Kevin Silva

Kevin Silva, 27, will graduate from Victoria College's paramedic program.

Kevin Silva wasn’t sure he would be able to finish school.

The coursework to become an Emergency Medical Technician was challenging, particularly while he was working another job.

He quit.

Two years later, he tried again. The coursework was still demanding and required a lot of focus. But this time, he kept working.

On Saturday, Silva, 27, will graduate from Victoria College with a paramedic certificate.

Silva, who was hired by the Calhoun County Emergency Medical Services in January, said he’s really excited to be graduating Saturday with a job he loves.

“I can say for sure this is probably the best job I’ve ever taken,” he said. “It’s a learning experience, and I strive to keep taking the next step.”

It’s been a long journey for Silva, who said that as a kid in Mexico, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. When his family immigrated to the U.S., Silva said he started thinking about what he might want to do for work, thanks to classes he took at Calhoun High School.

At Victoria College, he approached his work with diligence, said Susie Jechow, the EMS program director. Jechow said it was clear early on that he had mastered the medical concepts critical to being a good EMT, but he had to work twice as hard because all of the course work was in English, Silva’s second language.

Jechow said that obstacle, which made tests and exams challenging, didn’t stop Silva.

“He’s a good example of all work, no play,” Jechow said about Silva’s focus.

In March, as Silva was finishing up his classes and working as a professional EMS in Calhoun County, he and his family faced a devastating loss. His 15-year-old brother, Ryan, was killed in a car crash in Victoria.

“He was the light force of our house,” Silva said. “He would play the piano, make us laugh, just about everything else. Seeing him go, it really struck my heart and my family’s heart.”

Ryan’s death was a devastating loss for Silva’s family, and for the Port Lavaca community where they lived.

“I didn’t know if he was going to be able to come back,” Jechow said.

Silva was able to get through the loss and finish his classes with the support of his family, classmates and co-workers.

“No matter what, I never thought of quitting. I made it all the way through. I shouldn’t just stop now,” he said he thought to himself.

Jechow said she was impressed by Silva’s resilience and credited the close network among his classmates in supporting him through a difficult time.

“When he came back, it was like he was coming back to another family,” she said.

Silva is one of 10 students who will graduate Saturday from the paramedic program, all of whom either already have jobs or will start a job after graduation. Silva said he’s excited to finish the program and excited to get back to work.

Ciara McCarthy covers local government for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can reach her at cmccarthy@vicad.com or at 580-6597 or on Twitter at @mccarthy_ciara.

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Health Reporter

Ciara McCarthy covers local government for the Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can contact her by emailing cmccarthy@vicad.com.

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