She is especially grateful for Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a college-readiness program focused on giving students the skills they need to be successful in college. Balderas’ AVID teacher at Nimitz, Ms. Pam Brooks, was an inspiration to Balderas and helped her believe that college was a viable option as a first-generation college student.
“Ms. Brooks was my cheerleader from day one telling me that I was going to go to college,” she says. “Just having someone there cheering me on, telling me I was capable of greater things really inspired me to go to college. I’m eternally grateful to her.”
To no one’s surprise, Balderas received her diploma from Nimitz and headed off to college – a dream she’s had since birth. As a first-generation college student, Balderas knew pursuing higher education could change the trajectory of her life, but also knew finances would be an issue. Although the Dallas County Promise initiative wasn’t available when Balderas graduated, she received scholarships from the Irving Schools Foundation and Nimitz High School.
In the end, she chose North Lake College and couldn’t be happier about the decision.
“My experience at North Lake has been wonderful,” Balderas says. “North Lake tries to build that sense of community. It doesn’t matter where you are, where you come from or who you are because you will always be accepted and will have the same opportunities as everyone else.”
After she walks across the stage to receive her bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate, she’s coming right back to Irving ISD – the district that gave so much to her. She wants to follow in the footsteps of Ms. Brooks and become an AVID teacher.
In fact, she’s already started to pay it forward. Balderas works for the district as an AVID tutor, meeting weekly with AVID students through Zoom to mentor and motivate them to pursue their dreams. It has affirmed her desire to teach and give back to students who were just like her- first-generation college students who desperately want that experience but need someone to believe in them.
“My whole plan revolves around coming back and working for the district,” she says proudly. “I’m leaning towards being an AVID teacher because the program gave me so much. I want to open doors for kids just like AVID did for me.”
To learn how college can become a reality for your child, talk with your child’s school counselor today. A quick conversation can lead to a very bright future!