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Amanda Perez-Vargas – Adult Basic Education

High school equivalency diploma opened doors for mother of three.

THEN: She was applying for food stamps when her Department of Human Services caseworker asked, “Don’t you want a better life?” Amanda Perez-Vargas had worked in various menial jobs since she dropped out of high school in ninth grade, and she decided she did want a better life. Her caseworker told her the key to that life was to get an education, adding, “I can help you with that.”

The caseworker went with Perez-Vargas to Pioneer Technology Center and convinced her to enroll in its adult basic education program. The mother of three started school at Pioneer Tech the same day her oldest daughter started school. She said it was refreshing to be in class with students her own age who faced the same struggles she did.

Perez-Vargas said she hadn’t been in school for 20 years, but with the help of ABE coordinator Wendy Terrazas, she

  • Gained the confidence to prepare for the high school equivalency test.
  • Earned her high school equivalency diploma after one month in the program.
  • Was motivated to continue her education and earned an associate degree.

Her experience in the ABE program was one of love and encouragement, she said: “To have that kind of positivity around you is contagious.”

NOW: Perez-Vargas is the bursar at Pioneer Tech, earning good money and receiving health insurance and other valuable benefits. She plans to earn a bachelor's degree in business administration from Southern Nazarene University later this year. Perez-Vargas said her children were three of the biggest reasons she went back to school, and she feels she can now be a positive example and an inspiration to them.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those earning a high school diploma, over the course of their lifetime, earn 30 percent more than those who don’t have that diploma.

"I was told over and over again that I could do this, that I could accomplish my educational goals..."

Amanda Perez-Vargas, bursar

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