The student body at the College of Southern Nevada is known for its many unique family combinations such as husband and wife, mother and daughter, and brother and sister. For the Filoteo family, it was mother Noemi, father Carlos Guillermo and son Alan.
"I was introduced to CSN by my mother in the winter of 2011 shortly after arriving home from an LDS mission in Chile," Alan said. "She took me to see the counselor. I filled out federal financial aid forms, took the placement test, and I'm now studying toward an Associate of Arts degree in animation. After graduating next year, I hope to transfer to BYU and obtain a Bachelor of Arts in animation focusing on 2-D and computer-generated animated cartoons. It's been very exciting and I'm thankful to my mother, but it's also been quite stressful."
While Alan was enrolling in five classes, his father was already enrolled in two classes at CSN and his mother in three. It created serious transportation stress.
"The hardest thing was to coordinate our schedules," Alan said. "We needed to know who would be in possession of the cars during the week as we each had jobs, either before or after school. It became important to be organized and to communicate with one another to make sure we knew what the other person was doing or where the other person had to be."
Throughout the time the family was on campus, they never shared any classes or professors together. However, they were able to meet for lunch where they would discuss - what else - transportation issues.
Alan, 21, was born in Las Vegas but attended high school in Mexico City. He is the youngest of six children with four older sisters and one older brother. And even though his mother received her Associate of Arts degree before he did, he is constantly talking about her.
"Many women are surprised when they hear my story and learn that my mom was on campus at the same time I was," he said. "And those in the same age range as my mother are encouraged by her and that motivates them."
His mother received her associate degree with an emphasis in art last year. She would like to get a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Spanish and become an ESL (English as a second language) teacher to help those like her who came to America as an adult not knowing the language.
"As immigrants from Mexico, the greatest barrier for me and my husband was the language," Noemi said. "We tried learning it while raising our children, but it wasn't easy. Once the kids got older and more independent, I returned to CSN in 2008 and it was wonderful. I was received as a daughter returning home as I had been a student there some 20 years earlier.
"After re-enrolling, I was invited to join Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society because of my previous good grades. It made me realize I was capable of not only finishing my courses in English, but to continue to obtain a degree. But in order to do so I needed to learn the computer and its language and I did that."
Noemi believes that education is the only way to improve one's life if you truly desire a better life.
"If we want to see society improve, education is the way," said Noemi, who is also a grandmother. "We should seek education at any age and that's why I chose to complete mine.
"At this moment, my children and grandchildren are my inspiration and motivation. If I want them to be educated, I need to set the example because children don't do what we say but what they see us doing."
Noemi said her final semester at CSN with her husband and youngest child was fun and crazy, all at the same time. She also remembers that none of it could have been possible without everything that CSN has to offer.
"CSN is an institution that opens doors to working people like me," she said. "The help I received from those in the computer lab and writing center was invaluable. And I can't say enough about the professors and counselors who were willing to go the extra mile for me and my family."