"Despite all challenges, you can do whatever you want."
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Erik Bustamante joins his father Edwin Bustamante during IRSC's Associate of Arts Degree Ceremony
Credit: ©2022 Courtesy of Indian River State College

Last month, 17-year-old Erik Bustamante received his associate's degree in arts and marketing from Indian River State College (IRSC) in Fort Pierce, Florida. But his young age wasn't the only thing special about that day. Erik received his degree alongside his 53-year-old father, Edwin.

"I have the pleasure of graduating with my dad," Erik said in a statement. "Working and studying for tests together was mutually beneficial, and he inspired me to get all A's by watching him do so well in his classes at his age."

Erik began taking college-level classes at IRSC during his sophomore year in high school. He was inspired by his parents, who moved to the U.S. as teenagers and juggled multiple jobs to build a bright future for their family.

Edwin told WYFF4 that he had a successful career until about 10 years ago when he suffered two life-changing strokes.

"It's either for me to move on and do something beneficial with my life or stay home bored and depressed," he told the local news station. Instead, he got a college degree in horticulture and landscape technology.

"It was kind of like a competition just to see who could get the higher grade," Erik told WYFF4. "The first time I had a better grade than him, I felt like I finally beat the man."

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The next step for the teen is continuing his education at Florida State University and pursuing his passion for fashion industry marketing. Edwin plans to stay at IRSC and earn a bachelor's degree in organizational management.

"It inspires me to do just as good as he did," Erik said. "Despite all challenges, you can do whatever you want."

Congrats you two!