For the past two years, respiratory care major Clarissa Martínez has been commuting close to 100 miles a day from Raymondville to Brownsville to attend Texas Southmost College, and is a semester away from completing her degree.
“I really didn’t plan on going into respiratory care when I came to TSC, but I heard a lot about the program and it made me curious,” said Martínez, a Raymondville High School graduate. “I learned from instructors and other students that respiratory care was in high demand and that it was a good field to get into.”
Respiratory care therapists treat people with health care issues that affect the cardiopulmonary system such as asthma, pneumonia, emphysema and cardiovascular disorders.
The respiratory care field resonated with Martínez, whose grandfather passed away due to pneumonia. After further researching the respiratory care field, she decided it was for her and applied to the challenging program.
However, the program wasn’t her only challenge.
Prior to her enrollment at TSC, Martínez was faced with financial and geographical challenges that could’ve derailed her from pursuing her education.
Working minimum wage jobs since she was 16, Martínez and her family relied on her income to help pay the bills and make ends meet. However, her income was hurting her more in the short term because she wasn’t eligible for enough financial aid to pay for her education. The money she earned at work wasn’t enough to pay the difference.
With the support of her parents, Martínez decided to stop working and was able to get full financial aid.
Through a friend, she found out about the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA) program and applied for additional assistance to supplement her financial aid. Martínez qualified and she received enough assistance from the VIDA program to make up the difference.
“Its been a huge weight off my back, and my parents’ back,” Martínez said. “I don’t have to worry if I have transportation, if I have gas, or that I’m going to miss class. VIDA has helped me a lot.”
The VIDA program helped Martínez bridge the financial gap. Now, she’s only a few months away from graduation.
“VIDA helped me out with my tuition, books if I needed it, and even my gas,” said the 22-year-old respiratory care major. “Without it, I guess I would’ve continued working and I wouldn’t have been able to go school. Luckily, VIDA helped me and I’m almost done.”
What does TSC mean to you?
“TSC is like a family tradition to me. My brothers came here and I continued it.”
What’s your dream?
“My dream is to finish college with my associate degree, continue my education and eventually get my master’s degree.”
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