Disa Fonseca, a Free High School graduate

There are many reasons students end up having to drop out of regular high school. Disa’s reason was that her grandmother became ill, so she had to go from her home in rural Las Delicias to her grandmother’s house in town every day to take care of her. She also started working 12 hours a day — from 7 am to 7 pm — to run a laundromat set up in her grandmother’s house. Like many in her generation, Disa was raised by her grandmother, Santo Lacayo, pictured below with Disa and little Sebastian.

Disa Fonseca

After her grandmother recovered, Disa started going to the Free High School. She was determined to finish school even after she became pregnant. Disa didn’t miss a single day during her pregnancy, despite the long hours trying to squeeze herself and her growing belly into the pupitres (hard wooden chairs with a desk attached to one arm) which were meant for younger (and less pregnant!) students. They were uncomfortable, but she managed by swinging herself sideways in the chair.

Sebastian was born shortly after Disa’s fourth year ended, and he was only two months old when her fifth and final year was set to begin. Dropping out wasn’t an option for Disa this time. When asked about it, she would only mention that other women had it worse. “Maria del los Angeles came back when her baby was only two weeks old. And she had to bring him to class.” Disa was luckier: Her mother-in-law lived nearby and took care of the baby on Saturdays, but Disa had to spend her lunch hour walking over there to nurse him. She didn’t miss a single day that year either.

Disa finished her senior monograph on Sandinista Youth (a political group), which involved some traveling with her team to interview members, and she graduated in 2014 at age 28.

Despite the fact that Disa and Santo are both working on weekdays, between the two of them, they keep an eye on Sebastian. For now Disa is still at the laundromat, but when asked how valuable the degree is to her, she only raises her eyebrows. Its value is unquestionable. When Sebastian is older, Disa plans to go to the university in nearby Rivas to study graphic design. We wish her the best of luck!

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