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South Bay Woman Overcomes Childhood Tragedy to Excel

SOUTH BAY (CBS SF) -- This week's Students Rising Above scholar experienced a tragedy no child should ever have to go through when she was just six years old.

For Veronica Toscano, home really is sweet.

On a recent spring evening at her tidy South Bay condo, the 35-year-old Tech Privacy expert recalled her buyer's struggle in the Bay Area's hyper competitive real estate market.

"When I was home shopping properties were going super-fast, wouldn't even last the weekend," said Toscano of her home hunt. "A lot of the homes were you purchase and you have to repair. This one was ready to go and I was like okay I am not going to lose that."

Toscano's determination to succeed is evident in her beautiful home and everything else she does. Even her down time is spent with purpose, as she makes a point to watch Spanish language Television so she doesn't lose her native language skills.

"I listen to Spanish-speaking shows to help me remember [my] Spanish to make sure it doesn't go away," explained Toscano.

Toscano's positive, can-do attitude is evident to all who meet her, so it may surprise some to know that when she was just six years old, Toscano experienced a family tragedy no child should ever have to go through: her father shot and killed her older brother.

Toscano's beloved mother was sitting right next to her son as he was murdered. She struggled as her husband fled to Mexico, never returning to the United States.

"He never served a day in prison for the crime he committed. He fled the scene," explained Toscano of her mother's pain. "You know there isn't a playbook of what you do, or a plan when your husband shoots and kills your son...How do you pick yourself up from that?"

Her mother did pick up the pieces and carry on. She's raised her daughters as a single parent for the last three decades.

"I can't believe it's been 30 years now," said Toscano. "It just blows my mind because I wake up and I think about my brother and I go to bed and I think about my brother."

Toscano doesn't just think about her brother, she talks about him too. Over the years she has shared his story at Students Rising Above events. A process that has helped her heal, as she also shares career advice on-line as a way to inspire others.

A recent blog post Toscano authored on LinkedIn garnered over 400,000 views, a feat Toscano jokingly admits she has not be able to replicate.

"It was my first [post], so now when I write others, I am a bit let down," said Toscano with a laugh.

It's that joyful spirit and family that keeps Toscano going. Her mom is still her best friend and Toscano admits she calls her 5 times a day.

All the while Toscano says she carry's her brother in her heart, and wonders what life would be like if that fateful day had never happened.

"I wonder what life would be like," said Toscano. "If he was here."

Students Rising Above has been a great support for Toscano over the years, and she encourages donations to the organization.

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