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Students Earn GED Through HEP

Saturday, August 3, 2013
By Eladio Jaimez

HEPAt some point, Dario Aguilera, 42, figured that life had more to offer.

Growing up in the Harlingen-San Benito area, Aguilera was raised as a farmworker. Aguilera traveled across Texas and to Florida looking for work with his grandparents. But as he grew older, Aguilera said he stopped enjoying the work.

On Saturday at the Culture Arts Center at Texas State Technical College, Aguilera was one of 72 individuals that earned their GEDs through the High School Equivalency Program (HEP).

HEP is a federal program funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Migrant Education. Since its inception at TSTC, HEP continues to successfully prepare and graduate students from its program, targeting migrant farmworkers.

Aguilera was one of two students to take the podium and share his thoughts with his graduating class.

“After years of struggling to make ends meet, I decided to finish my dream” said Aguilera, who dropped out from Los Fresnos High School in 1990. “HEP helped me prepare to take the GED exam. HEP has a great teaching and counseling staff that have also prepared me to enroll in college.”

Aguilera’s dream was only half fulfilled. The GED was his first accomplishment. Aguilera is no pursuing a degree from TSTC.

By the time of the graduation ceremony, Aguilera was already enrolled in the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology (ACT) Program.

“I want to earn my certificate and then an Associate’s of Applied Science,” Aguilera said. “My goal is to go work for a company that can offer me job security and benefits.”

But his top priority is leading by example when it comes to his family.

“I want to be a role model for my sons,” he said.

Aguilera was one of 13 GED graduates that were already enrolled in college or vocational training.

Rosalia A. Sosa was also enrolled in college and was awarded a CAMP (College Assistance Migrant Program) Scholarship.

Sosa’s story is similar to most students that are seeking a second chance. She dropped out of Rio Hondo High School at a young age because she was pregnant. She went on to work in a packing plant in Georgia. But like Aguilera, Sosa knew there was more to life. And for the sake of her daughters, decided to pursue her GED and more.

“I knew that I didn’t want to work in the packing shed the rest of my life,” Sosa said. “I wanted a better future for my daughters and myself, so I went back to school.”

With help from HEP, Sosa completed her GED training in three weeks.

“I’m determined to get my Bachelor’s in Nursing,” Sosa said. Not only do I have the opportunity to work in what I love, I also have the opportunity to provide a better future for my children. I want to give thanks to HEP and all the individuals who made it possible for me to receive my GED and continue my education.”

For more information on HEP, go to http://www.tstc.edu/harlingenhep.

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