Sometimes life plunges us into a classic catch-22. That is exactly where Cesar Romero found himself. Working as a nurse technician, Romero was earning $11 an hour. In order to increase his income, he applied to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Learning that the program required full-time-student status peppered his joy at being accepted. He could not afford to pay for the program without a job.
“I had to work to relieve some of my financial stress,” Romero said.
Romero’s dream, though so close, dangled beyond his reach. But he knew he could not pass up this opportunity. Suddenly Romero found himself unemployed and divorced with a four-year-old child. Fortunately, his parents allowed him to move back home with them to reduce his financial burden.
Then classmates at UTRGV told Romero about the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement. The Mercedes-based nonprofit organization helps unemployed and underemployed Valley residents earn the education they need for high-skill, high-wage jobs in high-demand fields. Romero applied and was accepted into VIDA.
“VIDA helped me with my school tuition,” Romero said. “They also provided me with not only books but also clinical equipment, such as scrubs, shoes, stethoscopes, scissors and penlights.”
VIDA staff work to remove the barriers that often prevent adult students from earning a certificate or degree.
“VIDA is needed,” Romero said, “because the cost of tuition and fees rises yearly, adding more debt for students and making it difficult to be a full-time student without a job.”
Without VIDA’s assistance, Romero could not have fulfilled the responsibilities of being a full-time student and having 10-hour clinicals.
“VIDA granted me the ability to focus on school and on my studies instead of worrying about my financial needs while going through a difficult program such as the BSN.”
Romero’s focus paid off. He graduated in spring 2020 with his BSN and accepted a job as a registered nurse at Edinburg Regional Medical Center earning $25.75 an hour. It’s more than double what he was earning as a nurse technician.
VIDA allowed Romero to climb out of the catch-22 and fulfill his once-elusive goal.