KOKOMO, Ind. — From the age of 16, Brenno Pecora has lived without his family.
A native of Brazil, he lived by himself in Carmel, while his family stayed in South America. He had nobody to cheer for him when he excelled on the soccer field, take pictures when he went to the prom, celebrate his birthday with him, or watch with pride as he received his high school diploma.
But once he started college at Indiana University Kokomo, he found a new home through the campus.
That’s why I’m still here,” said Pecora, a sophomore majoring in business. “I love the professors, the staff, and the students. They’re all so family-oriented, and have really helped me succeed in everything I do. They helped me move one step higher and pushed me to be better.”
As a student in the School of Business, he’s made friends and participated in travel opportunities, including a conference in Chicago and a behind-the-scenes trip to Walt Disney World. Later this year, he will attend a professional conference in Las Vegas with one of his classes.
Outside the classroom, he’s found ways to be involved, including participating in the Human Resources Student Organization and the Women in Business club — which is open to both women and men. These opportunities give him a sense of belonging, especially as a minority.
I’m a strong advocate for equality for women and minorities,” he said. “We have to work three times harder than everyone else. I want all of us to have the same opportunities because there’s so much potential for everyone.”
All of these experiences will help him achieve his dream of being an entrepreneur once he earns his degree in business management and international business.
He could never have imagined his IU Kokomo experience when he began his solo life in Indiana five years ago.
Pecora was born in Brazil, and grew up moving back and forth between his country and the United States.
Family means the world to me,” he said. “Some people take family for granted. They don’t really understand the value it brings. Parents are there to guide you to the right path, and are always there for guidance. I lacked that a little bit, so I had to grow up faster than a lot of teenagers.”
While Pecora has worked hard to provide for himself, he’s always put money aside, with plans to visit his mother and siblings at some point. In December 2018, he saw his mother for the first time in five years, flying to her new home in Portugal. He will never forget the moment in the airport when he was reunited with her.
I cried a lot,” he said. “It was probably the most emotional I’ve ever been. I could barely look her in the eye, because we were both crying. We both needed to reconnect, to see each other again, to make sure everything is OK with each other.”
Even though they live on different continents, Pecora said his family is proud of the opportunities he has, and follow his adventures at IU Kokomo on social media.
This is what they want me to be, this is what they’ve helped me get to,” he said. “They are very proud of me, and hope for my continued success.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.