A 17-year-old Filipino American from Queens, New York lost both his parents to COVID-19 in a span of one month — soon after their entire family contracted the disease.
Roberto Tobias Jr., a rising senior at Frank McCourt High School, is now asking for help to fund his college education, with hopes of pursuing a pre-medical major.
The teen’s life began to turn around in early March, when his father tested positive for COVID-19. Roberto Tobias Sr. was rushed to the emergency room at Mount Sinai Astoria later that month.
As a nurse, Roberto’s mother, Loida, took care of his father until contracting the disease herself. She was rushed to the same emergency room a week after her husband’s hospitalization.
The family’s plight continued as Roberto’s 29-year-old sister, Beverly, soon tested positive for the coronavirus. And, as if things were not bad enough, he contracted the virus too.
Roberto had mild symptoms, while Beverly — who was also rushed at the emergency room — eventually recovered. Unfortunately, his parents did not meet the same fate.
On May 30, Roberto’s father died from complications after contracting the virus.
“I immediately started breaking down. I held his hand, and with my mask on I kissed him on the forehead. And I sort of just had my last words with him,” Roberto said, according to Spectrum News NY1.
Then, his mother passed away on June 30.
“How much in shock I was and how devastated I was knowing I lost my parents exactly a month from each other,” he told the outlet.
Roberto’s parents moved to the U.S. to start a family in 1990. His father, a teacher, found employment as a bartender at the World Trade Center, while his mother worked long hours to cover their bills.
“It sounds like a cliche,” Roberto told the New York Post. “But their work ethic, their compassion for each other, their emotional maturity – it really inspired me growing up.”
Despite his overwhelming loss, Roberto finished his junior year with a 93% grade point average. He also found work as an assistant at Mt. Sinai Queens, helped organize initiatives under student government, and volunteered at events to support his teachers.
“Ever since elementary school, I’ve always seen my education as an important aspect of my life. I always strived to do my best, hell, even past the expectations that I thought was set for myself. From elementary school to middle school and especially high school, I always aspired to pursue my goals and dreams,” he said. “When I enter college, I want to study pre-med and go on to medical school to pursue a career as a neurosurgeon.”
Unfortunately, the passing of Roberto’s parents leaves him with an uncertain future. He launched a GoFundMe page in hopes of finding support.
“Hopefully, with this fundraiser, I’ll be able to help fund my first year of college while I work towards funding my own career,” said Roberto. “Any amount would definitely be appreciated and I genuinely thank you for reading this.”
Funds will be directed to Pureza Capriles, Roberto’s aunt and current legal guardian.
“She’ll ensure that the the funds will be directed towards housing, necessities, and most importantly, tuition,” Roberto said.
Feature Images via Tobias Family