Myrna Hernandez was making car parts in Midland when the company decided to move.
Faced with unemployment and knowing very little English, she picked herself up, took
English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, got her GED certificate, graduated from
Midland College (MC) and went on to get her bachelor’s degree in bilingual education
and Spanish from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB). She has now
worked at MISD for 11 years. She teaches kindergarten at Bonham Elementary School.
“I have always wanted to be a teacher,” Hernandez said. “I love working with kids.
I also loved going to MC, but it was hard. I was so nervous when I first started.
I did not understand everything the teacher was saying, but MC professors were very
understanding. They knew everything was harder for me. Teachers understood that I
would think in Spanish and then translate everything, so they were always willing
to help me. If I did not know something, teachers tutored me. That extra help made
me more confident. MC has excellent, patient teachers. I try to be like them for my
students. I know all my students are different, and I try to understand each one’s
Hernandez found another support system at MC: friends.
“It was easy to go to school when I knew my friends would be there,” Hernandez said.
“I met a lot of friends. Some were even from the same town in Mexico where I was born,
and we had never met before. We all spoke Spanish and were in the same situation learning
English and going to college. We had fun together; we studied together; we even applied
for scholarships together. All of us received the Bill Pace Cogdell Scholarship. It
paid for books, tuition and fees at MC and UTPB. I am a single mom so I needed that
help. It was difficult to pay for my house, my car and have everything my kids needed.”
Hernandez says her son and her daughter were her motivation to finish school. Now
her oldest granddaughter says she wants to be a teacher like Grandma when she grows
“I wanted to go to school to teach my kids that anything is possible,” Hernandez said.
“I wanted to make them proud of their Mom. When you want something that much, nothing
is going to stop you, especially at MC and Cogdell Learning Center. Instructors are
going to support you every step of the way.”
As a kindergarten teacher, Hernandez is in a unique position to use her experience
to help others who might not know about all the opportunities available at Cogdell
“A lot of my students’ parents tell me, ‘I would like to go to college, but I do not
know any English,’” Hernandez said. “I tell them my story. I started college when
I was 31 with two kids. I did not know anything about how the system worked. I did
not know about financial aid. I did not even know about grades. I found out at graduation
rehearsal that I was graduating with honors. So I tell those parents to go to free
ESL classes at Cogdell Learning Center; go to MC and start from there. They will help
The Cogdell Learning Center is a pillar of the Midland community. On Friday, April
12 the Center celebrated 25 years of serving Midland residents. Faculty and staff
help Midlanders apply for college, financial aid and get ready to register. In the
classrooms, faculty teach citizenship, GED preparation and English as a second language.
In fact, Hernandez was an adult ESL teacher at Cogdell Learning Center for two years.
“When I first started at MC, I learned about work-study programs, and I was placed
in a job at Cogdell Learning Center,” Hernandez said. “I could see how the staff and
the Bill Pace Cogdell Scholarship helped first generation college students. The Scholarship
helped me tremendously. It made my bachelor’s degree possible; it made my dream of
becoming a teacher a reality, and I am so thankful for the opportunity.”
For more information about the FREE services offered at the Cogdell Learning Center,