It’s an industry that’s growing rapidly in Austin, with thousands of job openings expected over the next few years, but biotechnology isn’t where Sonja Tellez first saw herself.
A high school dropout, Tellez, stepped into the ACC Biotechnology Program feeling intimidated.
“A lot of my classmates already had degrees. They held bachelor’s and master’s and were coming to ACC to get more credentials. Here I was, still taking remedial math,” says Tellez. “But I had come so far already, and I didn’t want to give up. I leaned on my teachers and my husband for support.”
“I knew I needed to make a change, for myself and for my kids.”
After dropping out of school in the 10th grade Tellez worked one odd job after another to provide for her two young children.
“For eight years I worked in fast food and through temp agencies,” says Tellez. “I knew I needed to make a change, for myself and for my kids.”
She set her sights on getting her GED and enrolled at Austin Community College.
“Going back to school after so long while still working full time was hard and scary. Once I started though, my confidence grew,” says Tellez.
After earning her GED, Tellez began taking college courses and soon after found ACC’s Biotechnology Program. She took classes every semester for four years before earning an internship with Austin-based XBioTech. They offered her a full-time job by graduation.
“There were times I was ready to throw in the towel, but every struggle was worth it,” admits Tellez. “Not only did I find work that I love, I now have job security. I hope my kids now see the power of an education. I may be the first in my family to earn a college degree, but hopefully I won’t be the last.”Back to Top