Ambitious graduate and mother of 3-to-be juggles family, studies

Maria Cancino

Briar Cliff senior Maria Cancino, 22, is expecting her third child in June. Cancino will graduate with honors on May 17. Photo by Dawn Sagert, Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — When Briar Cliff University senior Maria Cancino walks across the Orpheum Theatre stage May 17, her entire family will be there to support her.

This includes her 4-year-old daughter Valeria, who wants to see her mom "congratulating."

"That's what Valeria calls it," Cancino said with a laugh. "Her mom will soon be 'congratulating' from college."

2014 Commencement


WHAT: 83rd Commencement Ceremony
WHEN: 10 a.m., Saturday, May 17
WHERE: Sioux City Orpheum Theatre
(Live video streaming will be available on this website)

Cancino, 22, will receive her bachelor's degree in social work, with a minor in psychology, at the Briar Cliff commencement ceremony.

It's quite an accomplishment that Cancino, a Sioux City native, has made it this far.

She married her husband Juan Cancino while she was still a student at East High School and gave birth to Valeria. In addition, the couple's 2-year-old son Juan was born while Cancino was a full-time Briar Cliff student.

Now, Cancino is expecting her third child, a boy, in June.

Despite the challenges of raising a family while pursuing her degree, Cancino made the Dean's List for the majority of her college career. In doing so, she earned the respect of Heather Craig-Oldsen, the chair of Briar Cliff's social work department, who called Cancino "a remarkable student."

“My parents didn't speak English. I was expected to go to school and learn the language for them.”

— Maria Cancino ('14), social work student

A first-generation American, Cancino learned about responsibility when she served as a translator for her parents, Maria and Rogerio Cancino, who came from Michoacan, Mexico.

"My parents didn't speak English when they came to this country," she said. "I was always expected to go to school and learn the language for them."

Indeed, Cancino's parents always stressed the importance of education to their already studious daughter.

"I'll be the first person in my family to go to college," she said. "That's what my mom and dad always wanted for me."

Identifying with issues facing children, Cancino said she wants to become a social worker for kids.

"I grew up fast because my parents needed me to speak for them," she said. "I'm sure there are many kids who grew up just like I did. I want to be a voice for them."

Read the entire Sioux City Journal article »


Tags: Alumni, Academics, Social Work, Admissions, Graduation, BCU, Local Media