From Restaurant Cook to Patient Care


From Restaurant Cook to Patient Care

Juan de la RosaJuan de la Rosa of Donna was working as a cook at Longhorn Steakhouse when he decided to pursue a career in a high-demand field where he could earn more money while helping people. He decided to enroll at South Texas College in the Patient Care Technician Program. In this program, de la Rosa knew he would also be taught entry-level skills in phlebotomy, EKG and monitor technician.

While enrolling at STC, an employee there told him about the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement. The community-based, nonprofit 501 (c)(3) agency in Mercedes serves the entire Rio Grande Valley. VIDA addresses local employers’ needs for skilled workers by providing assistance to the unemployed and underemployed in this region. Those receiving assistance are then able to get the training needed to fill these high-skilled, high-wage jobs. De la Rosa applied to VIDA and was accepted. 

“I was able to study and focus on my classes,” de la Rosa said, because VIDA provided him with the tuition assistance he needed.

Now Past the Turning Point

De la Rosa completed the Patient Care Technician Program during the summer of this year and accepted a position with Briarcliff Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. He received a sign-on bonus when he accepted the job. De la Rosa recently learned he will be receiving a raise.

“Now I am able to work in a demanding job,” de la Rosa said. He is anxious to use the skills he learned at STC and his experience at Briarcliff to continue to the next level in the medical field. He looks to become a licensed vocational nurse.

VIDA’s career counselors work with the students in their program to offer counseling and guidance. They break down the barriers that often prevent individuals from completing programs, certificates and degrees that can provide higher salaries and a better life. In weekly counseling sessions, VIDA participants discuss topics such as budgets, stress management, family issues and time management. They also learn soft skills, such as how to write a resume and interview for a job. Guest speakers speak on topics like buying a home and investing money. It is because of these wrap-around services that VIDA participants have a 90-percent persistence rate.

Juan de la Rosa is yet another VIDA success story, successfully completing the program at STC. This is allowing him to start his new career. De la Rosa is well on his way to living a better VIDA.