From Stanford Groundskeeper to Stanford Dad: This Grad Story Will Warm Your Heart

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In more heartwarming graduation season news, NPR’s Morning Edition gave us a peek into the life of a son who fulfilled his immigrant dad’s dream. As a child in the 1990s, Frankie Preciado visited his father, Francisco, at Stanford University, where he worked as a groundskeeper. Mexican-born Francisco came to California as a child, and he gave up his own teaching aspirations to support his family. But he wanted more for Frankie, and this stuck with the young boy.

“I told you that one day, you were going to go here to Stanford,” Francisco said. “Then, you told us that had been accepted, [but you said], ‘Financially, Dad, I don’t know if I can go because I don’t have the money.’”

Like many other parents, Francisco just made it work. “Your mom and I will do whatever needs to be done.” And that’s how the two Preciado men ended up at Stanford simultaneously. Now, if this were a cheesy teen movie, Frankie would hide that his father worked for the school’s service staff. Instead, Frankie knew his dad’s schedule placed him at the fountains on Mondays and Wednesdays, so he stopped by to keep him company. It became part of both of their routines.

Frankie with his mother, Margarita, and father, Francisco, at his graduation from Stanford in 2007.
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In 2007, Frankie handed his dad his diploma. “I still joke – because we have the diploma at home on the wall – and I go, ‘No, you can’t take that with you,” Francisco said. “‘You told me that was mine, I’m keeping it.’” While at a school, Francisco kept an eye on his son, but the roles have reversed. Frankie now works as the executive director of the union that reps the school’s service and technical workers. So the skills he learned in school now serve to make sure his dad is always treated fairly.

Visit NPR if you prefer to hear the father and son tell their story in their own words. I won’t even be mad.