When the staff at Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement think of Eva Alvarado, two words come to mind: perseverance and resilience.
Alvarado is a divorced mother of three, two who are adults and now live on their own. Her youngest, a 14-year-old son, lives with her in Brownsville. Two years ago, her youngest was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, dyslexia and autism. Alvarado quit working because he required all of her attention.
Alvarado already knew about adversity. Both of her parents passed away when she was just 12 years old. Afraid they would be separated through the foster-care system, Alvardo and her older sister, 15 at the time, somehow managed to stay under the radar and care for themselves, their five-year-old sister, and each other. The family lived in public housing. The sisters budgeted their money to pay the rent, buy groceries and make all other required payments. The lessons they learned along the way have been difficult, but they prepared the sisters for life and its challenges.
As an adult, Alvarado was determined to provide a better life for herself and her children. She enrolled in a laboratory technician program; however, while working toward her degree, she received a shocking diagnosis. She had cancer. Her lessons of facing adversity head on reemerged.
Overcoming with VIDA
Free of cancer since 2006 and now better prepared to handle her son’s needs, Alvarado decided to enroll in the radiologic-technology program at Texas Southmost College in Brownsville. Then Alvarado heard about VIDA, a program that prepares unemployed and underemployed Valley residents with high-skill, high-wage jobs identified in this region. The program has a commitment to helping participants break down barriers that traditionally cause them to drop out of college.
Alvarado made the decision to apply and was accepted this semester. VIDA is now providing Alvarado with assistance for her tuition, books, and the uniform and shoes she needs for the radiologic-technology program.
“I want a better quality of life so I can support my family with dignity and be the first in my family to graduate,” Alvarado said. “My kids look up to me as a role model, and I would like to make them proud.”