PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University presented its 2017 Mom of the Year Award to Maria Cruz during the annual Mom’s Weekend Brunch on Saturday, April 8. Cruz was nominated by her daughter Kelly Cruz, a senior at WSU.

A resident of Tonasket, Cruz was described by her daughter as selfless and a kind-hearted soul.

Maria Cruz has always worked long hours and cared for several other children, her daughter wrote in her nomination.

“I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis during my second year at WSU, and my life changed forever,” Cruz’s daughter said. “I told my mom the day I found out, and the next morning she drove to Pullman with my 8 year-old sister.”

Kelly Cruz said her mom never gave up on her, taking her from doctor to doctor and helping her with the simplest of tasks, from walking to dressing and tying shoes.

Maria Cruz, left, 47, of Tonasket, Wash., and her daughter, Kelly Cruz, 22, sit for a portrait after Maria Cruz was named Washington State University 2017 Mom of the Year at the Moms Weekend Breakfast on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at the Lewis Alumni Centre in Pullman. Kelly Cruz is senior majoring in sports management and strategic communication.

Maria Cruz has faced difficulties in her life as well. She lived through the civil war in El Salvador as a child and had to flee the country at the age of 14. Kelly wrote that her mom has overcome language barriers, discrimination and PTSD that she developed during the war.

In completing the nomination form, Kelly Cruz wrote that there have been moments that could have broken her mom’s soul, but she overcame them.

“Her determination has shown me that I am capable of anything, and that with a determined soul I can move forward and succeed just like she has. I am very proud to know that this woman, who has overcome such hardships, is the woman I get to proudly call my mom.”

The Mom of the Year Award is coordinated by the Mom’s Weekend Committee under the direction of the Women’s Resource Center. The award is presented each year to recognize the impact mothers make on their children’s lives and to honor their personal achievements and contributions to WSU and their local communities. Previous winners are available here: https://momsweekend.wsu.edu/mom-of-the-year/