You could call Darlisa a modern-day pioneer. Determined to rebound from a series of educational and professional setbacks in her life, she packed up her belongings and her children three years ago and moved from Colorado to Texas for a fresh start. One thing she knew for sure was that she wanted to complete her education. “I went back to school because I wanted something that nobody could take away from me,” she said.
Darlisa had had a variety of work experiences ranging from driving a public transit bus to operating her own home child care business. (Currently she works at a dialysis center.) Raising four daughters as a single mom qualified as a job in itself—one that she said has been “the greatest experience I’ve ever had.” Having transplanted her family to Fort Worth, Darlisa now set her sights on school.
She enrolled at Tarrant County College and last summer learned she had been awarded a TCC scholarship underwritten by the United Way Women’s Fund. The fund, under the guidance of the United Way Women’s Leadership Council, helps women and girls improve their lives.
“To be able to get that financial aid was—oh my goodness!” said Darlisa. “It made me feel proud.” She is using the scholarship money to assist with tuition, school supplies and books. With the support of the Women’s Fund, she will graduate in May from Tarrant County College with an Associate of Arts Degree. Darlisa has always loved working with children, and she plans to take more classes this summer and fall at TCC to earn an Associate of Arts in Teaching. Then she will apply to Texas Tech to earn a bachelor’s degree and be equipped to teach at an elementary school in about a year. As Darlisa puts it, she’ll be trained “to do something solid.”
Like the original pioneers who made a life for themselves in Texas, Darlisa has earned a sense of accomplishment. “When I put my mind to something, I do it,” she smiled in that determined way that any mother of four would understand. While only her 10- and 15-year-old daughters are still living at home now, all of Darlisa’s children are watching and learning from their mother’s success. “My daughters see, ‘If my mom can do it, I can do it,’” she said. That is a message she’s eager to spread beyond her own family. “I want to tell young girls,” she said, “’No matter how old you are, you can return to school.’”