4.3, and now she’s on her way to one of the most exclusive colleges in the country, if not the world.

But while studies are Noemi’s strong suit, the credit to her success is not entirely hers.

The encouragement and sacrifice from her mother were also part of the equation.

All In A Day’s Work

The sacrifice started at 6 a.m,. every school day, when Martha woke up both her daughters and prepared their breakfast before taking them to school. Jacqueline, 13, goes to Pacoima Middle School.

Martha also attends school, studying English at the North Valley Occupational Center in Mission Hills for the past three semesters.

Then it was back to the house to leave dinner ready for her daughters, who took the bus home every afternoon as their mother headed to work.

Martha said Noemi and Jacqueline were “very responsible. They were never on the streets. I knew they were safe at home.”

But Martha still wanted to go to Boston and see for herself the place her daughter will call home starting August 25.

“I feel happy and sad. We’ve never been separated and now we’re not going to see each other for several months. It’s a sacrifice that’s worth it because it’s her future,” Martha said.

The family will spend the four-day trip on a tour of the school, sightseeing and enjoying each other’s company.

After that, Noemi will begin her studies in archeology and mathematics. She wants to become a university professor.

Her mother doesn’t doubt for one second her daughter will achieve her goal.

“Yes you can,” she says emphatically. “Nothing is impossible. You just have to make an effort.”

You can still contribute to the family’s Go Fund Me page by visiting http://www.gofundme.com/wb3sa2w.