BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Texas Southmost College Teacher Education program graduate Mireya Torres is proof that an associate degree will help you get ahead, even in the middle of a pandemic. She immediately received a promotion at work when she graduated in May 2020.
The 21-year-old is employed by Maximus, a federal call center that deals with health insurance. Not only did her degree help her obtain a promotion, but the remote learning experience at TSC during the spring semester proved beneficial.
“Since I graduated, I was promoted to train people,” said Torres. “Now, I’m teaching new hires and I also do virtual trainings for personnel to work from home. Before I was stuck at home working and attending TSC classes. It was hard and it took a while, but I got used to it. Now I’m physically at work due to my promotion.”
Torres is enjoying the ability to teach while being able to navigate safely in her work environment. Her company implemented strict safety protocols on the use of facial coverings and social distancing while in the building.
She admits that remote learning at the beginning of the pandemic had its challenges, but was able to overcome them thanks to her classmates and instructors.
“It was very sad at first because I knew I was going to miss out on stuff like the Play Day at the Zoo, and it was hard to adapt to online classes, at first,” said Torres. “We would all talk to each other and nobody could get used to remote learning. Our instructor had a Zoom meeting with all of us one day to see how to help and motivate us. In that one meeting, everyone got it all out and it snapped us back into it. We never looked back.”
Torres became so engaged at TSC that she joined the Teacher Education Play Advocates (TEPA) Club and participated in several on- and off-campus events such as the Día de los Muertos parade, Play Day at the Zoo, Dr. Seuss Festival at TSC, Law Enforcement Expo, and Read3, an H-E-B sponsored early childhood literacy program.
“I really loved it,” said Torres. “I didn’t expect that at TSC. I expected being in the background, going to class, going home and doing homework. I never expected being so involved. Everyone is so motivating and friendly that you want to try. No one will tell you that you can’t do something. It was a really good college experience for me.”
With her first college experience, an associate degree and a promotion in hand, Torres is continuing her education locally with a full class load at a four-year university. To see her now, no one would think that she almost didn’t go to college.
“I really didn’t want to go to school, but a friend of mine said she was going to TSC and explained that it would be fun, you do a lot at TSC and they have smaller classes,” she said. “One day, I enrolled and decided I’m going to do this now. As soon as I finished my first semester, I realized I liked it, it was something I could do, and I stayed until I got my associate degree.”