Former Migrant Worker Credits College Preparation for Success

Posted: Updated: Aug 11, 2016 05:48 PM

WESLACO - A former migrant worker credits GEAR UP for helping her achieve success.

As a girl, Veronica Mares was a migrant worker. “When I was growing up... I wished that I didn't have to go to work in the summers and do all of that,” she recalled. “But now as an adult... I see it as everything has a silver lining. And maybe if I hadn't been put in that position, I wouldn't see how fortunate I am now.”

She told us the experience motivated her to do better. She was also encouraged to defy low expectations.

Mares remembered being looked down on because she came from a poor community. “Other people from other communities have the expectation that you are less capable of succeeding. But in reality that should give you the motivation to prove them wrong,” she explained.

Today, Mares is a successful speech language pathologist. She graduated from Hidalgo High School in 2006 and the University of Texas - Austin in 2009.

“I was very prepared for college,” she said. “I graduated in three years as opposed to four, and I was able to pursue my master’s after that.”

She attributes that GEAR UP and dual enrollment classes.

“GEAR UP was a big part of me growing up, when we started learning about what college was and what you were interested in doing once you got there,” Mares told us. “I really can't see how I could have done as much as I did without GEAR UP.”

The UT graduate encourages parents to let their children go to the college of their choice, even if it means letting them go for just a little while. She said, “As a parent myself to a 2-year-old, I can imagine how hard it is to let your child go... especially to a different city, a different state. But I was very lucky in that my mom really supported that. … We missed each other very much, but she knew it was for my benefit.”

Mares is a Gates Millennial Scholar, so her family didn’t have to worry about paying for her college education. To qualify, she wrote an essay that was close to her heart.

She said, “In submitting my essays, I focused a lot on my experience in growing up and all of the challenges that I faced. I think it’s good that you convey that when you are submitting the applications, so that they can see where you are from… what you have been through because that shows them that you are capable of doing more.”