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Alum Shares College Experience for Incoming Students

Friday, May 31, 2013
By Eladio Jaimez

DeniseDenise Guevara, a Texas State Technical College alum, was out to prove something. Mostly to herself.Guevara, A middle child, grew up in a modest home in Harlingen. Her parents were landscapers and her older siblings didn't go to college following high school and her younger siblings are still in public school.

So for the most part of her adult life, Guevara's been setting the bar for the rest of her family.

She recently spoke at an Upward Bound ceremony recognizing upcoming high school graduates that were also part of the Texas State Technical College Upward Bound program.

Upward Bound is a year-round program funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The focus of Upward Bound is to identify high school students that are first-generation college students or meet income guidelines. The goal then is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education, enroll in and graduate from institutions of higher learning.

Guevara came up through the same UB program at TSTC and credits the program mentors for fueling her desire to learn and pursue a degree in nursing.

Guevara graduated from Harlingen High School in 2006, completed her academic core at TSTC in 2008 and transferred to the University of Texas-Pan American and graduated as a registered nurse in 2010. She's since been working in the Emergency Room at Mission Regional Medical Center in Mission.

Guevara spoke of opportunity and what taking advantage of those opportunities has done for her.

"Being with Upward Bound, I was able to travel and see different universities," Guevara said. "Without it (UB), I would not be aware of college and all the different opportunities that are out there to help us succeed."

TSTC Upward Bound students are required to attend one summer session at TSTC following their high school graduations. Guevara was among the first class of UB students to come through TSTC and enrolled that summer of 2006 and stayed to complete her academic core.

Guevara always knew she wanted more out of life and the push and awareness of a higher education she didn't receive at home came from her Upward Bound mentors.

While at TSTC, Guevara received support from the VIDA program and was a STAAR Scholar.

"I received a lot of help to fund my education here and at Pan Am," Guevara said. "My parents couldn't help. We come from a poor background and they still had my two younger siblings to support. So I was on my own."

But Guevara pressed on. And while communication failed at times between Guevara and her parents, the 25-year old turned her parents' struggles into her own motivation to finish school.

"Seeing my parents work so hard every day and coming home tired was all the motivation I needed," Guevara explained. "My mom would tell me to keep going to school if I didn't want to follow in their footsteps."

Her older brother and sister didn't go to college immediately after high school, although her sister recently graduated from TSTC.

Guevara has two younger siblings of 15 and 13-years old. And while Guevara lives and spends most of her time in the upper Valley these days, she's very much involved in her family's life. Especially with her little brother and sister, from buying them clothes for school to school supplies.

But her biggest impact on her younger siblings is her actions.

"Hopefully I've showed them it is possible to go to college and there are different opportunities out there," Guevara explained as she fought back tears. "If I can do it, they can do it too."

Guevara plans to continue her education and is even contemplating going to medical school.

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