Luz Meza had to read her letter of acceptance to Victoria College’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program twice before she could believe it.
“My mom handed me the letter,” Meza recalled. “We already had the talk. She said, ‘You know, it’s OK if you don’t get accepted.’ I read it and had to make sure it was my name on it. It was the best surprise ever.”
It was also a reward for Meza’s courageous leap of faith. Meza was 24 years old and living in Guadalajara, Mexico, when her mother, Imelda Marroquin, convinced her to come to the United States and begin a new life.
“I was working and minding my own business in Mexico when my mom called me and said I needed to come here,” Meza said. “She and one of her friends had been going out to schools and came across a handout with information on Victoria College’s PTA Program. She told me I had to try it.”
Meza was convinced and came to Victoria with very little command of the English language. She spent her first two years at Victoria College completing her prerequisite courses while working on her communication skills.
“The language was the biggest barrier at first,” said Meza, who often carried a cross-translation dictionary everywhere she went. “I needed a lot of work on my writing. Everyone was so helpful and welcoming at Victoria College. I never felt any discrimination at VC because I had a hard time speaking the language. That was big for me.”
Once Meza became more comfortable with her communication skills and completed her prerequisites, she was confronted with new challenges upon entering the PTA Program.
“I had problems trying to change my immigration status,” Meza said. “The whole immigration process kept getting delayed. My interview finally came, and it happened to be right in the middle of my PTA clinical rotations.”
The COVID-19 pandemic was also an obstacle to overcome.
“It was inconvenient and a distraction,” said Meza, who was inducted into Victoria College’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa and the National Society of Leadership and Success. “The program is tough already. You really have to have a passion for it to make it through. But our class became like a family. We had our good days and bad days. But we really supported each other, and I was able to build some great friendships.”
Meza, 28, has already been hired at the Victoria Pain & Rehab Center. She walked the stage at VC’s Virtual Commencement on Saturday with her mother in attendance.
“It’s funny that she had me come here,” Meza said. “She was my motivation. It was hard and sometimes really tough. But I always had my mind set on what I wanted to do.”