Texas Border Business
By Roberto Hugo González
RGV College’s recent celebration of its 15th anniversary marks a significant milestone in the field of medical and vocational education. The success story behind this educational institution is one filled with determination, vision, and commitment. Dr. Annabelle Palomo, the founding figure of RGV College, shared her inspiring journey during an exclusive interview, shedding light on the college’s growth, challenges, and triumphs.
The Birth of a Vision
Dr. Palomo’s passion for education was evident from her early career as a teacher, followed by her progression into administration. A young principal who eventually became an executive director for a school district, her lifelong devotion to education has been firm. The inception of RGV College came from Dr. Palomo’s realization that there was an unjust treatment of students in some educational sectors.
The spark that ignited RGV College came when a school, initially with only five students, went up for sale. Dr. Palomo made the brave decision to quit her public sector job, dedicating herself to pursuing her doctorate and establishing the college.
A Steady Growth
RGV College started modestly, offering programs for CNAs (Certified Nurse Assistants). From those humble beginnings, Dr. Palomo oversaw the expansion of the college’s offerings into various fields within the medical sector, including various Allied Health programs, Vocational Nursing, Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), and an Associate Degree in Physical Therapist Assistant program.
Around ten years into this journey, the institution rebranded from RGV Careers to RGV College, emphasizing its transformation into a fully accredited college. This period saw the establishment of the college’s associate programs, allowing vocational nurses to become RNs (Registered Nurses), marking a significant milestone.
Challenges and Triumphs
Dr. Palomo’s journey wasn’t without its challenges. The economic climate of 2008 was not particularly conducive to starting a new educational institution, and growth was difficult at times. However, Dr. Palomo credits faith, dedication, and strong mentorship as factors that kept her going.
Her spiritual connection, viewing God as the CEO of the college, helped her through the toughest times. Even during the pandemic, when many institutions faced difficulty, RGV College continued to thrive.
Making a Difference
With an average enrollment of 500 to 600 students, Dr. Palomo’s vision has turned into a thriving educational community. Her sense of accomplishment comes not just from the growth of the college but also from the difference she makes in students’ lives. Every graduation, every handshake, and every certificate is a symbol of that impact. Since, its inception, RGV College has graduated 1,000s of Licensed Vocational Nurses while maintaining a 90% plus passing rate with the State Board of Nursing NCLEX Exam. Thus, placing RGV College among the highest passing rates in the state.
Dr. Palomo’s personal connection to her students, her hands-on approach to curriculum writing, and her presence at every graduation reveals a deep-rooted commitment to her students’ success.
RGV College’s Remarkable Journey
RGV College is no ordinary educational institution. It stands as the light of hope and embodiment of dreams realized, as we discovered during our in-depth interview with its founder, Dr. Annabelle Palomo.
Dr. Palomo, with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, rose through the educational landscape, from teaching to administration, before finally laying the foundation for RGV College in 2008. Starting with just five Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) students, the college has since flourished, expanding its programs, and receiving numerous accreditations.
Upholding Standards: A First-Class Institution
When you step into RGV College, you’re greeted by a pristine environment. The institution’s appearance resonates with its values — cleanliness, discipline, and top-tier standards. Dr. Palomo believes that first impressions matter, which is represented in the aesthetics and orderliness of the institution.
The Backbone: A Dedicated Team
While Dr. Palomo has been the driving force behind the college, her journey has been supported by loyal staff, many of whom have been with her since the beginning. Mary Williams stands out with her 15-year tenure, while others like Adrianna Briseño have climbed the ranks, started as front office clerk, and is now leading as Director of Operations. Many of the college’s educators themselves have been part of RGV College’s student community, reinforcing the strength of the institution’s culture.
Vision for the Future: Growth and Expansion
In 15 years, RGV College has achieved remarkable growth, but Dr. Palomo has her sights set higher. With plans for a new three-story building and potential expansion to San Antonio, the future looks promising. But it’s not just about buildings and numbers; it’s about continuing to provide quality education and making a positive impact in the community.
Dr. Palomo’s daughter, Annika Rodriguez, might be gearing up to follow in her mother’s footsteps, bringing fresh energy and vision to the institution’s legacy.
Overcoming Obstacles: The Journey to Greatness
Every success story has its share of challenges. Dr. Palomo reflects on personal and professional hurdles, emphasizing the importance of perseverance and vision. From financial sacrifices to navigating the complexities of running an educational institution, her mantra has been about constant improvement and striving for excellence.
Making a Difference: Filling the Gap in the Healthcare Sector
RGV College’s contribution to the healthcare sector, especially during a time when nurses are in short supply, is commendable. With the production of 160 vocational nurses and 80 RNs in just the past year, RGV College is helping bridge the gap. These aren’t just numbers; they’re the evidence of the quality of education and dedication of the students and staff. Dr. Palomo proudly shares that RGV College students have the highest scores in the area.
A Legacy of Excellence: Leaving a Mark
Dr. Palomo’s story is one of determination, passion, and the belief that with hard work, any dream can be realized. From her humble beginnings in Alamo, Texas, she has risen to establish an institution that stands as a symbol of excellence in education. With partnerships and collaborations, RGV College aims to work hand-in-hand with other institutions to address shortages in the medical field and challenges in the community.
In celebrating 15 years of RGV College, we don’t just celebrate an institution; we celebrate a dream realized, a community built, and a legacy that promises to inspire many more in the years to come.