“Which parent do you want to be? The kind of parent that when the time comes for your child to apply to college you are able to say, ‘I gave you all the tools, I navigated the education system with you, you are ready!’; or the parent to whom the child can complain about the lack of support? saying things like, ‘if you had provided me with this information, if you had walked with me down that path, I could have gone to college’” said Liliana Valadez, PIQE’s associate director in the Modesto office.
Valadez began her journey with PIQE in 2009. In the nearly 14 years that she has been in this organization, she has held various positions: recruiter, coordinator, facilitator, and for the past two years, associate director.
“I love working at PIQE; the best part for me is seeing the faces of our parents when they thank you for sharing valuable information that they were not aware of,” said the mother of two.
“I understand their feeling; my parents hardly finished elementary school. I am the only one in my family who was able to attend a university,” said Valadez, who graduated from Tourism Business Administration in Mexico City, where she grew up. “My husband did not have the opportunity to finish college, among other things because he did not have his parents support.”
“My father worked all day, and that made it possible for us to have extracurricular activities such as swimming and dance lessons…we would go on road trips during the weekends; Rodolfo (her husband) was not able to do those things,” said Valadez. “Parents can make a great difference in their children’s life.”
She added, “If my parents had not given me all those opportunities, all of their support, I would not be here, working at PIQE.”
Valadez shared that when her husband was 18, he had to leave college to come the United States (from Mexico) in search of a better future. He has worked at a supermarket distribution center since then; he started carrying boxes, sometimes 3,000 boxes a day. After so many years, he now has a better job, but it is still physical, and his schedule can be extraneous. When he gets home, he is exhausted.
“Rodolfo often tells me, ‘if I had known someone who worked at PIQE back then, I would have been able to go to college; my life would be very different,” said Valadez.
“It is important to help our children find their passion. What moves them? What do they like?” she said. “Regardless of what that is, there is no other way to achieve it than through education.”
“I’ve never cried at a graduation, but I get emotional when I listen to what parents share. That’s where you say, ‘Wow, it’s great that I work here.’ When you listen to their stories you forget about all those long hours at work,” she laughs. “If from a group of 30, 50 or 100 people, I manage to impact the life of one family, I have done my job.”
“As parents, we have the opportunity to plant the seed of education in our children. I see it with my daughter who is now a Junior in high school. She grew up listening to me. For my children (getting a higher education) it’s a given, they are always saying, ‘hey mom me when I go to college…’. It is very gratifying,” she said.