Your Past Doesn’t Define Your Future: Maria’s Story

“I wanted to give my daughters a good example.”

“I wanted to give my daughters a good example.”

Maria Betancourt is the oldest of seven children. This resulted in growing up in a very busy environment. She recalls that every morning she had to get herself up and get off to school on her own.

She learned to speak English at an early age, but her family frequently moved back and forth between Florida and Tyler, which made it hard to keep up in school.  With no one pushing her to go, she stopped going in the 10th grade.

Two years later, she thought “I want to try and get my GED and go to college.” So, she came to Literacy Council of Tyler. She attended for two months, but said she just was not motivated. Again, she stopped going and gave up on her high school credential.

Maria’s life became even busier after that.  She married her husband and began a family.  She earned her Basic Nurse Aide license and started working. She had not had the time to even think about going back to school until now. With two daughters looking up to her, she decided “I wanted to give my daughters a good example.”

She came back to LCOT in April of 2013. There, she met Miss Ashly. Coincidentally, it was her and her teacher’s first night of class. They immediately created a bond of respect. “Miss Ashly gets me,” Maria explained. “I get it when she teaches.” Her instructor talks about how hard Maria worked and how great a student she was. Maria had found the support she did not know she needed. She finished her GED in about six months and decided she wanted to keep moving further.

She is now enrolled in the 2014 college prep class that will begin in May, and is excited about starting college in the fall studying to be a nurse. She already has her Certified Nurse Aide license and currently works in that field. Her goal is to help people and save lives. Her personal goal is to have her four year old and eleven year old daughters look up to her. “I want them to see that their mom has a career and want that for themselves,” she said.

Maria has a lot of support at home these days.  Her husband believes in her.  Her parents are proud of what she has accomplished. As for Maria, she accepts responsibility for dropping out of high school. “It was my fault for not staying in school,” she states, but she has not let her past become her future. Maria is steadfast and determined to finish the college prep program, start college, and continue on her path to becoming a nurse.  In so doing, she is a great example of persistence for her daughters.

Dreaming and Succeeding: Tabatha Mullens’s Story

“The most important thing I could to tell anybody else is to not give up.” - Tabatha Mullens

“The most important thing I could to tell anybody else is to not give up.” – Tabatha Mullens

Thinking back to her high school days does not bring back fond memories of childhood friends, and supportive teachers for Tabatha Mullens.

Her family moved around a lot, and after having negative encounters with teachers, she decided to drop out in the 10th grade.  She soon started a family and by all accounts was doing fairly well.  She got married in 2005 and had five kids. But she wasn’t happy.  She yearned to get her high school diploma and train in the medical field and establish a career.  Before she could do this, she lost her mother to illness in 2009. She took on the responsibility of raising her 14 year old brother which left little time for herself.  And so for the next two years, getting her GED had to wait.

With much hesitation, she decided to call Literacy Council of Tyler in 2011.  With plans of just getting information, she was pleasantly surprised when she was met with a friendly voice on the other line who immediately signed her up for the next enrollment.  With the support of her family, she was able to start night classes in October.  Tabatha also took on the task of participating in the Dual Enrollment program in which she took Dental Assistant classes on the nights she was not in GED class. Tabatha excelled in both classes with almost perfect attendance.

Her experience of school was definitely changing.  “Mr. Jim and Mr. Leo are so nice and supportive,” she says. “I’ve learned so much from them”.

Tabatha received her Dental Assistance license in January 2013 and her GED in May 2013, right before her 29th birthday.  She currently works at a pediatric dental office in Tyler and loves what she does.  She is considering a career in dental hygiene and plans to continue her studies at Tyler Junior College in the Dental Hygiene program.  Now that she has her GED and Dental Assistant license, her job prospects are more promising.

She loves the fact that she can talk to her children about finishing school and going to college using herself as an example.

Her next goal is to get her husband back in school.