Pursuing a master’s degree is challenging in and of itself, but what happens when you add a full-time job, two children, and a two-and-a-half hour commute? Ask the Padilla family. Abe and Monica Padilla both earned master’s degrees, despite obstacles that would’ve stymied others.
“People thought we were crazy, but failure is not an option in our family,” said Abram (Abe) Padilla. “The first thing to do is to develop a plan, assess what needs to be done and then prioritize your time. It might not always be easy or convenient, but there is a way.”
Abe and Monica Padilla met as undergraduates at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB). After getting married and starting a family, the two decided to pursue graduate school at LMU even though the university was 120 miles from their home in Bakersfield.
Monica chose LMU because they knew that their religious faith would not make them feel out of place in the university’s graduate program in English.
“We knew LMU was the place where God wanted us to be. What we didn’t know was how we were going to make it happen,” Monica said.
Two to three times a week, Abe would leave early from work to drive the family to LMU for Monica’s evening class. While Monica was in class, Abe would take their two sons, Logan and Aaron to fish in Marina Del Rey, eat at the LMU cafeteria or play pool or darts in the old Lion’s Den. After Monica received a master’s degree in English in 2002, it was Ade’s turn to pursue a master’s degree in business while Monica took care of driving and their sons. Abe finished almost all of his coursework with a 3.88 GPA in spring 2006 and was named to Beta Gamma Sigma, the international business honor society, and Alpha Sigma Nu, the National Jesuit Honor Society
“Those were the formative years of our marriage and our family. The experience gave us the opportunity to have long talks about the future of our children and each other,” Abe said. “It is a blessing to have a spouse who firmly believed in my goals and inspired me to do my best.”
At the time, some of the Padillas friends were concerned about how Logan and Aaron were being affected by the family’s demanding experience. But to the Padillas, their experiences have had an extremely positive impact on their sons. Both of their sons are straight “A” students. Logan recently completed junior high school and received an award as one of the most outstanding students in his class. He hopes to attend the University of Notre Dame someday, and Aaron has his heart set on Loyola Marymount University.
“What we thought might be detrimental to our sons turned out to be a blessing. Setting a goal and reaching it inspired them to do their best and work hard,” Monica said.
Currently Abe is the director of finance for Paramount Farms, Inc., a large company that grows and processes pistachios and almonds. Monica teaches at CSUB in the Department of English. She hopes to attend law school and specialize in immigration law.
“There is no such thing as impossible. You just need to want something bad enough, and find a way,” Abe said. “Work hard, and when you think you are about to give up, work harder.”