Every morning at 5:30 a.m. Darin Molina catches a bus in Matamoros, to the Gateway International Bridge, where he proceeds to walk across, rain or shine, to Texas Southmost College.
The 24-year-old is a Social Work student at TSC working toward a second associate degree that he expects to get in spring 2022. He first graduated from the college in fall 2020 with an associate degree in Criminal Justice.
For Molina, getting to where he is today has been a journey that has come with many obstacles, including overcoming depression, but keeping his end goal in mind – a better life, keeps him moving forward.
“I want to become somebody,” said Molina. “It’s only my mom and I, so I need to help her with bills and food. That’s part of my responsibility. But my other responsibility is pulling us out of struggling and changing our lives for the better with a college education that will lead to a successful career.”
He was only 13 years old when his mother and father separated, leaving Molina with an emotional struggle he said he overcame with lots of prayer.
During this time, although he was hurting, his mother realized how he still took the time to help others in need without hesitation.
It was this realization that set up Molina’s future in social work.
“My mom telling me she could see me as a social worker or psychologist, because I love to listen and give advice, caught my attention and motivated me toward a career in the field,” he said. “It was also during this time when I realized everyone is going through something, even kids my age.”
Molina now sets out to use his degree among the school systems as a child counselor or psychologist, helping students who are struggling like he did years ago. Getting started was another challenge he had to overcome.
“No matter how much I studied I could not pass my Texas Success Initiative (TSI) assessment exam,” said Molina. “So instead of wasting anymore time, I moved forward with the developmental courses I needed. It took me an additional year, but I had to do it to keep moving forward. Nothing was going to stop me.”
Molina said he has come a long way from the boy who would sit on top of his roof at home praying for clarity and strength.
During his time at TSC, he said he has met a new family that not only supports him, but understands his struggles and inspires him to become a better person.
Molina even found a job on campus as a work study for the Marketing and Communication department that is flexible with his class schedule.
“Everyone I’ve met at TSC has one goal, and that’s to help us succeed,” said Molina. “My experience has been exceptional. When you’re at a college that helps you identify your strengths, helps you grow, allows you to explore career opportunities and encourages your dreams, you know you’re in the right place.”
Ultimately, Molina plans on transferring to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work. Combining what he knows about the criminal justice system and his area of study, he hopes to help other troubled youth find success.
“I know I still have struggles ahead, because nothing great in life is easy to get,” he said. “But it’s hope and faith that keep me going, and I always keep one thing in mind, ‘with faith, everything is possible.’”
Registration for summer and fall 2021 is underway, go to tsc.edu/register.