Single Mom Sets the Right Example by Starting Her Dream Career
Mariel Colon Maizonet raised her two daughters as a single mother and made some difficult personal decisions along the way, but when she started to see them go down the same path she did and consider dropping out of school, she decided it was time to show them how important education is.
Mariel had her daughters when she was young. She had watched several family members before her drop out of school and fall victim to different addictions. She never wanted to be like them, but she had to find a way to care for her girls.
“I always had to work,” she said. “When I wasn’t working, I was living off government assistance until I could find work to be able to care for them. My family is very low income. They weren’t able to help too much. It was basically me, just trying to help them have the life I didn’t have.”
Mariel was able to get her high school diploma and a certificate for cosmetology, but it didn’t feel like a good fit, and she continued to jump from job to job.
“My girls look up to me a lot,” she said. “Sometimes we don’t look like mother and daughter. We are really, really close. They had already seen the struggles I went through raising them. I saw that they were not wanting to go to school. They were bored of school and saying, ‘Well, maybe we can go to work with you, and think about college down the line.’ I said no. If I can do it, you can do it.”
Mariel decided right away to enroll in the Patient Care Technician program at Florida Career College’s Margate campus.
“I was very nervous. I didn’t think I would make it past the first week,” she said. “I had no idea what the teacher was saying, I just heard her speaking. I couldn’t comprehend any of the words she was using. My teacher is amazing. She would break things down when I didn’t understand. Sometimes she would take extra time out of her time to explain things.”
It didn’t take long for Mariel to become comfortable with the program and the content she was learning. After just a few weeks, her teacher and others on campus encouraged her to become an ambassador.
“It was new to me. It was overwhelming in a good way,” she said. “It was an exciting moment. For people who go through life not feeling accepted, or like they don’t fit in anywhere – to be a part of a big school and be a part of something, being involved, people recognizing you, it was good. I liked it.”
“She was a great student,” said Olivia Winston, Mariel’s instructor. “Upon entering, she was always willing to help others, learn, study. She became my ambassador because she was always helping the other students so well.”
‘A WIN-WIN SITUATION’
It wasn’t just the staff at the school who noticed how well Mariel was doing. Her daughter noticed too, and after just a few weeks, her oldest daughter decided to enroll at Florida Career College as well. She chose the Medical Assistant Technician program.
“It’s amazing,” Mariel said. “I thought it was going to be weird, but it is actually pretty cool. I can help her out and she can help me out whenever we don’t understand. We are in different programs, but both in the medical field. There are things she may not understand when the teacher explains it to her, but me being at home, I’m able to explain it to her and she is able to help me out too. It’s a win-win situation.”
‘A TEMPORARY SETBACK MEANS A PERMANENT IMPROVEMENT’
Mariel’s grades remained high throughout the program, and she was able to graduate with honors. It’s something she never expected for herself.
“I never pushed myself because from seeing my family always not push themselves to be something bigger, I never had the faith that I could do more,” she said. “I always just settled. Whatever happened, happened. Completing this program taught me whatever you put your mind to, and you focus on and you practice, you’re able to finish it.”
Those who know Mariel are not surprised by her success.
“My old saying has always been, ‘a temporary setback means a permanent improvement for the future,’ and that’s exactly what Mariel has proven,” Ms. Winston said. “Everything she has gone through has put her ahead now. She is very good at what she does. I wish I had more students like her, but she was exceptional. She came in wanting the program. She was very attentive. She has a bright future as a patient care technician, and I would definitely encourage her to go even further.”