Texas Southmost College took college mathematics tutor and student Delia Hernandez from a first-generation high school graduate to a first-generation college graduate – an achievement she never thought possible.
“I’ll be honest, I never planned on going to college. I was going to move to Mexico with my dad and let him dictate my future,” said the Brownsville native. “I never applied myself as a student in high school and not knowing what I wanted to do discouraged me from even thinking about it.”
But in 2019, the 22-year-old graduated from TSC with an associate degree in general studies. She’s currently completing prerequisites to transfer to a four-year university as a mathematics major.
“As a first-generation college student and first-generation U.S. citizen, it’s sometimes lonely because it’s hard for family to understand the college process,” said Hernandez. “But I had some great mentors my last years in high school and now at TSC who have helped me get to where I am today.”
She calls TSC her “steppingstone to success” because this is where she grew up, learned about determination and dedication and realized what she could do.
In fact, it was her TSC Algebra Instructor Apolinar Zapata, Ph.D., who first noticed her potential, reached out and recommended her for the tutoring position.
Hernandez said this was the first time she felt like she could achieve anything.
“He saw something in me that I didn’t,” said Hernandez. “He believed in me and that’s what I needed. Becoming a tutor has done more for me than anyone will ever know.”
With a perfect 4.0 grade-point average, Hernandez has left a lasting impression on her instructors, supervisors and those she tutors.
“I see Delia succeeding in whatever she pursues,” said Michael Espinoza, TSC Learning Lab supervisor. “She has grit and a strength of communicating well with others. She’s encouraging to all students she meets and is driven to improve everyone’s understanding of math.”
Although tutoring was Hernandez’s first job and teaching experience, she knows teaching and helping others is what she wants to do for the rest of her life.
“TSC isn’t just another college, it’s the college where people find themselves,” she said. “I really doubted myself, but TSC has been the blessing I needed. I now see what I can accomplish and have a future to look forward to. I’m making something of myself because of TSC.”
As a tutor, Hernandez’s goal is to always encourage those she works with the way others at TSC have done for her.
“I always tell the students I work with that college is not a race,” she said. “It’s not about how long it takes you to finish, it’s about finding your passion, setting goals and achieving those goals. That’s success.”
Ultimately, Hernandez aspires to be a college math professor who inspires and facilitates growth among the students she teaches.
“I’m motivated to keep learning and helping others learn,” she said. “I have a different mindset about education. I want to break down barriers for our students here in the Rio Grande Valley and help them realize that anything is possible.”
Visit TSC’s Learning Labs and tutoring services for more information.