Never Too Late

by Ashley Johnson | Photo by Jason Flowers

When Gloria Espinosa, the mobile mammography coordinator at UT Southwestern, was turned down for a promotion because she lacked a college degree, she knew it was time for a change.

“I was a finalist for a director’s position at UT Southwestern, but I was competing against someone with a master’s degree,” Gloria said. “One of my mentors suggested I make it my goal to complete my bachelor’s and master’s degree so I wouldn’t be turned down again. That’s when I discovered A&M-Commerce.”

Gloria hadn’t planned to put off completing her bachelor’s degree. Three years into her undergraduate work at Texas A&M University, she got married and transferred to the University of Houston. It was a very different atmosphere than A&M, so she entered a nuclear medicine program with Baylor College of Medicine. Once she completed the program, however, she was recruited right away, and put off finishing her degree.

By the time she decided to go back to school, nearly 30 years had passed. It was a turning point in her life and career.

“It was exciting, but intimidating because the transcripts I requested were now in the archives,” Gloria said. “Some of the schools I looked at wouldn’t even accept some of the classes I had taken anymore. Not only did A&M-Commerce accept more of my credit hours, they gave me the most direct path to graduation thanks to the applied arts and sciences program.”

Knowing it would have been nearly impossible to finish her degree in a traditional classroom setting, Gloria embraced the online learning format of the B.A.A.S. program. I still had opportunities to meet with professors on campus, and the students in my classes were just like me, working full time with families. We helped each other quite a bit.

When graduation arrived 18 months later, Gloria looked down her row and noticed how old she was in comparison to her fellow graduates, but it didn’t matter, she had done it.

Today, Gloria continues to manage UT Southwestern’s mobile mammography unit with a renewed passion and understanding of the business world she works in each day thanks to her time at A&M-Commerce.

“We’ve worked hard to make the mobile mammography accessible to everyone throughout the community,” Gloria said. “Our 18-wheeler unit visits more than 150 corporations each year, and is a visible addition to several community events. Thanks to a grant from the Dallas Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, we also have the privilege of providing 1000 free screenings to uninsured women in Dallas County each year.”

As one of 25 inaugural members of a master’s in management and administrative sciences program with UT Dallas School of Management; a program designed uniquely for UT Southwestern Management staff, Gloria continues to set her sights on bigger, bolder goals.

“We put these walls up in front of our dreams thinking we are never going to achieve them,” Gloria said. “I lost something I really wanted because I didn’t have a college degree. Now, the sky is the limit. Maybe I’ll get a Ph.D. I’ve gone this far; I know I can keep going.”