On May 9, Nicole Arizpe posted the following message on her Facebook page:
“Eight years ago I called the [Midland College] Cogdell Learning Center to ask about
GED® classes; I got my GED® in May 2012. [Staff at Cogdell] encouraged me to continue
my education and to apply for [the Bill Pace Cogdell] scholarship. I was blessed
and fortunate to be awarded the scholarship, and through their continued financial
support, I became a graduated nurse in December 2017. In March 2018, I passed the
NCLEX [National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses] and today I would have
been walking the stage with my BSN [Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing] from UTPB
[University of Texas, Permian Basin].
“I want to honor the [Cogdell] Learning Center for believing in me. Thank you!! And
all glory be to God!!”
Arizpe is the daughter of naturalized Mexican citizens. She said that her mother
was eight months pregnant with her when she crossed the Rio Grande from a small town
in Jalisco, Mexico. Arizpe grew up in Midland and attended Midland schools until
she dropped out in the 9th grade. She married Sebastian, and the couple have three
children. Sebastian owns a landscaping company.
Before Arizpe made that call to Midland College’s (MC) Cogdell Learning Center, she
would change the subject quickly when her children asked about her high school graduation.
“I was embarrassed to tell them that I dropped out of school in the 9th grade,” Arizpe
said. “I always wanted to finish high school and then go to college, but I never
had the courage to take the first step. When I would be in the car driving down Garfield
and pass the Midland College sign that reads, ‘Your College,’ I would think to myself,
‘Midland College could be my college,’ but it was always just a wish.
“One day, my oldest son Sebastian, Jr., who was then 12, asked me about high school
and college, and even though I tried to change the subject, he kept asking. So, I
had to tell him that I didn’t finish high school. I said ‘But I promise you that
I will get my high school degree.’”
Arizpe kept her promise to her son, and in early May 2012, right before Mother’s Day,
she passed the GED® exam.
“There were times when I was taking GED® classes that I would be in tears,” Arizpe
remembered. “It had been a long time since I had been in school, and I had to relearn
a lot of basic stuff like math, grammar and punctuation. I couldn’t believe it when
I got the results saying that I had passed. I printed the results of my exam and
put them in a picture frame. Then, I gave the frame to my mom for Mother’s Day.
“I remember thinking, ‘Okay, I’ve done it—now I have a high school diploma!’ I wasn’t
thinking of going to college right away, but the advisor at Cogdell encouraged me
to apply to Midland College and enroll in courses. The Cogdell staff also helped
me complete financial assistance paperwork and to apply for the Bill Pace Cogdell
In the summer of 2012, Arizpe discovered that she would receive the Cogdell Scholarship.
The Cogdell Scholarship is specifically for MC students who begin their higher education
journey at the Cogdell Learning Center. The scholarship provides 100 percent of tuition,
fees and books. After graduating from MC, the scholarship continues to pay expenses
toward a bachelor’s degree at UTPB or MC.
“I had always wanted to be a nurse since I was a little girl, and I was determined
to get into Midland College’s Associate Degree Nursing program,” Arizpe said. “It
took me four years to get accepted. I had to take several developmental math courses
at Midland College, and my instructors were extremely supportive. I was able to get
the fundamentals I needed in order to progress in more math classes and also science
classes. I took all the prerequisite courses needed to be admitted to the associate
degree nursing program. I took the TEAS [Test of Essential Academic Skills] three
times before I passed, but I FINALLY got accepted!”
Nicole Arizpe was one step closer to realizing her dream of becoming a nurse. On
Thursday, December 14, 2017, Arizpe received her nursing pin signifying that she was
a graduate of Midland College’s Associate Degree Nursing program. She became the
first person in her family to graduate from college, and she obtained a job as a nurse
at Midland Memorial Hospital where she still works today in the post-surgical unit.
Between August 2018 and May 2020, Arizpe completed the BSN program at UTPB.
“It hasn’t been without sacrifices,” Arizpe said. “My family is extremely important
Nicole’s children were mostly teenagers during the time that she was in school. Currently,
Sebastian, Jr., age 20, and Matthew, age 18, are high school graduates and are in
South America taking courses and serving as missionaries through the Discipleship
Training School offered by the University of the Nations. Adrianna, age 17, is looking
forward to her senior year at Midland High School.
“I’m forever grateful for everyone that has been a part of my journey since the moment
I made the call to the Cogdell Learning Center to now having my BSN—family, friends
and instructors!” Arizpe exclaimed.
Last month, eight years after she made that telephone call to the MC Cogdell Learning
Center inquiring about classes for a high school equivalency diploma, Nicole Arizpe
graduated with honors and a 3.93 GPA having earned a Bachelor of Science degree in