Thursday, February 04, 2010


FURTHER INFORMATION:            STACY ARMSTRONG (626) 857-4082, ROBIN MCBURNEY (626) 914-8542


Citrus College Faculty Member Adopts Guatemalan Family

by Stacy Armstrong


In April, Robin McBurney will be journeying to Guatemala to attend a graduation party.


While this may seem an extreme distance to travel for a common celebration, the Citrus College counselor insists that it will definitely be worthwhile.


“Stephanie is the first person in her whole family to graduate from high school, and the first female in her family not to be pregnant or get pregnant by age 16,” she explains.  “I don’t plan on missing her party.”


Stephanie, it so happens, is almost like an adopted daughter to McBurney.  Their relationship began 15 years ago when the Claremont resident was living and working in Guatemala.


“While I was there, I met a single mother named Keila who had two young children.  Keila worked for me for 7 months as a housekeeper and babysitter,” McBurney said.  “Her daughter, Stephanie, was four-years-old and around the same age as my oldest daughter.  So, I sent her to a bilingual school with my girls.  Stephanie really liked school and I have supported her health and education ever since.” 


This fall, Stephanie earned her high school diploma with a specialty in Tourism.  Understandably, McBurney is quite proud of this accomplishment.


“The most rewarding aspect of helping Stephanie complete high school was feeling as if I were a part of her life and family,” she said.  “We live in very different worlds, but the love we share towards each other brings us together where cultural differences don’t matter.”


Stephanie’s graduation is not the only major event that McBurney has been present for.


“I am part of her very large family and have attended weddings, funerals, birthday parties, and births as if I was one of them,” she said.


In fact, McBurney was present during a family tragedy that occurred right after Stephanie’s graduation ceremony.


“During the 6-hour event, members of Stephanie’s family talked and joked with me.  They were very pleased that I had come to celebrate with them, and I even took Stephanie and her mom and stepdad out for food afterwards,” she said.  “Later that night, I received a phone call from her stepdad saying that they had gotten home and discovered that Stephanie’s aunt had died.”


The young woman had had an epileptic seizure and hit her head, McBurney explains.


“Suddenly, the feeling of celebration had changed to deep shock and grief.  The surprise graduation party we were planning was cancelled and I helped the family as they planned the funeral and burial,” she said.


Now, the party is scheduled for April.  McBurney says she wouldn’t miss it.


“Her plan is to start college in January and continue her major in tourism.  I plan on paying for half of her college education,” she said.  “Love and support have made a difference in Stephanie’s life.  She will have more opportunities than other members in her family who never made it past the sixth grade.”





FURTHER INFORMATION:            STACY ARMSTRONG (626) 857-4082, ROBIN MCBURNEY (626) 914-8542



Stephanie and Robin