Adriana Mendez: Dreams do Come True
Adriana Mendez had big dreams. She was living in a small town in southern Mexico and wanted an education, but her parents thought otherwise.
“At 15, my parents forbade me to study,” she explained. “They thought it was time for me to learn how to do chores at home and help them with my two little siblings. But I always wanted something more in my life.”
At 16, the family moved to DuPage County to be near relatives. Adriana was not allowed to attend school. “I had to work to help my parents support our family. I started working at a paper manufacturer making the minimum wage. I was also trying to learn English. One day at work, I saw some English as a Second Language (ESL) books in the garbage. I picked them up to study.”
According to Adriana, at the age of 28 things “changed for good. I became a mother and my little one gave me motivation to continue to pursue my dreams.”
A friend told her about PRC and Adriana began taking free classes at People’s Resource Center (PRC). “I had to study until 3:00 in the morning because it was the only time I had available. It was not easy at all, but I never gave up.”
She spent every Saturday morning at St. Paul Lutheran Church with volunteer Luciano Rodriguez. They worked together to learn math and study for her high school equivalency test (GED). She studied for one year at PRC and passed the test in Spanish in 2012. She credits Luciano for her good grade on the math portion of the test.
“After the GED, I enrolled in an ESL program at College of DuPage (COD). Getting the GED opened many doors for me. I was able to get scholarships to COD every semester and I have been there for three years.
“PRC was there for me all the time,” Adriana continued, “because I always got help from the tutors on all my classes. It did not matter which subject I was taking. The people also helped me with other things like writing a resume so I could apply for other positions.”
“And I visited [former Director of Adult Learning and Literacy] Maryanna Milton for English tutoring. Thanks to her, I was always successful in my English assignments.”
Adriana is currently working toward an Associates in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Computer Information Systems. “I have completed 36 credits and am an honor student. I was also selected to prepare and give a speech for the 2014 GED graduation to 500 people. I still work 40 hours a week to support my daughter.”
After working in manufacturing as a machine operator for 12 years, Adriana recently received a promotion. “I am now a Quality Assurance person in the Information Services department. I am so happy because after working so hard in Computer Information System classes, I am finally seeing results. I hope I can be a computer programmer one day.
“I have a lot of goals in my life. The biggest is to continue my studies, earn my AAS degree and then transfer to a university. My goal is to learn, to become more professional. I want to be an example to my daughter. I want to show her that education is the best path to success in life.
“I have learned that nothing is impossible. I am ready to make my dream a reality.”