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Mother-Daughter Duo Achieves Educational Success Together at TSC

TSC alumni Abigail Hernandez (left) and Erica Esquivel, a mother-daughter duo, understood that their time at TSC was a crucial first step on their educational journeys. This journey led them to Texas A&M University-Kingsville, where they recently graduated with bachelor’s degrees in social work.

As a comprehensive community college, Texas Southmost College’s (TSC) mission is to help students improve their lives and create better opportunities through the power of higher education. One way this mission manifests itself is by giving students a platform to gain a valuable first step in earning their associate’s degree before deciding whether to continue pursuing their education elsewhere.

TSC Alumni Erica Esquivel and Abigail Hernandez, the mother-daughter duo, understood that their time at TSC was a crucial first step on their educational journeys. This journey led them to Texas A&M University Kingsville (TAMUK), where they recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work.
“My mother was adamant about the importance of education,” Esquivel remarked. “Coming from a working-class family with no other relatives living nearby, she worked tirelessly to take care of us from sunrise to sunset. She always emphasized that education was the key to a better life for us.”
Esquivel passed on this sentiment to her daughter, who enrolled at TSC shortly after earning her high school diploma. “I chose TSC because it was a school that I knew would ensure my success, as the professors care about each student,” shared Hernandez.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, creating an unexpected obstacle in Hernandez’s educational path. Her mother offered crucial support and encouragement. “I told her, ‘No, you don’t quit. We are all learning to live with uncertainty,'” Esquivel said. While she wasn’t surprised by her daughter’s determination to overcome the challenge, she was taken aback by her daughter’s condition – she would continue her studies only if her mother enrolled at TSC alongside her.
With both ladies now enrolled at TSC, they began studying hard to work toward their shared goal of earning their associate’s degrees in social work. As they progressed through semesters together, their plans were altered when representatives from TAMUK visited their class at TSC.

“I decided to continue my educational journey at Texas A&M Kingsville after two professors visited one of my senior social work classes to discuss their program,” recalled Hernandez. TAMUK representatives arranged for both women to visit their campus and attend a few social work classes.
While Hernandez prepared to transition to TAMUK full-time, Esquivel was hesitant, primarily due to transportation issues to Kingsville. Fortunately, their visit to TAMUK alleviated her concerns. “They explained the social work program’s flexibility, operating on a hybrid class model. It made it easier for me to attend as a commuter student, requiring in-person attendance only once a week.”

They made up their minds and decided to enroll with TAMUK upon completing their degrees at TSC.
“I relocated from San Benito to Kingsville and had to start from scratch, said Hernandez. “As a full-time worker and student, it was difficult to stay motivated as I was often pressed for time, but with family and faculty support, I could overcome these challenges.” Esquivel, who chose to stay in San Benito, found ways to navigate her unique challenges. “As a mother, full-time worker, and student, time management was difficult, but I managed by keeping a planner and relying on the support of my family,” she said.
After two more years of hard work and perseverance, both ladies reached the end of their associate degree journey, securing a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to earn their bachelor’s degrees simultaneously as mother and daughter. Even with this latest accomplishment, both ladies aren’t content to rest on their laurels – they are actively planning to check off the next box on their list of educational goals and earn their master’s degrees in social work from TAMUK.

In addition to gaining experience in their new social work careers, both ladies want to show struggling students that the sky is the limit as long as they’re willing to put in the time and effort.
“I tell students, ‘Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help because there are always resources available to you.’ I also urge them to establish a good rapport with their professors and administrators,” said Hernandez, with Esquivel encouragingly adding, “Never give up. The path is not easy, but it will all be worth it in the end.”

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