Jacob Zuniga lives in McAllen. He was working part-time at H-E-B, knowing he had to graduate from college to reach his goal of becoming a radiology technician. Yet, he was unable to attend school full time because he also needed to provide for his family. His path to graduation had countless stumbling blocks.
Zuniga knew about Valley Initiative for Development because his mom is a VIDA graduate who became a registered nurse with the program’s help. He then decided to apply. He met the eligibility requirements and was accepted into the program in August of 2019.
“I am currently in the radiologic-technology program at South Texas College,” Zuniga said. “VIDA has helped me tremendously with costs like tuition, uniforms, books and childcare. VIDA has certainly lifted the financial burden of trying to take care of my family while going to school full time.”
In addition to much-needed financial assistance, VIDA provides all participants with wrap-around services. During weekly counseling sessions, VIDA’s career counselors cover topics like financial matters, family issues and time management. They also incorporate soft-skills training, such as employability, resume preparation, interviewing and study skills. The dedicated counselors also meet with VIDA participants one on one. They gauge their progress in school as well as their emotional wellbeing.
A change in path
Zuniga is set to complete the program at STC in the summer of 2021. He will then be eligible to sit for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists’ national certification examination. A passing score earns Zuniga the designation of registered radiologic technologist or RT(R). The State of Texas also requires that he apply for state licensure before practicing in the state.
VIDA turned Zuniga’s stumbling blocks into stepping stones, with sights set on completing the program. He is confident in his preparation for the national exam and earning his state license.
“I will be able to support my family with a steady income,” Zuniga said, knowing that radiology technician is a high-demand field.
Zuniga credits VIDA for changing his life’s path. “VIDA is important because it gives lower-income people the opportunity to pursue higher education and a chance at many career options.”