By Melissa Cantu Trevinomtrevino@cherryroad.com
The dream of having a college education is finally complete for one 70-year-old woman in Alice. On Wednesday, May 18, Mary Ann De Los Santos walked the graduation stage at Coastal Bend College in Beeville with her fellow classmates.
At an early age, De Los Santos dropped out of high school and got her GED. However, she never stopped yearning for her education and her degree.
After decades, she reached her goal and received her Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education with honors.
“Well life happened. I got married and had my (family.) I didn’t go back to school,” De Los Santos said. “I had a daycare for 10 years in Corpus Christi, but I always wanted to go back to school.”
When she retired, De Los Santos signed up to go to CBC in Alice for the 2017 Spring semester. However, life would hit her hard and she was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2016. She beat cancer and enrolled in college courses in 2019.
“I had to concentrate on treatments and radiation. So I didn’t get to start when I wanted to,” she said. “After coming to terms with my medical diagnoses I was able to start taking classes. I took one class in the Fall of 2017 and then started taking additional classes every semester.”
“I had all the time to study. It wasn’t easy, but since I was retired I had all the time in the world. It was awesome for me,” De Los Santos said.
She was the oldest students in her college courses and usually found herself giving other students advice. She was always encouraging her fellow students to continue their education.
“If I can do it so can they,” De Los Santos said.
She is the second youngest of nine children. She was born in Indiana, but her parents were migrant farm workers. Her parents were originally from Texas and settled in Texas until De Los Santos and her siblings started school.
Her parents aren’t alive to see her accomplish her goal, but she knows they’d be proud.
“They would be very excited,” she said. “My mother always said the brain was always learning and never to let it stop learning. That stuck with me and encouraged me.”
De Los Santos intends to attend Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi to receive her Bachelor’s Degree.
“My degree is a personal goal I had for myself. I’ve already worked in the field. I don’t plan to go back. I just wanted to have my degree,” she said. “It’s very gratifying to know that I accomplished my goals. I’m excited.”
“I’ve already (worked in the field), but you never know what the future holds,” she said.
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