Special for Texas Border Business
BROWNSVILLE, Texas – For the Osorio family, Texas Southmost College is the family’s home away from home with mother, father, and two sons attending the college at the same time.
Although their road has had numerous bumps and detours, they are all finding success, and for Maria Osorio also a second chance at life.
Maria and her husband Pablo Osorio are students in TSC’s Paralegal Studies program.
Both Maria, 44, and Pablo, 48, are expected to earn associate degrees in August and December, respectively.
“This has been quite the transition for our entire family,” said Maria. “This is a journey that started a while back and I’m so proud of my family’s strength, adaptability, and support.”
Maria is a retired U.S. Army veteran. She served two decades and three deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After her third tour in 2012, Maria was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“On top of moving my family around while in the Army and transitioning back into civilian life, we were also fighting for my life,” she said. “My diagnosis put a lot on hold for everyone, from education to careers.”
For Pablo, a retired police officer, who served 10 years, he took this time to help his family through the deployments and cancer diagnosis, and to be there for his wife one day and one step at a time through treatments and surgeries.
“I’m so proud of my family for overcoming everything we have,” said Pablo. “The opportunities we have found here at TSC is the beginning of new chapters for all of us.”
The Osorios said they have had an invaluable experience in TSC’s Paralegal Studies program and various opportunities that are setting them up for success.
Maria has been cancer-free since 2015 and said the experiences she gained while in the Paralegal Studies program and through a five-month internship at a local law firm, has led her to find employment before graduating.
“I’m currently a federal employee, applying what I learn in the classroom in the real world,” she said. “TSC was my jumpstart and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.”
Pablo has also gained employment before graduating although the current COVID-19 crisis has thrown an obstacle in his path – a furlough.
It was his internship with the Michael Gonzalez Law Firm that led to his position with the Annie Gonzalez Law Firm assisting with immigration, social security, and bankruptcy cases.
Even though there is no set date of when he will return, or when court cases will resume, he said he still feels fortunate to have the opportunity waiting for him.
“I sometimes still can’t believe where I am today because of TSC. It all seems surreal,” he said. “I have the chance at a second career, to help others and I feel fulfilled.”
In fact, the Osorios feel especially thankful for the training they are receiving at TSC because it is giving them the confidence they need to pursue careers that will allow them to make a positive impact in the world.
Maria plans to continue her education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science, while Pablo’s ultimate goal is to become a criminal lawyer.
For now, they are focused on completing the Paralegal Studies program, celebrating their recent TSC Criminal Justice graduate and son Emmanuel Osorio and supporting their other TSC Computer Science student and son Rafael de Los Santos.
“I’ve always been proud to have my parents at the college with me,” said Emmanuel. “It’s great seeing them pursue their dreams. We’re all very proud of each other. We’ve seen each other fall and rise, teaching us to never give up and to fight the good fight. This is an exciting time for our family, and I couldn’t be happier.”
The Osorios agree they try to keep family and school life separate, but one thing is for sure, they push each other to be better.
“We’re competitive with each other, especially Maria and I,” said Pablo. “But this also teaches our children that anything is possible and if we can do it, so can they.”
Maria added, “As a parent, you want to be a positive example for your children,” she said. “And I want them to see that it’s not in our nature to give up, it’s important to help others and that TSC is not our stopping point. It’s only the beginning.”