Heart attack survivor finds new purpose with AlamoONLINE

July 7, 2021

The decision to return to school and earn a degree is a personal one, and the turning point looks vastly different for each student. For Michelle Enriquez, the catalyst was a heart attack. The traumatic experience of surviving a heart attack redirected her life and, in her healing, she decided to make some changes—one of which was to pursue an education.

“Five years ago, I had a heart attack that made me start looking at my life differently. I left a job that was very stressful, got a new job, and decided I wanted to keep going.”

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While weighing her decision, Michelle experienced another life-changing moment that further boosted her confidence. Fate placed Michelle in line with a woman whose story paralleled her own in many ways. In hearing this woman's story about dropping out of high school, then earning her GED, going to college, and becoming a doctor, Michelle saw her own story with a positive ending.  “I thought, wow, that’s so awesome, and started thinking that maybe I could do this too. Hearing her story gave me all the confidence I needed to take that next step.” Michelle soon enrolled as a fully online student at Palo Alto College.

Michelle’s initial hesitation to earn an online degree included the all-too-common fear of failure. She says, “I was terrified, afraid that I would fail.” However, transformed by the wisdom of life’s uncertainty, she found the courage to enroll. Earning a GED or pursuing a two- or four-year degree had always felt impossible for her. She notes, “It was something I thought I couldn’t do because my parents didn’t graduate high school. I’m one of four kids and my brothers didn’t graduate high school. I had no experience. I didn’t have people close to me who went to college. I always thought only really smart people go to college, and I can’t go to college because I didn’t graduate from high school.”

Not only did Michelle earn her GED, but she enrolled in PAC and is now studying Business Management with plans to transfer to a four-year university. Rarely do we experience such powerful life-changing moments that shift the trajectory of our lives. When we do, as Michelle showed us, we find the confidence needed to pursue our dreams. These moments can be found in health scares, conversations with others, or moments of inspiration. Whether small or significant, these moments give us the courage to take the first step.

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AlamoONLINE represents the range of opportunities for students pursuing degrees, certificates, or other offerings delivered 100% online from Northeast Lakeview College, Northwest Vista College, Palo Alto College, San Antonio College, and St. Philip’s College.

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