International mother and daughter find success, second family at HCC

Aug 7, 2018


Regulars at the Houston Community College District’s Neo Market & Bakery are familiar with Eileen D’Cruz’s smiling face at the café’s cash register. “This was my first job ever and the customers are really nice, really helpful,” says Eileen, an HCC media arts graduate.

But while the customers savored their breakfast or lunch, they might not have known Eileen’s mother helped prepare their meal in the café’s kitchen.

Like her daughter, Samira D’Cruz is an HCC graduate, whose love of cooking led her to HCC’s Culinary Program. “All my life I had a passion to do culinary arts,” Samira says. “So, I came here and liked HCC. This is like a family.”

The mother and daughter are international graduates. Samira was born in India and Eileen’s father is Portuguese. HCC’s international culture drew them to the school. “The thing that I love about HCC is it is very diverse, not just with students, but with staff and employees,” Eileen says.

Recently, Samira and Eileen’s HCC pathway led them to Minute Maid Park. As part of an HCC partnership with the Houston Astros, Eileen submitted her life story in a student competition and was chosen to be honored before a game. “I went to the Astros game and was taken out on the field,” Eileen recalls. “They honored me with a ceremonial bat where they engraved my name and HCC, as well. I’m a big Astros fan and I’m still in shock.”

Eileen and her mom are moving on from HCC and the Neo Market and Bakery. Eileen plans on attending the University of Houston to study mechanical engineering. Samira’s future is in the restaurant business. “I plan in the future to start my own restaurant,” Samira says. “First, I plan to work as an executive chef to get some more experience.”

Both women say they will always be part of the HCC family and would recommend the college to anyone looking for an education. Samira says, “People who come to HCC will have a great experience.”

Eileen believes students can’t go wrong by choosing HCC. “It is a very active place and you can do anything,” she says. “There are so many majors and programs. HCC is a great place to learn.”

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