Marcela’s Story: Two Generations, One Bright Future
Fort Morgan Mom & Daughter Thrive Through WAGES
When Marcela’s family moved to Fort Morgan from Chihuahua, Mexico, in 2011, the transition was difficult. She missed her extended family and felt isolated in her high school ESL class as the only Spanish speaker. On some days she didn’t think she was going to make it in her new, unfamiliar environment. But Marcela was a strong student in Mexico and brought that determination with her to the U.S. Even with a language barrier, she graduated on time and looked forward to attending Morgan Community College.
Marcela’s Story from Women’s Foundation of Colorado on Vimeo.
I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant
But before she could finish her first year, Marcela left school. “I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant,” she said. After her daughter Samantha was born, she worked as a teacher’s assistant for an ESL program. She enjoyed helping kids who were like her but only earned minimum wage. “I couldn’t even afford to have an apartment for my daughter and me.” She knew she needed to find a way to go back to school for their futures.
A new program for moms from immigrant backgrounds
In high school, Marcela had been introduced to OneMorgan County. The nonprofit organization aims to foster a sense of inclusivity and social cohesion in a city that is home to thousands of immigrants. Marcela learned that OneMorgan was starting a new program with funding from The Women’s Foundation to help moms from immigrant backgrounds earn their degrees. She quickly signed up.
Through OneMorgan’s WAGES (Women Achieving Greater Economic Security) program, Marcela can access career workshops, computer literacy training, support, and collaboration from other participants. Morgan Community College covers her tuition and offers assistance from career counselors. WFCO’s funding provides a monthly stipend she can use to offset the staggering costs of child care, transportation, books, or supplies that can keep working mothers from entering and staying in school.
Learning for two
Now Marcela is back on the path to earning an associate degree of science with a dream to eventually attend the Colorado School of Mines to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering. While she’s learning and growing at school, her daughter is, too.
“The WAGES program has helped me with my daughter by sending her to child care,” said Marcela. “It has given me safety about who is taking care of her and she has learned so much. I think me finishing my education is important for Samantha because I will set an example for her.”