From Colombia to Costco, SU senior 'living the American dream'

From Colombia to Costco, SU senior 'living the American dream'
Ramon Penaranda in Seattle, Washington. June 6, 2014.

SEATTLE - A student whose childhood was filled with violence, bullets, and bombs says he's now living the American dream thanks to a local retail giant.

Ramon Penaranda grew up in Cucuta, Colombia where he says he didn't have as many opportunities as he does now in Seattle.

"My mom had to work many jobs for us to go to school. Education is not free, even elementary education," said Penaranda.

Penaranda also had the challenges of a violent society. His uncle was murdered, and found shot in the face six times.

"That just happens in Colombia, people randomly get killed," he said.

To rise above their struggles, his mother emphasized the importance of education. He said, "She used to say that people can take anything from you, but they can never take away your education."
Penaranda and his family moved to the states with dreams of a better life. Penaranda applied to 25 colleges, and when he was accepted at Seattle University, he was matched with a scholarship from Costco.

Costco has helped more than 1000 students with scholarships over the years, and the big box store where you can buy toilet paper in bulk and canned goods by the case, is covering Penaranda's tuition.

"This is something that I have always wanted to do, it is something that I thought was unattainable when I lived in Colombia," said Penaranda.

Penaranda's parents will see him graduate in a week with a degree in general science.

But before Penaranda attends dentistry school at the University of Washington, he says "The first thing I'm doing after graduation is getting a Costco membership."