I know that some of my friends and colleagues get tired of this, but I truly believe in the mission of community colleges – which means I love to tell stories about the impact that we can have. Our mission of open doors and equal access, of equity in student success, and of completion and transition to living wage jobs and/or further education is, fundamentally, a mission of serving each individual student who knocks on our door. We do this with short-term credentials that lead to an entry-level job, with associate degrees that lead to transfer or skilled employment, and with adult education and literacy programs that help students complete their high school equivalency, learn English, and make a better life for themselves and their families.
This mission is highlighted in this beautiful and powerful story from Texas Monthly. As you read through the story, look for the name of Maricela Juarez. Her story (and that of her son) is part of the larger focus of this article. And her story is also an ACC success story, thanks to the dedicated commitment of our colleagues in Adult Education.
Maricela got her high school equivalency (GED) with the help of our Adult Ed program. She then went through Adult Ed’s College Prep program to help her beef up her college-going skills before transitioning to credit classes, where Maricela earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice with us. Even better, Maricela started as an intern in Adult Ed while she was preparing for the GED exam, and she is now a full-time employee managing Adult Ed’s enrollment desk at EVC. She has great skill in this role because she can connect with new Adult Ed students as one who has taken the journey that they are beginning.
Maricela plans to complete a baccalaureate degree, and we are confident that she will. She has overcome tremendous challenges and barriers, challenges which would break some people – but Maricela has persevered. She is her own success story – but ACC will claim her as well. So here’s to our mission, our open doors, our equity-minded actions, our varied programs. And here’s to Maricela!