TCC Grads: From Homeless to Hope

Zipper and Rios
Heather Zipper, left, and Greg Rios

Greg Rios and Heather Zipper took different roads to stints in homeless, but shared TCC’s Visions Unlimited Program as their pathway to a better future by earning college degrees .

After losing a public service job and  a series of poor decisions, Rios landed at the Union Gospel Mission. There he learned about Visions Unlimited, a cooperative effort with homeless shelters in Tarrant County that provides the homeless access to higher education.

“It really helped me get back on my feet and get my life back together. TCC has helped me to feel like I have a purpose in life, ” said Rios, a member of Phi Theta Kappa.  He wants to study law so that he can help others in situations similar to what he has been through. “I’m hoping doors will open because I’ve always had a heart to help people.”

Zipper was living at the Salvation Army participating in its First Choice Program when she learned she could continue her education.

Greg Rios at graduation
Greg Rios shows off his graduation medals. Click image to see video.

“Honestly, I really didn’t have the  confidence in myself that I could go back to school,” Zipper said. “It really helped me out for (the program sponsor) to ask me if I did the necessary footwork. I’m grateful for those gentle suggestions.”

Zipper has overcome tremendous challenges to become the first person in her family to graduate.  And, she has done so as the recipient of several academic awards and scholarships.

It is miles from where her life headed.  “Everyone who knew me thought I’d be dead now,” Zipper said.  “When my five-year-old sees me graduate, it’s telling him he can do it.  It’s exciting!”

Check out more graduation stories here:

Visons grads w Chancellor
TCC Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley congratulates Visions Unlimited graduates.