It is an all-too-common example of Catch-22. A person decides the only way to get out of a low-paying job is to get certification or a degree. In order to pay for school, the person needs a job. However, to keep the job, the person has to be able to work. School schedules can make that quite difficult.
Sebastian Mendoza almost found himself stuck in such a Catch-22. He enrolled in classes at South Texas College and needed a job to pay for his classes. A resident of Weslaco, Mendoza secured a part-time position in one of the stores at Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets. He was making minimum wage.
Mendoza saw fliers posted around the STC campus about VIDA, Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement. VIDA is a nonprofit organization that has been helping people in the Rio Grande Valley for over 25 years. It helps them get out of poverty and into high-demand, high-paying jobs through education.
“I was very intrigued and interested in applying because I liked what the program stood for and that VIDA is willing to help students pursue higher education,” Mendoza said. Apply he did, and VIDA accepted him into the program at the start of this semester, his second at STC.
Mendoza is pursuing an Associate Degree in Nursing.
“VIDA is helping me with supplies, books, and any additional resources I can utilize to ensure my success,” Mendoza said.
Those additional resources include VIDA’s non-monetary, wraparound services. Individual and group counseling help their participants learn important skills like how to establish and stick to a budget. VIDA also helps individuals deal with stress, create a resume, manage their time and study effectively. These wraparound services have proven to be a major factor in VIDA’s success and in their participants’ ability to overcome obstacles that often prevent students from completing a degree.
Mendoza is on track to graduate with his ADN in May but that will not be the end of college for him.
“My career goal is to become an RN (registered nurse) and begin working on the front lines, improving the quality of life–and making a difference–for each patient I provide care for,” Mendoza said.
Being in STC’s ADN Program has had a significant impact on Mendoza, academically, and has positively influenced his self-esteem.
“My life has changed drastically ever since I began college, as well as getting accepted into my school’s nursing program, because I used to be very shy and timid,” he said. “I would always have struggles, academically, since elementary but I have been progressing and excelling in my schooling and academics.”
Being a VIDA participant has provided Mendoza with critical financial and emotional support.
“VIDA is important because it provides the tools and resources to ensure student success and assist students struggling financially,” he said.
No longer stuck in a Catch-22, each day brings Mendoza another step away from poverty and into prosperity.