Student of the Week: Cruz Mata

Returning to school after more than 20 years, Cruz Mata says her experiences in life have shaped her approach to education and where she wants to be in the future.

Raising a family and also spending years volunteering her time at Knapp Medical Center in Weslaco have enabled her to decide on her path in life.

Born in San Juan, Cruz said she was a migrant in high school. She left school after she became married during her senior year, three months before she was slated graduate.

“I never was able to go back to school. I had kids, and I put my school on the backburner,” Cruz said. “I eventually had four kids, and now three of them are in college. Two attend STC in Weslaco and the other goes to the UTRGV. My husband then asked me why I shouldn’t go back to finish school.”

After being out of school for more than 20 years, Cruz said she returned to receive her GED at STC’s Continuing Education program in January 2017. She takes her last exam this month, and plans to move on to eventually obtain a degree in medical billing and coding.

“My experience at STC has been wonderful,” she said. “I started her not knowing anything about computers, I got on their website and I noticed their Continuing Education program. I called and they set me up with an appointment. I went through the application process from there, and with the support of my family I took it from there.

“My kids tell me that they have to push themselves hard because I’m right there with them,” she said. “We have to push ourselves, and my youngest child who is barely going into high school sees all of us working as hard as we can. We are all role models to him.”

Top accomplishment:

“It was working to get my GED and eventually continue to get my career. Here at STC, they are helping me and taking me step by step because they understand how long I have been out of school. They are pushing me in the right direction.”

“I would like to tell students who are in my position that I know it’s hard to go back, but you can’t let fear stop you. It’s hard as a parent to juggle school, life and a family, but it’s possible. You have to get out there. Get information first and then go from there.”

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