When McAllen resident Maria Delgado first applied to the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement in 2012 after learning about it from an outreach counselor at South Texas College, the VIDA staff knew she was an excellent candidate.
Delgado was a single mother with two daughters, ages 11 and 5, unemployed and on public assistance and a first-generation college student. She served in the National Guard for two-and-a-half years. But then doctors diagnosed her mother with cancer. Delgado was granted an honorable discharge because her mother could no longer help care for her children.
With no job, no car and inconsistent child support, Delgado realized education was the only way she could prevent herself and her children from drowning in debt. She applied to VIDA for financial assistance with her licensed vocational nurse training.
Joining A Culture of Success
VIDA, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, began in the Rio Grande Valley in 1995, when community leaders from Valley Interfaith and business leaders in the region recognized the need to provide underserved Valley residents with the training, education, and tools they needed to move out of public assistance and poverty and into high-skill, high-demand jobs. Working with educational institutions, workforce leaders and nonprofit organizations in our area, VIDA breaks down the barriers to certifications and degrees that often prevent people like Delgado from completing educational programs.
VIDA accepted Delgado into the program. She then completed the LVN program and passed the state exam to earn her certification. Once certified, Delgado accepted a job at Ageless Living Home Health, earning $21 an hour.
But LVN is only the first step in the LVN-ADN program. Once a student in this transition program earns LVN certification, the next step is to work toward an Associate Degree in Nursing. Upon completion of the program and after passing the state certification exam, the student earns the title of registered nurse. Delgado completed the ADN program in one year, graduating in the fall of 2020. She also passed the state exam.
“VIDA helped me succeed and graduate by financially assisting me with tuition, books, and exam fees,” Delgado said. “My counselor, Leslly, encouraged me and motivated me to continue my education by providing me with skills such as stress management, relaxation exercises and time management.” These wraparound services are a core element of VIDA’s program.
Another Life Changed
Delgado now holds the title of registered nurse, working at Angels Living Home Health and earning $30 per hour with benefits.
“My life has changed,” Delgado said. “I was able to witness, in my own skin, the struggles to be able to achieve my goal. I proved to myself that with determination and encouragement, and by not giving up, I am able to conquer my fears of failure.”
This proud RN recognizes the role VIDA played in her achievements.
“VIDA is very important in our community,” Delgado said. “It helps people seeking to educate and better themselves, not only financially, but by the counselors motivating and encouraging the students to meet their goals.”