MC Speakers Bureau • First Generation to College • Celia Molina Roux

“Besame la mano” ... “trabajo dia y noche”

By Rebecca Bell


rouxDesiderio Molina was a 6’4” blue-eyed Mexican native who, in the early 1920s, met and fell in love with a young Alice, Texas, girl named Felipa. The young couple married and became migrant farm workers traveling throughout South Texas working in the fields. Then, in the early 1940s they moved to Odessa, and West Texas has been home to the Molina family ever since.


Celia Molina Roux remembers her grandparents, Felipa and Desiderio, as very strict and not showing much affection at home. Molina Roux says, “When we greeted my grandparents, they would say, ‘Besame la mano,’ which means kiss my hand, a very old-world Mexican tradition.”


Molina Roux also remembers her parents, Teresa and Jim Molina, with a Spanish expression, “trabajo dia y noche” — working day and night — because that’s what the couple who only attained third- and fourth-grade educations did in order to ensure a good life for their children. During the day, Teresa cleaned homes and sold Stanley home products, and Jim was employed as a laborer for the City of Odessa for 36 years. Then, at night, Mr. and Mrs. Molina worked as janitors at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Odessa so that their children could attend school there.


Molina Roux recalls, “My brother, my cousins and I were the only Hispanics in our classes. Our classmates were the children of doctors and lawyers. My clothes were either bought at garage sales or made by my mother. At times I felt intimidated, but I knew that education was my ticket to success. I remember sitting next to a very pretty blond-haired, blue-eyed girl in one of my classes. We had a test, where she made an 80, and I made a 96. That’s when I realized that I was just as smart as anyone else and I could be anything I wanted to be!”


After completing St. Mary’s School, Molina Roux attended Odessa High School (OHS). During her senior year in high school, she enrolled in Odessa College (OC) through the early admissions program and took two courses. In 1973, she graduated from OHS in the top 10 percent of her class, and then married at the age of 19 and began working for Texas Electric Company in Odessa. It was while she was working for Texas Electric that she really got serious about her college education.


She states, “I was very fortunate in that Texas Electric had a tuition reimbursement program. Since I was working for an electric company, I decided to enroll in OC’s electronics program. In 1975, I was the only female taking electronics classes, but I enjoyed them and managed to obtain an Associate degree in electronics. Texas Electric soon promoted me, and at many job sites I would be the only woman. In fact, in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, most job sites didn’t have facilities for women. I remember having to go to the bathroom behind transformers!”


In addition to succeeding in the field of electronics, Molina Roux also had a passion for furthering her education. Shortly after graduating from OC, she found herself enrolled in college once again—this time at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, where in 1981, she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in business administration. In 1983, she was able to land a position with State Farm as a claims adjuster in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and as such was able to rely on the unusual combination of her technical expertise and her business background to excel in the insurance business. While in Tulsa, Molina Roux enrolled in the University of Tulsa Law School, and in 1989, Teresa and Jim Molina’s daughter—who attended grade school wearing homemade clothes and hand-me-downs—graduated with a J.D. degree in law!


Even though Molina Roux says that she has never practiced law, she found that her law degree definitely helped her be successful as a State Farm insurance agent, and it is also proving useful in her responsibilities at Midland College (MC). She is currently employed as a counselor for the MC Business and Economic Development Center, and she instructs first-time homebuyer education classes in Spanish. Because of her humble background, Molina Roux is very dedicated to assisting individuals and small businesses get started on the road to financial independence.


In addition, Molina Roux is an adjunct professor for MC’s bachelor of applied technology program, where she teaches “Negotiations” in the evening. She states, “I enjoy evening students. Most of them are employed as full-time professionals and technicians. They remind me of myself when I was attending school. They work hard at their jobs during the day and then go to class in order to achieve success in their careers. Just like I am, many of them are the first in their families to attend college.”


“The most important thing,” she says, “is that no one and nothing can take away one’s education. I will always have my three degrees. I thank my strict, old-world Mexican grandparents and my hardworking parents for paving the way for me to accomplish my dreams!”