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Part of Western Governors University

July 30, 2019

Student Success , Business

The real value of good advice.

Victoria Casanova finds her way to WGU Texas.

In 2018, Victoria Casanova earned an A.A degree from Northwest Vista College and set her sights on new goals. She enrolled in WGU Texas’ B.S. Accounting program and started classes in May. Casanova wants to complete her bachelor’s degree in 2021, advance in her current organization’s accounting department, and create financial stability for her and her family. 

Her path to WGU Texas started with a news story about UpGrade, a national network that connects working adults with higher education programs. She met with advisors who helped her start the journey to earn her associates. 

Victoria Casanova Pictured left to right Kolette Palacios, Victoria Casanova and daughter, Micaela Rios

When she completed her degree, she again reached out to UpGrade advisors, who recommended WGU Texas as an option for continuing her education in accounting.  

Casanova made her decision to enroll after meeting with WGU Texas Strategic Partnership Manager Kolette Palacios during a WGU Texas information session at UpGrade. A couple of months later, Casanova and her daughter (both sporting WGU t-shirts) stopped by a coffee chat at Barrio Barista to visit UpGrade Program Director Micaela Rios and share her experience with WGU Texas—how it is a wonderful fit and how happy she is about her decision to enroll.

Through these interactions, Casanova learned the value of good advice, especially in her academic life.

This is her educational journey.

After graduating high school in 2003, Casanova attended college for a year, excelling in a healthcare program. She found she “did not have a passion for the medical field,” and joined the workforce to explore career options. “I would always keep college in the back of my mind, but I did not have the motivation to start all over.”

As a single parent, “I knew my responsibility was to provide for her and do all I could,” she said. “I felt the best way to grow into a good career was to go back to school.” A few years later, Casanova saw a local news story about UpGrade. She searched for the organization and made an appointment with an advisor.

That advisor started her on her path to college, providing a personal touch—frequent calls and messages to check her progress, making sure she attended school, offering resources and guidance. “The most effective advice I received from [advisor] Lowell was to complete my core curriculum first. While completing the required courses, I could get an idea of what major to pursue.”

In 2015, she registered for school. “It was not easy. I was a single mother working full time and a full-time student.” Before her advisor moved to another project he took the time to help her get back into college, providing names of UpGrade associates to contact for guidance. “Through all the difficult nights and the tense testing, I graduated with an Associate’s Degree from Northwest Vista College in May 2018. I felt proud and accomplished.”

After graduation, Casanova took a year off from school to focus on her daughter’s first-grade year. At the end of 2018, she made the decision to return to school, toured a few brick and mortar institutions, and found that online education was a better fit for her lifestyle. 

In January 2019, she contacted UpGrade. “Upgrade has always offered so many resources; I knew I couldn’t search on my own.” She worked with Program Director Micaela Rios, who offered information about a few college choices she was not aware existed. Rios researched more schools, searching for options that would fit her needs. “She gave me outstanding advice, showing me how to see my financial aid limit, providing a list of colleges and contact information, and a list of questions to ask college representatives--that list turned out to be the most helpful resource.” 

“Now, I am registered to attend college. On May 1, I began my journey to obtaining a bachelor’s degree in accounting with WGU Texas.” 

Casanova’s advice to someone thinking about returning to college.

“A few years ago, I did not think college was an option for me, but here I am,” she said. “The UpGrade advisors kept in contact with me, and sent resources and scholarship information for the school I’m attending.”  Casanova’s experience with UpGrade was positive. “They want us to achieve what we can even when we cannot imagine our futures.” With their help, she knew she wasn’t alone on her journey to higher education. “Their duties do not stop when we enroll in a school, or even once we’ve graduated,” she said. Casanova advise attending all the information seminars you can. “The information is helpful and the resources are unlimited.” 

She adds, “Do not ever think you cannot…when you believe in yourself, you will find your abilities are more than your thoughts and you will have others that support you. Nothing great comes easy, and nothing easy can ever equate to greatness.”

WGU Texas is an UpGrade sponsor and corporate partner. UpGrade is an extension of the Graduate! Network and is the only affiliate in San Antonio. It is the first Graduate! Network affiliate in Texas followed by Corpus Christi and Austin. Advisors provide one-on-one advising and case management to adults interested in the successful completion of their educational aspirations. 

To learn more about partnership benefits, visit texas.wgu.edu/upgrade.

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