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Meet Maria Rincon, a U.S. Army veteran who is pursuing a degree in Bilingual Education at both Texas State Technical College (TSTC) and Texas A&M Kingsville. Not only is she a single mother and full-time student, she is also President of the Student Veterans Alliance Club at TSTC. Maria admits that she was afraid when she first arrived at her school’s Veterans Center, but when she realized the support she had from her fellow veterans and advisors, that fear soon dissipated.
Maria explains how the Student Veterans Alliance Club was there for her when she needed it most; not just in her academics, but in every challenge that crossed her path. From providing an avenue for tutoring when she needed help in a class, tooffering her a ride to school when her car broke down, and supporting her while she juggled a full-time schedule and a divorce – she credits the “great team of wonderful people” on her campusto her overall success.
SVA’s National Conference in San Antonio changed Maria's life. Her experience at the conference in 2015 inspired her goal to pursuea Masters degree in counselingso that she might help veterans like herself, just as her chapter did for her. “Help each other," she says, “never leave a brother or sister behind. If you are in a position to help other veterans, just do it.”
It is that kind of compassion and determination that earned Maria “Student Leader of the Year 2015” and most active member of her chapter, as well as “ of the Year” by Minority Women Veterans.
Veterans like Maria, who are inspired to pass the resources, support and advocacy they receivedduring their time in higher education forward, serve as the backbone to SVA’s mission.
In reflecting on the significance of Hispanic Heritage Month and her experience as a student veteran,Rincon urges everyone to:"embrace who you are, and enjoy what this nation has to offer. Education is the key to success. As a future educator I strongly believe in higher education. College has change my life in many ways and I believe that anything can be achieved through hard word and dedication.As a student veteran I have found my voice at TSTC's Veterans Center. My Hispanic heritage is another important part of who I am, and Hispanic Heritage Month gives us an opportunity to celebrate the culture and contributions of Hispanics to our nation."