When they graduated from La Joya High School in May, Jesus was honored as valedictorian while Julian took the title of salutatorian. High honors for brothers who grew up in a primarily Spanish-speaking household. Now the two will share another recognition as they have been named Exemplary Migrant Students through the Texas Migrant Interstate Program.
The brothers will receive their award on Nov. 22.
The brothers are proud to call La Joya their hometown. Both brothers remember always having family close by and leaning on each other when troubles arose.
“It's a small border town, but it's full of culture and tremendous spirit,” Jesus Gonzalez said. “I was never alone due to the fact that I was the youngest of six siblings, and my relatives lived in the same town as us.”
Jesus Gonzalez is studying at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Julian Gonzalez is working on his degree at the University of Texas at Austin. Both are studying mechanical engineering.
Rosa Gonzalez Vela, sister to the twins, is an assistant principal at Jose de Escandon Elementary. Vela said her family is extremely proud of her youngest siblings, and from the start they all had a humble childhood and learned to work hard for success.
“It’s been really emotional, but we are beyond blessed,” Vela said. “With my mom and dad not speaking English, Spanish was what was spoken in our home. It was tough in school, but our parents worked so hard … that’s all we know, is working hard.”
With such a close-knit family of eight members (Five sons, one daughter) Vela said it was rough seeing the two babies leave for college. She added her mother cried tears of joy and sadness at the airport when Jesus left, but noticed his twin brother seemed to be in disbelief.
Vela said not only was her mother losing her two youngest sons, but the twins would be separated for the first time.
“We were born together, lived together and grew up together,” Julian Gonzalez said. “We had never been separated from each other for more than a few days until attending college. No matter what, he is still my twin brother even if our universities are separated by several states.”
Both brothers attribute their success to their families, teachers and counselors. But Julian Gonzalez said he found his love and want for education, through his sister.
“At a young age, I was fortunate to realize the importance of an education because of my sister’s struggle,” Julian Gonzalez said. “She put herself through college by working more than one job, while being a full-time single mother. I knew if I wanted to better my future and help those around me, I had to fight for what my sister, Rosa Gonzalez, constantly fought for: a college education.”
Jesus Gonzalez said life is sometimes difficult but never impossible.
“I believe it's easier to stay focused and motivated when you have someone in mind that you want to be successful for,” Jesus Gonzalez said. “To me, those people are my family and friends. I want to be successful not for myself, but for them, which is what's helped me stay motivated.”
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.