VIDA Participant Success Story Featured in Article

This story is from The Rio Grande Guardian dated 5/4/2011

AUSTIN,TX – Two recipients of the workforce training projects administered by Project VIDA and Project ARRIBA have told their stories to the Guardian.

Project VIDA in the Rio Grande Valley and Project ARRIBA in El Paso have helped thousands of low-income, unemployed and underemployed border residents get the training they need to secure high-skilled, high-wage jobs.

Diana Gaytan lives in El Paso. She participated in Project ARRIBA. Here is her story:

“When I was 8 years old, my father decided to move our family from Juarez to Texas. He went from being an engineer making good money in Juarez to working in the fields of Texas.

“I asked my dad why he moved us – he was working so much harder for much less money. He said that there were more opportunities in Texas than Juarez – it took me a while to realize that he wasn’t talking about his opportunities – but the opportunities for me and my sisters.

“In many ways, the same thing happened to me. I was working and getting by – but I realized there weren’t opportunities for me to advance and I wasn’t going to be able to provide many opportunities for my kids.

“So, I went to school – I was accepted into the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, which is highly competitive with about 12-16 students out of 500 being accepted each year.

“My days at school were often 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. That kept me away from my son and family. During this time, I was pregnant with my daughter and their dad was in Iraq. For several months, I had no contact with him because of his remote location.

“I had misjudged how much money I needed to go through school while taking care of my son. I was on the verge of dropping out. Then I heard about Project ARRIBA. They were able to help me with my expenses so I would be able to continue and graduate. I currently have two job offers. Just as my father sacrificed for me, I know my sacrifices will pay off for my kids. When my mom saw me in school, she enrolled in college too.

“Please continue to invest in Project ARRIBA and families like mine.”

Patricia Solis lives in the Rio Grande Valley. She participated in Project VIDA. Here is her story:

“My name is Patricia Solis. I am a recent graduate of the 2010 Vocational Nursing Program.

“Before the program I was working as a Medical Assistant earning a minimum paycheck. Being a food stamp/Medicaid recipient, I decided to put myself through school to provide a better future for my kids.

“When I got accepted to the nursing program I didn’t know if I was going to be able to afford to actually go through the program without working. When I heard about VIDA/JET, I thought might as well try. Being accepted gave me the answer I was looking for.

“It was a struggle through the program from losing my house to having to live in my mother’s house. I always had to explain to my kids that patience is a virtue, and good things come to those who wait. Sure enough, I graduated and passed my state board exam and currently a licensed vocational nurse.

“Now I have a good paying job without struggles and still continuing my education to eventually obtain my bachelors degree. I was able to get my own place again and my family couldn’t be happier!

“A huge THANK YOU to VIDA/JET for their contributions to my education. Thanks for believing in me.”