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Munoz Overcomes Obstacles to Return to School

Saturday, January 18, 2014
By Eladio Jaimez

NeriSeveral times throughout her day, Neri Munoz has to remind herself to, "hechale ganas!" The popular Mexican saying roughly translates to, "give it all you've got."

And throughout her life, Munoz has always put her best effort forward.

Born and raised in Matamoros, Mexico, Munoz moved to the Valley in 1999 when she got married and settled in Donna. Eleven years ago, Munoz moved with her family to Harlingen, where her life would eventually change again.

Munoz had gone to college in Matamoros and worked toward a degree in Computer Information Systems. But Munoz never finished.

In 2010 the wife and mother of three decided it was time to go back to school. So without knowing any English, Munoz enrolled at Texas State Technical College and a couple of years later earned an Associate's in Math. Munoz is currently pursuing a second Associate's in Biology and has a clerical job with the college.

"It's been a difficult journey but I'm doing it for them," Munoz said of her children, now 11, 13 and 14 ears old.

"I really want to set a good example for them that if someone like me can do it, they can do whatever they want."

Munoz's relationship with TSTC started a year before becoming a student. In 2009, Munoz got a job on campus as a custodian. Unfortunately, her personal schedule conflicted with her job and a year later decided to quit and enroll as a student at TSTC.

"I didn't know any English whatsoever," Munoz said. "I learned how to speak English four years ago barely. But I've done ok. It was very hard but I got through it."

Munoz expects to graduate in December. She doesn't yet know what her next step will be but Munoz knows where she wants to end up.

"I want to teach," Munoz said. "I want to teach at the college level so I'll keep going to school."

In the meantime, Munoz will keep reminding herself and her kids to, "hechale ganas" every day.

"it's not easy (being a mother and student)," Munoz said. "We'll sit together at times and do our homework together. I help them with theirs and they'll help me with my English. I remind them every day that if I can go back to school without knowing any English, they can do whatever they want."

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