MIDLAND The road to an associate degree wasn’t easy for Anabel Rivas. She took a nontraditional path to college. She lived with her father in Mexico until the age of 16. They had a troubled relationship, and she was eventually put out of the house and lived on the streets of Mexico. However, this past December, Rivas graduated from Midland College (MC) with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Health Information Management and is now looking forward to entering MC’s nursing program in the fall.
A genuine caretaker, Rivas always wanted to become a nurse. She entered a nursing program in Mexico and worked there for three years.
“I went to nursing school in Mexico and got married,” she said. “We had financial problems. I became pregnant with my oldest child.”
School, work and raising a young family put stress on her marriage, resulting in divorce.
In search of a better life, Rivas eventually left Mexico with her two children when she was 20 years old, following her boyfriend from Mexico to Eagle Pass, Texas.
“Language was a barrier to becoming a nurse in the US,” she said. “When I moved to Eagle Pass, I worked in housekeeping at a hospital for four years. I had no English skills, two children and I worked full-time. As a result, I could not go to school and pursue my dream of becoming a nurse.”
Rivas’ relationship with her boyfriend ended poorly, and she moved to Midland three years ago from Eagle Pass. Alone and pregnant with her third child, she and her two children entered Safe Place of the Permian Basin, located in Midland.
“I had no money, no family support, no house,” Rivas explained. “It was just me, my children and God. It was very challenging.”
In the shelter, the staff would only speak to her in English, so she began taking English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at the Midland College Cogdell Learning Center. It was a first step toward her dream.
As Rivas learned English, she enrolled at Midland College in the Health Information Management program.
“I did not feel that my English was good enough to go into nursing,” she recalled. “So I decided to pursue a major where I could be close to that profession until my English improved.”
Her passion and love have always been nursing. A 2020 recipient of the Midland College Bill Pace Cogdell Scholarship, Rivas now has the resources to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.
Outreach & Bill Pace Cogdell Scholarship Coordinator Josie Samaguey understands the drive that brought Anabel Rivas to Midland College.
“Anabel has shown herself and her children that hard work, perseverance and faith are what it takes to accomplish any goal,” Samaguey said. “Her heartwarming personality goes hand in hand with the healthcare goal she is pursuing. I am so proud of Anabel.”
Once Rivas finishes her nursing degree, she plans to stay in Midland and raise her family.
“My children and I love it here, Rivas said. “Midland has been very supportive.”
Rivas said that she would give this advice to other students who have a dream and want to go to pursue higher education:
“Sometimes we have a fear of the future. We ask ourselves – what if I am not going to make it? We always have time – it passes anyway. There are consequences to the decisions we make in life. Education is a benefit for our children. If you want to make a better life for yourself and your children, education is the key.”