Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Education — a tool for life

By Rebecca Bell
Dean of Community Relations & Special Events

Angelica Olivas
She’s the first member of her family to attend college, and Angelica Olivas isn’t just attending college: In May the 31-year-old mother of three will have earned her second associate degree and a baccalaureate degree. Then, in August, she will begin taking classes for a second baccalaureate degree when she enters the Bachelor of Applied Technology program at Midland College (MC).

Olivas said, “I don’t want to struggle to earn a living the way my parents did. I want to establish a college-going culture for my children.”

Olivas has, indeed, already established that culture. Her 12-year-old daughter already knows she wants to attend Colorado School of Mines and major in engineering. In fact, she has already toured the campus!

Angelica started earning her first associate degree in 1998 when she was still in high school. During her senior year at Midland High School, she took advantage of MC’s early admission program and took her first three MC courses. Then in 1999, right after high school graduation, she attended MC as a full-time student on the Legacy Scholarship, which helped to fund her tuition and fees in exchange for volunteer service at a local nonprofit organization.

Her awareness of giving back to the community and nonprofit service continued throughout her college years, as Olivas was also actively involved in MC’s Students in Philanthropy club, which raises funds for annual nonprofit agency grants.

Today, Olivas is still very much focused on the community. She has been employed by the Midland Fire Department for the past seven years as an administrative assistant to Fire Chief Robert Isbell. While her main responsibilities are focused on providing secretarial and administrative support to the fire department, she also is on call to coordinate dispatching and telephone relief during times of major emergencies.

Despite working 40+ hours per week and raising three children, Olivas is also currently taking nine college credit hours—three from The Univeristy of Texas of the Permian Basin to finish a baccalaureate degree in child development studies and six from MC to finish an associate degree in information technology.

In August, Olivas will be enrolled as a full-time student in the organizational management program at MC, where in two years, she will complete her second baccalaureate degree.

“Eventually, I would like to open a daycare center,” explained Olivas. “While my degree in child development studies is helpful in relating to children, I also need some knowledge in finance and management to deal with the intricacies of owning and operating a successful business. The curriculum in MC’s organizational management program is designed for people who are already working. The classes are structured so that traditional classroom lectures are combined with online instruction, and the teachers are friendly and helpful.”

Olivas explained that she wouldn’t be able to begin working on this second baccalaureate degree had it not been for the City of Midland’s generous tuition reimbursement program and the $2,000 scholarship she is receiving from the Midland Chamber of Commerce.

Nellwyn Barnett, Midland Chamber of Commerce executive vice president of chamber relations, noted, “During the past year, the Midland Chamber of Commerce received approximately $1,000 in donations for a college scholarship. It is with great pleasure that the Chamber is matching that amount to provide a $2,000 scholarship for an MC first-generation-to-college student pursuing a degree in organizational management. Small businesses are the cornerstone of Midland’s business climate, and the Chamber wants to encourage people like Angelica to pursue their dream of business ownership.”

The scholarship will be presented to Olivas during Midland College’s See MC/Si, MC family event scheduled for Saturday, April 20.

Olivas said, “I tell my children that they can do anything they want with their lives. They just need the tools to do it. A college education is one of those tools.”

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