Tough Texas Tech Student Perseveres Despite Obstacles

by ABBY TOMLINSON

May 07, 2010

Patricia Alcala said she used to question what she was supposed to do with her life. At 31, she finally knows.

Alcala's love of children and her desire to make a difference in their lives drove her to Mountain View Community College, where she has completed most of the lower-division coursework necessary to earn an associate's degree in teaching - but her progress will not stop there.

A unique partnership program between the Dallas County Community College District and Texas Tech University will allow her to complete her upper-division coursework and earn a Bachelor of Science in Multidisciplinary Studies from Texas Tech without leaving her home and family.

Alcala said that the program, called Project TEACH, is perfect for her because she is able to complete much of her coursework online.

"This program allows me to work from my home part of the time, which is great because I work full-time and have a family," Alcala said. After her 2012 graduation, she plans to teach second grade.

Her life may seem perfect now, but Alcala has had her share of struggle. She and her husband of 11 years have a child who, because of a bacterial meningitis infection at the age of seven, is disabled and bound to a wheelchair. But, she said she is a tough woman and the struggle of providing for a disabled child will not discourage her from success.

"Because of this complication in our lives, I think it has made us better people - we don't take things for granted," Alcala said. "It has made us better parents, better husband and wife, and more down-to-earth, nurturing people."

Although Alcala admits balancing work, school and family has been a struggle at times, she has always been able to hold her head up and move forward. In addition to becoming a teacher, she hopes to have more children, move to Brownsville, Texas to be closer to her family, and reach financial stability someday - all while continuing to live a frugal life.

"Life does not stop because of bumps in the road," she concluded.

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