BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil As his widowed mother was somehow helping four sons through college, Alecar de Jesus Silva Jr. returned from his mission with virtually no opportunity to attend college.
His mother, Olga Maria Lima Silva, had lost her husband, his father, while she was expecting her seventh child.
Still, she tried to give her family the best possible opportunities. Four sons served full-time missions in addition to attending college.
The Perpetual Education Fund made the difference for Alecar Jr., as he is called. He received financial support from the Institute of Religion in Belo Horizonte. He soon began school at the Pontificie Catholic University in that city.
A member of the Palmeiras Ward, Belo Horizonte West Stake, he accepted the challenge by President Gordon B. Hinckley to seek excellence in his education.
Now, four years later, the evidence of his dedication is ample. At his graduation ceremony, he received the Academic Honors Student Award, given to the best student in all four years among 420 graduates.
He also received a merit honor and has been granted academic awards each of the four years.
"I always avoided studying on Sundays because that is a sacred day for me," he told the Academic Institution Journal, which interviewed him when he received his first award.
He received the top award shortly after the death of his mother. "I thank my parents and brothers, and especially my mother for this award," he said. "She was responsible for what I and my family have accomplished. She has always supported me in my studies. I am happy that now she knows of my achievements."
Brother Silva is now an information systems analyst at Cummins Komatsu, a multinational company that makes automated equipment used in mining and excavation.
"My family, friends and I are very pleased with this award," he said. At 26 years of age, he is a member of a stake high council, second counselor in the stake Young Men organization and has been the young single adult leader since he returned from the Brazil Belem Mission.
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