Our Dream Achievers all share one thing in common – the determination to overcome poverty through education and hard work. Add our mentoring and community partnerships, and you have an equation for success. Here are a few of their stories….
Adolfo Aguilar began attending Texas A&M University Kingsville in the fall of 2018. Adolfo is a legal resident of the United States and arrived here in 2015 with very limited English speaking skills. Adolfo’s dream was to study civil engineering and reached out to Dream Come True Foundation in 2020 in hopes of finding a mentor to help him with not only his financial challenges but also to learn some basics of living in America. His mentor, Celanese engineer Sixto Almazan, was truly the perfect match for Adolfo having come from a very similar background. In addition, part of the DCTFST agreement with Adolfo was that we would support his efforts to become a US citizen if he did all the work required– a goal Adolfo was thrilled to do.
In May 2021, Adolfo graduated from TAMUK with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering and in January 2022 became a United States citizen. Sixto remained Adolfo’s mentor after graduation guiding him through the areas of personal finance, establishing credit, employment searches and evaluating employment opportunities. In January 2022, Adolfo started working at Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson San Antonio branch as a traffic engineer. Although he misses the small- town friendliness of Kingsville, he states he is slowly settling into a small apartment in San Antonio that is close enough to his office that he can walk. He’s also found a local church he likes and there is an older gentleman in his office who has basically taken Adolfo under his wing. Adolfo expressed his appreciation to Dream Come True in this way, “I am so grateful to The Dream Come True Foundation for helping me to learn to be an adult and becoming a US citizen. My mentor taught me about taxes, credit card use and credit scoring. His best advice to me was to save my money and spend it only when I have to. I didn’t fully appreciate those words until I moved and started my job in San Antonio.”
By the time Julio Menchaca graduated from High School in 2016, he was determined to be the first in his family to go to college. His family was never really financially stable and he just wanted to make things better for his family and for himself. Originally from Rio Grande City Texas, Julio moved to Kingsville to attend Texas A&M University-Kingsville to major in Range and Wildlife Management and minor in Plant and Soil Science. Julio states “As a teenager, I started working cattle and did a lot of hunting. I loved working with nature and that is what I took into consideration when declaring my major at TAMUK.” Julio managed to earn excellent grades despite attending school full time while working as many as two jobs. During his college years he was most proud of being accepted as an intern with the USDA’s Pathways Program for the Natural Resource Conservation Service Program. Julio became a Dream Achiever because “a good support system like the mentors with Dream Come True Foundation could really help push me and encourage me to open new doors and give me that impactful guidance I need to reach my goal of graduating from college.” Julio’s mentors, Glenn and Johanna Jones, were right there with Julio through many of his challenges, including getting through the financial constraints working and going to school during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of March, 2021, Julio became employed with the USDA as a Soil Conservationist in Albany, Texas. In reflecting on his experience with Dream Come True, Julio states “I am proud to say that I am a Dream Achiever and the Dream Come True Foundation of South Texas was very impactful in my life and in my school.”
Omar Cortez grew up in the small town of Raymondville, Texas and is the youngest of five children. Growing up, Omar never gave much thought to going to college primarily because of the cost and he didn’t exactly have stellar high school grades. But two things in his life encouraged him to pursue college; the motivation from his family and teachers, and his experience with his high school Explorer program where he had a chance to learn about law enforcement. In 2017, Omar enrolled full time at Texas A&M University Kingsville while working most evenings at HEB. While Omar declared his major as Agricultural Science, he also took several criminal justice classes because of his interest in law enforcement. In the summer of 2019, Omar participated with the Texas Game Warden Law Enforcement Internship program where he was able to observe firsthand the role of Game Wardens on the job. Omar also applied with Dream Come True Foundation in 2019. According to Omar, “Financially my work with HEB only earns me so much to provide for my living expenses not to mention my obligations to my daughter. Assistance from DCT would help me focus on completing my bachelor’s degree and the mentoring will assist me in learning life skills.” In December 2020 Omar did indeed graduate with a Bachelors in Ag Science and had planned to apply to the Game Warden Academy. But due to COVID-19, the Academy has temporarily closed. In the meantime, Omar has found a temporary six-month position with the USDA Plant Health Inspection Service Division as a Plant Protection and Quarantine Aid. He plans to still apply to the Game Warden Academy as soon as it reopens. In Omars words, “Even though my graduation did not go as planned, I was able to have a moment of reflection on my greatest achievements and struggles. I realized how grateful I am for everything I have gone through and the people I have met. I thank the Dream Come True Foundation and my mentors for showing me so much support even when I least expected it.” Omar’s mentors will continue to stay with him until he gets into the Academy or finds regular employment in agriculture.