Sunday, October 5, 2014

Meet the first Peruvian with Down syndrome to graduate college

From Peru This Week:

Bryan Russell Mujica, 22, finished his fifth year in journalism at USIL.

His first achievement was traveling alone by bus. He felt, then at age 17, independent. That day, led by his feet, he began walking in Miraflores and ended up lost in Chorrillos. He was never afraid. Moreover, Bryan says he almost never feels fear despite having Down syndrome which has caused him to be almost inseparable from his parents.

“A gentleman gave me a sol and another walked me to the bus. I was happy to tell my mom, who was frightened,” he says laughing.

His second achievement occurred Wednesday night when he heard his name called out amidst applause.
“I´m graduating? Me? I couldn´t believe it,” he says with a tender disbelief.

And it’s no wonder. Bryan Russell Mujica is 22 years old and the last five were spent trying to prove that he is no different. He enrolled at the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola convinced to become a journalist and came out convincing others. “It was my own decision, I love writing, I want people to be aware of me, I want them to read me,” he says.

So bold and persistent is Bryan, tells his mother Gladys. So much so that when some called her crazy for believing her son would graduate from university, she was not offended.

Twenty-two years ago a doctor had told her that Bryan would not be able to even walk. “I see him now, with his robe, his medals, applauded by all and I feel nothing but happiness,” she says.

Michael Russell, his father, who is British, could not stop smiling when he learned that Bryan had inherited his passion for reading. “He also tells jokes like me,” he tries to say in Spanish.

While his parents continue to celebrate his success, Bryan is already thinking where he will go next from here.

The first thing that comes to his mind is to start work and get a Masters degree.

“Marry? No, I’m too young, maybe when I´m 50 I´ll think about having children,” he says as he smiles again.