Days start early in the Torres home. Crystal, Larry and their three sons are up by 6:30. An hour later they’re ready to head out the door. The two oldest sons go to school, the third gets dropped off at daycare, then Crystal and Larry begin the hour-long commute from Oneida to OCC. “The mornings are a rush but once we get here it’s so smooth being on campus,” said Larry. “We have everything we need whether it’s a computer to work on or we need to meet with a professor.”
Larry is a 33-year-old Computer Information Systems major. His wife Crystal is 34 and majoring in Hospitality Management. They married 13 years ago, went to work and started a family. Continuing their education beyond high school was never a consideration. “We always thought college was for rich people. We always thought college was for really smart people. We just didn’t know otherwise,” said Larry. “When I was a kid we were told you just had to graduate from high school and that was it. You didn’t have to do anything after high school,” said Crystal. “We want to teach our kids how important education is.”
Larry is a member of the Onondaga Nation, Crystal and their sons are Oneida Nation members. Larry worked for both Indian Nations over the course of ten years before moving into the service sector where Crystal was also employed. Eventually they convinced each other there was more out there for them. “We decided as a team we were going to come to college together,” said Larry. “I wanted to learn more. I wanted more experience. We believed we could go to school and do this,” added Crystal. They began taking classes at OCC in the spring 2017 semester.
Larry’s plan is to work for the Onondaga Nation as a web developer and create databases for them. He previously spent 8 years there working as a computer systems analyst but wanted to achieve credentials higher than the GED he earned in 2008. Crystal’s dream is to open a bakery. She made her first three-tiered wedding cake earlier this year and is the go-to baker for friends and family.
Raising a family and being full-time students is a challenge but both say their support for each other will help them succeed. “There are a lot of days where I feel like I can’t do this, but then we talk and the kids bring up something about the bakery and I know we have to push through,” said Crystal.