Success Reached: Isabel Arroyo

TCC’s tagline is Success Within Reach. Our latest graduates have reached that milestone in their educational journey at TCC. In this series, we want to introduce you to some of them.

Isabel Arroyo’s path to higher education took a different path than she originally expected, but it still was a priority for her.  “I had recently moved to Fort Worth from Mexico, clearly a very different environment,” she said. “Due to unforeseen issues, I had already taken some time off after high school graduation, so I knew I had to figure things out quickly to stay on track with my educational goals.”

Since her high school diploma was from Mexico, Isabel pursued her GED, after which someone recommended she go to TCC, “a place that would be great for me to adapt as someone completely new to the U.S. college system,” she said. “With further research, I found that TCC would accept my GED without any issues, and the best part was that it was affordable.”

Since she had no transportation, Isabel appreciated the fact that TCC has multiple campuses near her.  She relied on the EasyRide Program, which became her primary method of transportation while attending the College.

“The most important factor though, was that I could earn college credits and then transfer these to a four-year college to receive a bachelor’s degree,” she said. Isabel received her Associate of Arts in May 2023 and plans to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, possibly doing a double major in Aerospace Engineering.

She found an interest in mechanical engineering early during her education in Mexico.  Instead of a traditional high school, she attended one with more of a STEM focus.  It allowed her to graduate with an electromechanics technician degree. “Everything was going smoothly, including being accepted in the college I had been planning (to attend) for so long,” she said.

“Unfortunately, life does not always go as planned.” Isabel’s grandmother had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. “As she lived with only her husband in the U.S., they were not doing anything to better her condition. I felt the need to come and help them for a couple of months. Those couple of months became an indefinite stay,” she said.

Isabel took on a caregiver role for her grandmother.  “I had to deal with all the doctors.  I was looking for financial help and more. I was not able to focus on more than that.” After many months of hardship, Isabel’s grandmother started to improve and eventually, made a complete recovery. Now, it was time for Isabel to focus on herself.  She decided to stay in the U.S. with her grandparents to continue to help them while working toward her own goals.

She enrolled in TCC during the spring semester of 2022. While attending full-time, she also served as a part-time student worker with the TCC Foundation.

Additionally, Isabel became very involved in student organizations. She was the founder and president of the TCC Trinity River STEM Club, vice president of Beta Sigma Mu, the Trinity River chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, a senator for the Banned Book Club and event organizer of the Gamers United club.

Time management was an issue, and she felt overwhelmed. “Taking mostly STEM classes made it seem like I was understanding nothing,” Isabel said. “Fortunately, my tests and grades demonstrated otherwise.”

Isabel says what helped her was her desire for a higher education. “I also have the many wonderful tutors available on campus to thank,” she said. “I really benefited from the TRIO SSS Program. They helped me stay on track, motivated me, and again, they have great tutors.”

Friends proved important during this time. “My friends were very helpful at these moments when I felt lost at school. They were always there to support me and helped me relax when necessary.” Add in the support of her family from “hundreds of miles away,” and she says she overcame her struggles with “a good support system.”

Isabel says her greatest accomplishment so far is completing her associate degree. “Not only because it was a milestone or how long it took me, but because of all the steps it took me to get there,” she said. “It was way more than staying up late studying, learning the material, or any of these sorts of things. It’s the steps I took these last two years, steps I’ve taken ever since graduating high school: moving to a different country, helping my grandmother with her health, and restarting my educational journey.  I am so proud of myself because two years ago, I would have never imagined where I am right now.”

What does Isabel’s future hold?  She starts at the University of Texas at Arlington in the fall of 2023 and has already been admitted to their honors college. “As at TCC, I hope to be involved in school activities and continue to do good in my classes,” she said.

As for her career, Isabel says those plans are a work in progress. “With mechanical engineering being so versatile, I can go in many directions. As of now, I am undecided between going into product design, working with space flight vehicles, and renewable energies. While completing my engineering courses, I hope to find  what I truly want to do, (whether) that be any of the previous fields mentioned or fields I will discover while getting my bachelor’s degree.”