Keydi Osorio

A light bulb went off in Keydi Osorio’s head when an adviser from Gateway Technical College said she could work toward an associate’s degree while still at Bradford High School.

Osorio graduated from Bradford High School in 2018, and is now graduating from Gateway with an associate’s degree in marketing.

She earned 18 credits at Gateway before leaving Bradford.

“I did not stop going to school,” Osorio said. “I just kept going.”

Osorio is the student speaker at today’s Gateway commencement ceremony. The ceremony starts at 7 p.m. and will be held at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s Sports & Activity Center — the DeSimone Gymnasium — on highways E and JR in Kenosha.

Osorio came to the United States in 2005 with her family from Honduras.

“In my country, snow is almost an imaginary thing,” Osorio said. “That was one of the coolest things when I moved here.”

Osorio said her parents stayed because they liked Kenosha and knew their children would get a good education.

When she started at Wilson Elementary in 2005, she did not speak English. Some teachers who also spoke Spanish helped her until she learned the language.

“I was really shy,” Osorio said. “I didn’t know what other people were saying. They were able to kind of make me comfortable. I was able to learn how to start reading ahead of my grade.”

Tragedy struck when Osorio’s mother was deported when Osorio was 13. Osorio’s mother spent nearly three years out of the country.

During that time, Osorio took on the duties of taking care of her younger siblings, in addition to going to high school and then both high school and college. Her mother is now back with the family.

Osorio is not a United States citizen, but said she aspires to be one. She is here through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — started in 2012 under President Barack Obama.

Osorio gets to stay in the United States as a result, but does not qualify for financial aid or other assistance at Gateway.

“What hurts the most is I have a great GPA (grade point average) and that means nothing if you’re not a U.S. citizen,” Osorio said. “I’m paying out of pocket. I don’t have any time or money to waste.”

During her time at Gateway, Osorio worked as a Gateway ambassador, and regularly gave speeches on behalf of the college. Her journey has led her from being a non-English speaking elementary school student to one who will now address her fellow students at the commencement.

Osorio currently works at the Kenosha branch of Educator’s Credit Union at 4215 Green Bay Road.

She also recently started a business — Championship Digital Media Agency — where she hopes to develop marketing plans and do social media engagement for other local businesses.

In addition to that, Osorio sings at her church — Amistad Cristiana in Waukegan, Ill. — and also mentors children through the church’s youth program.

Osorio plans to continue her education at UW-Parkside and major in marketing. She praises Gateway for being an inclusive institution.

“It’s the friendliness,” Osorio said. “I went in there at 17 and knew I was going to be taken seriously. There are different demographics. There were people in their 50s who were just looking for a refresher.

“Being 17 and going to college is not the usual thing. Dealing with my high school, they were able to help me figure out a plan to get my college degree without affecting my work or high school.”

Her speech today will focus on overcoming adversity and embracing desire.

“I’m going to talk about how a lot of times we get told ‘No,’ and that what we want to do is important,” Osorio said. “My entire life is made up of important.”