In May 2004, 18-year-old Adriana Ortega was sitting in her living room and crying
as she was holding her infant son and watching the televised graduation ceremony for
her Midland High School classmates. Ortega wasn’t there because she had dropped out
of school two years earlier to get married.
“Watching my friends graduate made me realize that I needed to get a high school diploma,
so I started taking GED® classes at Midland College, and 3 ½ months later, I had a
high school diploma,” explained Ortega.
Ortega remained married raising her son Santiago and daughter Karyme, who was born
two years later. When Karyme started pre-school in 2010, Adriana decided it was time
to take her education one step further, so she enrolled in classes at Midland College.
“I wasn’t sure what my major would be,” said Ortega. “I enrolled in a few business-related
classes, and then one day, as I was sitting in a Business Systems class taught by
Sylvia Brown, I realized that a business career was my calling. What can I say .
. . I like ‘paperwork!’”
While she was taking classes, Ortega worked full-time as an administrative assistant,
was married and raising two young children. In 2013, she graduated from Midland College
with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Systems and soon obtained
an administrative assistant position at D&H pumps. She was also active in Midland
College’s Students in Philanthropy organization and was a member of Sigma Kappa Delta,
the English Honor Society.
“I really enjoyed having Adriana as a student,” said Business Systems Department Chair
Sylvia Brown. “She was always eager to learn new things. She fully participated
in all the classroom activities. I could tell that she has the confidence needed
to accomplish everything she sets her mind to do.”
In 2015, Ortega enrolled once again at Midland College—this time pursuing a baccalaureate
degree in Organizational Management. She excelled in her classes and was able to
further her career when she accepted a position as an administrative assistant working
for a local oilfield service company, Badger Daylighting.
However, life wasn’t exactly idyllic for Ortega and her family. In 2016, Adriana
and her husband of 15 years divorced. She suddenly became a single mother; however,
she was determined to complete her degree. Ortega said it was hard to juggle finances.
In July 2017, she was forced to obtain a part-time job working two evenings each week
at Kirkland’s at Midland Park Mall. Fortunately, her college tuition was being financed
in part through the Midland Uptown Business & Professional Women’s scholarship.
“It wasn’t easy raising a family, working and going to school,” stated Ortega. “My
family had to make lots of sacrifices, but it is worth it.”
In May 2018, Adriana Ortega graduated from Midland College with a Bachelor of Applied
Technology degree in Organizational Management. In June, she celebrated two years
of employment at Badger.
“Every student has a different path to graduation,” explained Organizational Management
Associate Professor Ryan Peckham. “Adriana’s work ethic and determination have never
wavered, and even in the face of adversity, she has persevered. I am proud of her,
but more importantly, she should be very proud of herself.”
Adriana Ortega wants to take her career even further. She said that she will spend
extra time this summer and fall with her children—Santiago is now 15, and Karyme is
13. However, she plans to get right back in school in January, either taking paralegal
courses or working on an MBA.
The 18-year-old high school dropout who was sitting in her living room crying as she
was watching her classmates graduate is now a 33-year-old college graduate determined
to excel in her career.