Single mom Erika Elizondo was working as a front-desk receptionist less than two years ago at a resort on South Padre Island. She was earning $9.30 an hour when a friend told her about Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement.
“I was always interested in the medical field to help relieve people’s suffering,” Elizondo said. “I chose Emergency Medical Science because of the fast pace, I love the adrenaline rush.”
There were two things that stood in Elizondo’s way — finances and caring for her then-toddler son. Elizondo saw those barriers crumble after being accepted into the VIDA program.
“VIDA has helped me with tuition, books, uniforms and tools, and child care,” Elizondo said.
Elizondo’s VIDA counselor Ruben Garcia “helped me stay on my toes and remain focused and on task.”
She will graduate this month with an Associate of Applied Science in Emergency Medical Science from Texas Southmost College. But for her, graduation is the beginning, not the end.
“The more I have accomplished while preparing myself to be a first responder,” Elizondo said, “the more I see the need in the community and feel challenged to pursue more training in the medical field. I am now setting higher goals for myself and am more ambitious than I used to be.”
Working as a paramedic is the first step. Elizondo plans to progress in becoming a certified firefighter and enroll in a fire academy. She would like to eventually pursue a Bachelor of Science in nursing.
“Now that I have built a foundation for myself, I am proud of what I have accomplished,” Elizondo said. “I am expecting more and better opportunities to come my way so I can provide a better and secure life for my son.”
So much has changed for Elizondo since learning about VIDA.
“Having VIDA in my corner brings relief, not only financially by reducing the stress so I can focus on school,” Elizondo said, “but by mentoring me and keeping me accountable to my goals.”
This month, there will be a new paramedic in Los Fresnos, living a better VIDA.