Parents Share Advice for College-Bound Students

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WESLACO - One Rio Grande Valley family said they don’t regret letting their children leave home to attend their university of choice.

Texas GEAR UP recently spoke with the Montalvo family. Domingo and America Montalvo are the parents of two former GEAR UP students. Both children went against mom and dad’s wishes and attended college outside of the Valley.

“We would tell my son, ‘Why do you want to go so far away to get an education, when you can get the same education here in the Valley?’ And he was set on going to Texas A&M,” said the mother. “We had to let him go.”

Michelle Montalvo also followed in her brother’s footsteps.  After high school, she attended The University of Texas at San Antonio until her graduation in 2013.

“For me, it was all about following in my brother’s footsteps… The whole environment, the spirit and the traditions,” Montalvo said.  “I wanted that, just like he did. That was my motivation.”

Her brother Domingo is now a dad himself and said he now understands how difficult it is to let go.

“As a parent now, it puts things in perspective as to what my parents went through. From dropping off our son for the first time in daycare, it was a difficult day,” Montalvo said. “So I can imagine what my parents went through when they dropped me off at A&M for the very first time.”

Domingo and America Montalvo said it was tough to let their first child leave the nest. But when it came to Michelle, they said it wasn’t as tough.

“We got used to the fact that he was in college and he was making a better life for himself. It was easier for us to let Michelle leave to college,” said the Montalvos. “It was easier for us to let her make her own decisions where she wanted to go, because we saw that we survived.”

Domingo said the toughest part about leaving was convincing his parents to let him go. He said he had to educate them on the process so they would allow him to step outside their comfort zone.

“I found a lot of things I did not know about myself while at A&M, while being away from home. I took on two jobs while going to school full-time,” he said. “I think that’s where I developed my work ethic and to always stretch yourself to be able to get to what you want.”

Domingo’s parents said GEAR UP also made it easy for them.

“Before Mingo started talking about going to college, we had no idea what college life would be until we started going to conferences with the GEAR UP program,” said the parents. “We started getting a little bit more information about what is was going to be like.”

Domingo said it’s important parents understand that life will come to their children sooner or later.

“These kids will learn so much from being out on their own, from their work ethic to experiencing different things. Working two jobs to making ends meet and balancing your checkbook,” he said. “There are a lot of things outside of the classroom that you learn being out there.”