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For graduation photos, student wears cleaning staff uniform to honor her mother


Courtesy of Roberta Mascena

Magnús Sannleikur - published on 04/14/21

Daughter pays tribute to her mom's love and support in best way possible!

The image traveled the world and brought tears of happiness.

During her college graduation photo session, Roberta Mascena (of Brazil) surprised everyone by opening her gown to proudly show off her mother’s work uniform.

“When we went to take the picture, I opened the gown and she saw the clothes. She started crying and hugged me. She didn’t say anything because I don’t think there are any words that can express any kind of feeling she had at that moment,” the young woman told the G1 news outlet.

Only a few people were able to be present at that emotional moment, because of the pandemic. Soon, though, the example of gratitude and recognition spread around the world through the internet.

Why the cleaning staff uniform?

There’s more than one reason why Roberta paid homage to her mother by wearing her uniform under her graduation gown. First, her mother, Marlene Cordeiro de Oliveira, helped pay for Roberta’s college education with her job on the cleaning staff of a building in the city where they live, Santos, in the state of São Paulo (Brazil). Her father, a taxi driver, also made a great effort to help pay Roberta’s tuition; in the end, G1 reports, Roberta’s hard work earned her a scholarship that helped her finish her studies.

That’s not the only reason why she wore her mother’s uniform, though. In fact, her mother Marlene’s life story has always been Roberta’s inspiration. She had to abandon her studies when she was just 13 years old; that was when she left home to work as a maid in family homes in the countryside of Pernambuco.

As an adult, Marlene moved to Santos, on the coast of the state of São Paulo. There, she met taxi driver Roberto Mascena de Lima, whom she married. When their children were in school, Marlene also went back to her studies and finished elementary school, with Roberta’s help.

Roberta says that wearing a cleaning staff uniform on one of the most special days of her life was the way she found to thank her parents for their efforts to pay for her college education. In addition, she wanted to show how proud she is of the dignified life her mother has built. “She’s an amazing person. She deserves more than a simple tribute. My mother’s story is a tough one, like that of millions of Brazilians who lived in this situation for a long time. Some were successful, and managed to get ahead, and others didn’t,” Roberta told G1.

Just the beginning

Having graduated with a degree in pedagogy in hand, Roberta Mascena is thinking of working with socially vulnerable children. She also doesn’t want to stop studying. The good news is that the university where Roberta graduated has offered her a scholarship so that she can study for a Master’s degree at the institution for free. She will study “Teaching Practices in Elementary Education.”

It’s good recognition for someone who knows how to be grateful for the greatest asset we have: our family!


Read more:
The unsung helpers that helped us keep the faith in 2020

EducationInspiring storiesMotherhood
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