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Damacia “Dee” Maldonado from Wharton retired from the only profession she had ever known to pursue an education and a new career. She now finds herself at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County, where she has been the Office Manager since August 2015.

Before coming to TSTC, Maldonado worked for grocery retailer Kroger. She worked every department up to assistant manager. After 22 years with the company, she made the decision to retire in 2012.

“I had three kids and one baby at home, so 60-70 hour weeks were no longer feasible,” said Maldonado.

Immediately after retirement, Maldonado found herself enrolling at Wharton County Junior College to pursue an associate degree in Psychology.

“I’m a firm believer in junior and technical colleges, especially going back after two decades, I was intimidated,” said Maldonado. “But I don’t think there’s any age that’s too old to go back to school.”

Unfortunately, only two semesters away from graduating, Maldonado found herself in a single- mother role, solely living off of her retirement. So in the spring of 2015, she had to make the difficult decision of putting her education on hold.

 “It’s my faith that has really guided me in how I should live life and handle situations,” said Maldonado. “I really prayed for this job at TSTC and for the opportunity to go back to college. My prayers were answered.”

Now in her second semester, the single-mother is a full-time student at the College of Biblical Studies in Houston studying counseling in hopes of helping others through faith-based counseling.

As for her position at TSTC, Maldonado is glad it still allows her to work in an educational setting as a guide for students.

“With a lot of these students there’s a lot of fear of the unknown and uncertainty about making big career decisions,” said Maldonado. “My position has allowed me to build relationships with these students and really learn TSTC’s mission and foundation so I can guide these students in the right direction.”

In addition to being able to do what she loves, Maldonado said TSTC gives her the opportunity of being a mom and a volunteer. In her free time, she volunteers with a children’s ministry and a life pathway program for adolescents. She also works closely with women struggling with divorce, addiction and sobriety.

Ultimately, Maldonado said she hopes there will be counseling opportunities with TSTC in the near future because she wants to be a part of TSTC’s new chapter in Fort Bend County.

“TSTC is moving in the right direction with its new campus and it’s going to be a big help for our community,” said Maldonado. “We’re definitely going to leave footprints.”

TSTC’s new campus in Fort Bend County opens August 2016. Registration for summer and fall 2016 is in progress. For more information call 281-239-1548.

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