Veteran follows her dream of a college education at TSC - Brownsville Herald: Education

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Veteran follows her dream of a college education at TSC

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Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2019 2:30 pm

Born and raised in Brownsville, Texas Southmost College student and military veteran Maria de los Angeles Osorio grew up with a fascination for the military. When her familyvisited downtown for parades and celebrations like Charro Days, she was always drawn to the military personnel and ROTC who proudly serve our country.

“I was kind of hooked on the commercial back then,” Osorio said. “Be All You Can Be. I believed it as a child, especially being a woman, because it's a lot different when you're a female in the military. It became a challenge to me, and I like challenges. Maybe I can be what I want to be. And that's exactly what I did."

On August 26, 1996, Osorio set off on a new path, joining the U.S. Army and embarking on a new endeavor in life.

Osorio was deployedthree times during her service, once to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. But some of her most trying battles took place off the battlefield.

Among the biggest battles she faced during her military career came after her deployment to Afghanistan when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She spent time recovering in a war transition unit, wondering where life’s road would take her next. After receiving successful treatment and recovery, Osorio was left with a choice: Go back home or continue serving her country.

“For me, it’s like I served four wars,” Osorio said.“I had the pleasure to go back and serve.I was clear from cancer, cancer-free, and I decided this was not a stop for me. I have two arms, two legs, I think I can do it. I was very blessed with that.”

The gender barrier was another obstacle Osorio faced as a female in the military.

“A lot of people say, ‘You're a female, you're going to have it easy,’ and it's not,” Osorio said. “But that's the best thing, it prepares you for life. You’re going to have bumps here, bumps there, and by the time that comes, you’re ready for it.

While she was deployed and in recovery following her breast cancer treatment, Osorio started taking online colleges courses. However, her job in the Army as a logistics specialist was very demanding and it didn’t allow her to complete her degree.

After her retirement from the military, Osorio kept the promise she made to herself while deployed to return to collegeand enrolled at TSC to pursue her dream career as a paralegal.

She was not alone in her college pursuit, as her husband and two sons also enrolled at TSC. They all qualified for VA education benefits such as the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and the Dependents Education Assistance (DEA), as well as the Texas Hazelwood Act Exemption.

Osorio firmly believes that you are never too old to return to college, and that veterans should take advantage of the opportunities available to them.

“The perception isthat you can’t go back and pursue a career,” Osorio said. “I’m here to tell you, ‘yes, you can.’The college and all the opportunities and benefits, especially for veterans, are available here.”

The TSC Veteran and Military Services department provides assistance in applying for admission to TSC, FAFSA, and VA Education benefit applications. They also provide referrals to community resources when needed and have veteran peer-to-peer meetings offered by Tropical Texas Behavioral Health.

She believes that TSC is the perfect fit for her and her family, as well as other veterans.

“A community college is the best option because they help you in your transition, not only from military to civilian and college life, but to complete your degree, get a career or transfer to a four-year university,” Osorio said. “When you have a family and you're transitioning out of the military, it's very hard. And for us to do it, community is the best for our family."

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