The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

TCC adult education helps 3 women bond


By Shirlett Warren/editor-in-chief

A basic education is something many take for granted, but three women recognized how an education could lead to better opportunities.

So they took charge of their future and started sharing one car to make sure they each made it to class.

Fannis Castro, Marina Gonzalez and Luz Perez each faced the challenge of learning English and getting their GED. They met in TCC’s Workforce Services program that assists people in improving basic reading, math and English-as-a-second-language skills. The program also prepares students to pass the GED test and helps develop work readiness skills through vocational training and college-level coursework.

“Every job I applied for required a GED. It was embarrassing,” Castro said. “I said, ‘I have to do it. I have to do it.’ I didn’t want to be a school bus driver forever.”

Castro, a single mother of three, values her job but said she gets up at 4 a.m. every morning.

“I hope I don’t wake up my neighbors in my apartment doing laundry,” she said, laughing.

Castro said she does her homework during the day in between her school bus schedule.

“I even take my books on field trips,” she said. “I’m glad my classes are at night, so I don’t have to miss work.”

Castro left the program at one point because of personal hardships. She drove from Arlington to TR Campus four days a week and said she had to borrow money for gas because of the distance. Her friends Gonzalez and Perez reached out to her, and they made a pact to

finish the program.

“By myself with three kids, I didn’t have anybody else,” Castro said. “[We’re] just pushing one another.”

As Castro spoke, Perez and Gonzalez smiled at her and nodded in agreement. They said they bonded because they shared similar life challenges.

“The language, the new concept, the words were new to everyone,” Perez said.

Gonzalez said she always liked school, but the opportunity in the United States was better than what she had in her home country, Mexico.

“I went to third grade two, three years in a row, and I only finished junior high school,” Gonzalez said. “My first English teacher was Sesame Street. I learned a lot from that program and the library.”

She said her first jobs in the U.S. were babysitting and cleaning houses.

“I would take my kids with me to clean houses,” she said. “But when my baby started first grade, I thought, ‘It’s time for me.’”

Gonzalez said she was nervous when she took her GED test but was happy when she passed all her tests. She credits Workforce Services academic advisor Sharee Davis for her success in the program.

“Ms. Davis is such a wonderful teacher,” she said. “I had teachers before, but I never had that push.”

Davis enrolled the women in Word and Excel computer classes before they took the GED test, and she also helped them with their homework.

“I had confidence because she trusted me,” Gonzalez said. “If she’s getting all these opportunities for us, I have to be confident.”

Castro and Perez echoed Gonzalez’s support of Davis as an advisor and instructor. Davis said she is passionate about helping others succeed because she remembers when people reached out to her.

“I’ve seen their journey from the beginning,” Davis said. “A lot of the things my students went through, I went through too.”

Davis said her mother never graduated high school. Her dream was to see her children graduate, but she died from illness when Davis was 16.

“The hardships are different. I’m not married. I don’t have children, but I’m resilient,” Davis said. “I had a lot of responsibilities as a teenager. I balanced the family checkbook, did finances and still made straight A’s.”

Each of the women want to be an example to their children and want them all to go to college. In fact, Gonzalez’ daughter is a TR student on the nursing program wait list.

“When my family, my kids look at me studying, there are no excuses,” Gonzalez said.

Perez continued to smile as she listened to her friends share their accomplishments and goals. She also wants a better job, and getting her GED has helped her confidence.

She’s currently in a program where she’s learning to prep and sterilize hospital equipment.

“I’m taking life one day at a time,” Perez said. “The sky is the limit.”

Castro, who just completed an ophthalmology course, agreed with Perez.

“I’m so interested in the eye that I want to study the whole anatomy,” Castro said. “You can come to my ophthalmology office one day. I’m going to be famous.”

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