In 1998, Marilu Rodriguez and her parents came to the United States to join her sister Marisol, who was already living in the Dallas area. Marilu was in her twenties, and knew there would be more opportunities for work and a higher quality of life in Texas than in their hometown in Chihuahua, Mexico. What she didn’t realize was how challenging it would be to take advantage of those new opportunities.
She got a job at a local restaurant, but the wages were so low that when her parents became ill, and she needed to provide support for the whole family, she had to work double shifts almost constantly. The strain put pressure on every part of her life, and contributed to the end of her marriage, but she was determined to do better and improve her situation and move into a career as a medical assistant. She knew she needed to get her GED, become a citizen, get more training in the field, but even after achieving those goals she was still challenged by her language skills and lack of practical experience. While taking English classes at a local community college, she asked the teacher if she knew of any organizations that could help with workplace and interview skills, and was immediately referred to the Wilkinson Center.

At the Wilkinson Center, Marilu worked with staff member Veronica Tobias to identify ways that she could work towards a career as a medical assistant, which had always been her dream. Through the CareerWorks program, Marilu developed her interview skills, learned budgeting and money management techiques, and received guidance in job hunting. Most importantly, the Wilkinson Center helped arrange a volunteer position at Children’s Health Hospital, where Marilu was able to gain real-world experience. In less than a year, she was able to turn that volunteer position into a full-time job with benefits as a Patient Care Technician. Now she’s working in her chosen field and making more than double what she was at the local restaurant.

Marilu’s life since coming to the United States has not always been easy, but even after setbacks and challenges she kept her head high and her eyes focused on her goals. She loves her job at the Hospital, where she works closely with nurses and doctors to assist patients, collect vital data, and make sure that their stay in the hospital is as comfortable as possible. She especially enjoys having the opportunity to work with patients and assist in their care, and she credits the Wilkinson Center, and Veronica, with providing the vital skills and connections that enabled her to get this position. Her dedication, her perseverance, and her can-do attitude were even bigger factors, and she’s not ready to stop moving forward… as soon as her schedule permits it, Marilu plans to be back at the Center taking additional classes and continuing to move her life, and her family’s life, in a positive direction.