By Alan Babbitt
Ivonne and Wilmer Miralda beamed with pride as they watched for the first time their son, Jean Luc Miralda, dive competitively for Hope College at the Michigan Intercollegiate Association Championship.
A long journey, both in a geographic and emotional sense, for a family from Honduras reached in a fitting place — together.
"It's a closing of a history in his life," Ivonne said. "Diving is something he started in our country with boards that were like tables. They were 1965 boards. Seeing him do this amazing and be at the same level as kids who learn it on good boards, I'm grateful."
Added Wilmer, "This is a special moment. We are closing a cycle. This level has completed. The effort we made as a family, and Jean Luc is doing, is very special."
One of the top divers in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Jean Luc finished third on both the 1- and 3-meter boards at the 2017 MIAA Championship. He earned All-MIAA honors for the fourth time in his career.
Jean Luc is competing in this weekend's NCAA Division III Diving Zone Regionals at Calvin and vying for a berth to the national meet.
After graduating from Hope College, Jean Luc is planning on finding a job within higher education in marketing & public relations, alumni engagement or college admissions. He is majoring in communication and minoring in organizational leadership.
He will continue diving for the Honduras National Team and try out for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Wilmer, a civil engineer, in Honduras, and Ivonne, a cosmetologist there, are proud of the young man their third-oldest child has become after choosing his own path of study in the United States. His two older brothers attended Worcester (Massachusetts) Polytechnic University..
The Miraldas are very grateful for Hope, Wilmer said.
"They opened an opportunity for Jean Luc. He did a great job," Wilmer said. "The most important thing as a father is that you can see the different connection they make with their environment. We were praying to God that when he finished the school that God can give him a light in the tunnel to continue in this country that is very special for us.
"Our four kids all have scholarships. This is a big opportunity to understand that the world is not easy. It is a challenge. You have to give your best effort. You have to give your best. We are so happy with Hope College because they have given Jean Luc a tremendous environment.
"The academic people here, the staff, everybody, they share with us in this special moment."
Jean Luc has gained maturity through his time at Hope College and is prepared for life, Ivonne said.
"He's an outstanding lovable kid," Ivonne said. "For us as parents, it has been tough. We have four kids. We don't do a million dollars. It's hard when you have four kids in the United States studying at the same time in college, but they have responded.
"We always told them 'If they are giving you, you have to give back. I think he has done his job. He is loved by all your people. We are really impressed."