Nursing A Dream Into Reality


Nursing A Dream Into Reality

Cristina Martinez
Cristina Martinez

Growing up, Cristina Martinez witnessed her mom’s financial struggle and her resilience every day. Martinez’ mom did not graduate from high school, and yet, as a single mother with three children, she had to find a way to provide for them.

“She worked as a custodian for many years to be able to provide,” Martinez said.

In January 2020, Martinez, a resident of Pharr, was earning $10.50 an hour working as a medical assistant at a local doctor’s office.

“I now have two children of my own and I can identify with my mom’s struggles of being a single parent,” the Pharr resident said. “I am trying to break that cycle and provide a better future for my family.”

Martinez knew what she wanted to do. “My main goal is to become a registered nurse and maybe specialize in labor and delivery at a local hospital,” she said.

A Break In The Cycle

Then a former Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement participant told Martinez about the program and how it could help her knock down the barriers that often prevent people like her from achieving their educational and career goals.

Martinez applied to VIDA and was accepted in January 2020. It was just as she was starting the Vocational Nursing Program at South Texas College. She has since completed this program and has transitioned into the Associate Degree Nursing Program. It puts her one step closer to being an RN.

“VIDA has helped me with tuition, books, testing fees, uniforms and counseling sessions,” Martinez said. This is what the nonprofit organization refers to as its “wraparound services,” providing priceless individual and group counseling sessions in addition to financial support.

“Our weekly counseling sessions have helped me stay motivated and focus on my education,” Martinez said. And the financial support has also been invaluable.  “The reason it took me almost 10 years to return to school was the financial challenges that come with being a full-time student and still needing to provide for my children.”

In order to go to school full time and be a full-time single parent, Martinez has had to rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and Medicaid. She is happy this is temporary.

“I will be able to give my children a better life,” Martinez said about life after her May 2022 graduation. “We will be off welfare. This has not only changed me, but it’s made a huge impact on them. I will have more job opportunities and can continue to expand my knowledge.”

Martinez said focusing on skills she has learned from her VIDA case manager and career counselor, like time management and study skills, have also made her a role model for her children. And VIDA has also put her on a trajectory toward financial stability.

“VIDA has made it possible to have that professional career I always wanted,” she said. “Before VIDA, I was planning to graduate from college with student loans. Because of this amazing organization, I will graduate debt-free.”

To learn more about VIDA, visit