A Grandfather’s Love Drives USC Art Student to Success – USC News | Candle Made Easy

Dayanara Saucedo’s journey to a USC diploma began with a simple question: How was school?

The questioner was Saucedo’s grandfather, Eduardo Rodriguez.

“He asked that question many times, every day. That was my earliest memory of him,” Saucedo said. “He was really invested in my education. He wanted me to do more than he could.”

A young Dayanara Saucedo shares a moment with her grandfather Eduardo Rodriguez. (Photo/Courtesy of Dayanara Saucedo)

Higher education was important to the family patriarch. He dreamed of his granddaughter being the first in the family to attend college — but it was a dream that probably seemed out of reach.

Saucedo’s parents, Mayra and Marcos Saucedo, immigrated from Mexico, settled in Los Angeles and found jobs they could find selling baked goods and washing dishes. Eventually, the Saucedos earned enough money to rent a two-bedroom apartment in south Los Angeles, where they raised their two daughters, Dayanara and Yelena.

Her apartment was just a block from USC – close but worlds away for family and eldest daughter Dayanara, who aspired to attend college and be an artist.

“There weren’t a lot of opportunities to do something with art or visual arts at my school,” she said. “The school just didn’t have the funding for it: the programs were either cut back or didn’t exist.”

Then fate struck.

During her visit to the Foshay Learning Center, then 11-year-old Dayanara was spotted by a member of USC’s Leslie and William McMorrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI). The program helps bridge the gap between low-income, high-performing students and access to higher education.

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