IDEA-U: Student Stories


Student Stories

Luis Muniz is a clinical instructor and healthcare professional living with his family in Brownsville, TX. He recently earned his Bachelor of Arts in Healthcare Management in nine months’ time!

Student Story: What degree are you earning and what is motivating you? Where do you currently live and how long have you been working with your College Completion Advisor (CCA)?

My motivation was always and will always be my family: Silvia, my wife, and Axel Andres, my son. I worked with my College Completion Advisor, Monica for about nine months.  During this time, my CCA was extremely helpful; from weekly meetings to motivational texts. She was keenly aware of the support I needed in order to succeed.

I wanted to further my career as a healthcare professional in order to have more doors open for me. I currently hold an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Laboratory Technology Degree with a Certification through American Medical Technologists (AMT) and I recently obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Healthcare Management with a Concentration in Global Perspectives. I am a Certified Medical Laboratory Technician with a little over five years of experience, with expertise in hematology/oncology and clinical Chemistry. I have about a year of experience working with students and other healthcare professional instructors. My communication skills are exceptional. I am also bilingual, which I know that speaking, reading, and writing fluent Spanish is necessary in the Rio Grande Valley. I am ecstatic to have finished my BA degree!

Q. Tell us about your educational journey: when did it begin for you?

My educational journey was a rollercoaster. I wanted to pursue a career in nursing, but it didn’t happen. So I then pursued my career in laboratory and succeeded. I started the Medical Laboratory Technology Associates’s Degree, in the fall of 2013 and graduated in the spring of 2015. I got hired at a cancer center in Harlingen, TX when I was still a student in December 2014. I started working as a part-time laboratory technician, gaining experience in the field. After a couple of years of working at the cancer center, something else caught my attention. That something else was health science education. I then sought out information regarding the requirements for becoming a certified teacher in Texas; I wanted to teach high school.  It was then I realized I needed a Bachelor’s degree to teach.  Sometime later, I then bumped into a friend, a Radiation Therapist, who told me about the program.  I was immediately interested. She told me, “You’re going to love it! The CCA in Weslaco is super nice and helpful! You won’t lose anything by applying!” Sure enough, she was right! I did not lose anything in applying, in fact, I gained my Bachelor’s degree.

Q. How has working with a College Completion Advisor helped you?

Working with a College Completion Advisor has helped me immensely! Whenever I’d feel bummed out because I didn’t get a competency mastered on the first try, she would encourage me to tackle my feedback point by point to get to mastery.  I specifically remember in our weekly meetings, Monica would always ask me, “Is there anything else I can do to help you succeed? You know you can come to me for anything. Remember, I am here for you. You’re not alone! You CAN DO THIS!” Those words of encouragement helped me tremendously throughout my journey. And yes, I highly recommend working with a college success coach to others! They are always going to be there for you, no matter what!


Student Stories

Anita earned her Associates’ degree at Southern New Hampshire University through IDEA-U in seven months. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications in September 2020. She lives in San Antonio Texas and has been a member of the IDEA-U community since December 2018.

What is your biggest motivation?

I have always had a desire to attend college and I wanted to prove to myself that I can do whatever I put my mind to.  Learning never came easy to me, but my tenacity and determination have proven to be the secrets to my success.

Q. Tell us about your experience with IDEA-U.

From the moment I first spoke to my College Completion Advisor, she was so personable and excited to help me in pursuing my dream. She made me feel this was extremely possible to obtain. I was so nervous since I wanted this so badly. She asked me what were my fears and what would hold me back?  I told her I was in special education when I was in elementary school and I believe I may have dysgraphia. Also, I have a difficult time testing and I have been out of school for 30 years. She eased my worries by letting me know this is a self-paced, competency-based program. Her compassion, patience, and guidance have been indispensable throughout my journey!

Q. What is your biggest motivator for earning your Bachelor’s degree?

After earning my Associates’s degree I knew it was possible for me to obtain this goal.  The biggest motivators were my desire to have better employment opportunities.  I also want to show my college-aged children that if you give it your best, you can accomplish your goals. No one knows what the future holds so being prepared to count on yourself by being self-sufficient is so important, especially as a woman of color.

Q. How has your College Completion Advisor helped you?

My College Completion Advisor (CCA) is one of my greatest cheerleaders, coach, but most importantly a friend. My CCA provides a safe space to talk about what is happening in my life, is compassionate, and wants to see me succeed. When my personal life has taken a twist or a turn my CCA has been supportive and helped me work through it. Balancing college and daily life is hard, but being able to do our school work at our own pace makes a huge difference.


Student Stories

Desiree is working towards her goal of becoming an entrepreneur. She is motivated to reach her goal by modeling her dedication for higher education to her three children (and another on the way!). She lives in Brownsville, Texas and has been a member of the IDEA-U community since January of 2020.

Q.  How has working with a College Completion Advisor helped you?

Monica is always there to assist me with questions I have about my projects.  It’s wonderful to have someone lean on so I can make appropriate progress in my studies.


Q . What are your goals for the future?

The degree I am currently pursuing is the Associate of Arts in General Studies with a focus in Business. Once this is accomplished I will go on to obtain my Bachelor of Arts in Business degree. My goals in the future are to open and run my own business. I am not sure if I want to do this in the food or other industry. Once I have my business degree, doors will open up and I will be able to choose what direction I want to go.


Q . What advice do you have for stopped out students who are considering going back to school?

The advice I would give someone who wants to go back to school is to make sure you are dedicated and ready to change your life. In order to succeed, you must be consistent and ready to sacrifice free time for your studies. Being a mother of three and one on the way, working full time, and going to school, my evenings don’t consist of watching TV or playing on my phone. From the time I wake up, to the time I got to sleep, I am constantly preoccupied with thinking about my kids, work, personal health, and school. My children and work are my motivation because I want my children to know anything is possible if they just put work and effort into it. My work motivates me because even though what I do is pretty much run a company I want to make the income that I deserve. To anyone who wants to better themselves, this is a great way to do it.  At IDEA-U you can go to school online and have the freedom to choose what time you do your schoolwork.  Anything is possible if you put your mind to it!


Student Stories

The degree that I am pursuing is a Bachelor’s degree in Communication with a concentration in Business. My motivation is my family, as well as bettering myself. My sons are growing up and I want them to be proud of their mom and have the life that I did not have. They were and are still my biggest motivation to complete my Bachelor’s degree. I also want them to see that if their mom is able to continue her education, they can too.

Where do you currently live and how long have you been working with your College Completion Advisor?

 I currently live in Palmview, TX.  I have been working with Ms. Grace Hernandez, who is my CCA since I started with the Academic Onboarding in November 2019.


Where did it begin for you? Why did you decide to go to college?

It began with my sister’s friend who is an IDEA-U alum. I called IDEA-U and got the information that I needed and decided it was time to go back and finish. I chose to enroll in college because I want to pursue my passion for baking and open my own bakery. I also want to make my family proud and show my children that with hard work and dedication anything is possible!

Why did you decide to leave school?

When I stopped out, I was going through personal issues and I really didn’t have any desire to continue with school.

Why did you decide to return to school? What changed?

I decided to come back to college because I wanted to be a positive influence on my children and prove to them that anything is possible at any age. My mindset shifted and I decided that I didn’t want to be a campus secretary for the rest of my life. I know my potential and I  know I am capable of completing my bachelor’s degree in order to be the best me possible.

How has working with a College Completion Advisor helped you?

Working with my CCA, Grace, has helped me tremendously! I have the support and encouragement from her. It made it so much easier because I know that if I am struggling with academics or my personal schedule, I can reach out to her and she is always willing to help. Honestly, there have been times that  I have wanted to quit and she is always been there for me. She did not give up on me. I can honestly say that I am a step closer to achieving my goal because of her. 

Q. What are your goals for the future?

My goals are to graduate with a BA in Communications with a concentration in Business. I want to open my own bakery in Palmview, TX. I want the community to experience my baking and see what my business has to offer.


What advice do you have for stopped out students who are considering going back to school?.

It’s NEVER too late to go back and conquer your dreams and goals. The sky’s the limit! It’s hard to start again, but once you start, and see those mastered projects, it will give you the motivation and extra push to continue to strive for the goals you set for yourself.



Student Stories

I am obtaining an Associates’s degree in General Studies with a Concentration in Business. My ultimate goal is to receive a Bachelor’s degree.  My motivation to obtain my college education is the job stability factor that comes with a college education.  Even though I have a career-conditional position, it is always a good thing to have my education to fall back on. 

Q.  Where did it begin for you? Why did you decide to go to college?

My current college journey to obtain a Bachelor’s degree began in 2017.  I am currently a Border Patrol Agent working at the Falfurrias Station in the Rio Grande Valley Sector for a total of 11 years.  While stationed at the Rio Grande Valley Sector Headquarters, I was able to see other colleagues obtain their college degrees.  I was told that I needed to have a backup plan because life happens and the need for a college education for when I retire from my current profession will help me obtain a career in a different line of work.  With the changing times of how companies and businesses nowadays are requiring a college degree, I finally decided to return to school and obtain one. I took the first step toward contacting the director of IDEA-U, and I am now enrolled and I am working toward obtaining my degree.

Q . Why did you decide to leave school?

I first started my college attempt in 2009 when I attended the local university in Edinburg, TX.  I could not afford to take a full term, so I only registered for one class.  I had no guidance on how a traditional college worked or what I needed to do in order to be successful in my first year in college.  I ended up dropping the class because I was struggling with the class content and I had no idea that there were free tutors on campus that I could use. No one was able to explain each step that I would have to take in order to achieve my goal to obtain a college education. 

Q . Why did you decide to return to school? What changed?

After I took the first step of contacting IDEA-U, I was granted a tour of the facility in Weslaco, TX.  I met current students and CCA’s.  I saw first hand how IDEA-U really does everything it can to help students obtain their college degrees. The facility has flexible hours which helps my situation due to my hectic work schedule and family at home.  I really felt confident in how the director assessed my work and home situation and explained how my path forward toward reaching my goal was achievable.  I felt confident that this time, my college experience would be different.  I felt comfortable going back to school.

Q . How has working with a College Completion Advisor helped you?

My assigned CCA is Patti Montemayor.  Patti has been very helpful and knowledgeable from the get-go.  She was the initial director/contact that I made contact with to learn more about the program.  Patti has made my college return stress-free as possible.  Patti has helped me learn how to cite as well as to answer any questions I was struggling with regarding my assignments.  Whenever I have a problem, no matter what time of day it is, Patti is there to help me resolve it. 

Q. What are your goals for the future?

My goals for the future are to obtain my bachelor’s degree after I obtain my associate’s degree.  I am also looking forward to starting a family with my wife of 8 years.

Q. What advice do you have for stopped out students who are considering going back to school?

My advice to anyone considering going back is to just take the big leap and start. IDEA-U has so many resources and support staff that are there to help you every step of the way.  The academic onboarding process not only helps you refresh on math, reading, and writing but also adjusts your family to understand that a small sacrifice of 12 hours per week is a small price to pay to finally go back to college and obtain a college education.

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