When Brianda Jimenez-Sanchez’s husband died in a tragic car accident, she had to be strong for their two daughters even though there seemed to be nowhere to turn, and nowhere to set down her unthinkable grief.
Reno physician Dr. Ron Aryel had been their children’s’ pediatrician for about five years. Putting her five- and eight-year-old daughters first, she sought advice and a counseling referral from him.
“He offered me help,” Sanchez said. “He said the best thing I could do for myself is get a college education.”
At the time, she was working for the Washoe County School District as a teaching assistant in a Pre-K classroom, an hourly job, with no benefits when working less than 27.5 hours per week. However, in this job position she gained a sense of purpose in helping children learn.
“It showed me I want to help people and I want to be there for someone, to make a difference for someone,” she said. “I want to be there like the people who helped me when my husband died.”
Dr. Aryel offered her a work-study fellowship program, and she decided to accept it.
“I’m really thirsty to learn,” she added.
The Fall Semester
Sanchez is beginning her first college classes at Truckee Meadows Community College during Fall Semester. She plans to complete her associate degree at TMCC, transfer to the University of Nevada, Reno, and major in a helping profession such as nursing or psychology.
“They were just dreams before,” she said. “Having the right people in your path, it really helps motivate you. I don’t want to be the stereotype of a single widowed mother relying on welfare, I want to go out and do something for myself so that people don’t say ‘poor her’ but ‘good for her,’ and that they look at me for what I’ve accomplished.”
Sanchez and her daughters do homework together at the same table.
“It’s for my children; seeing that their mom can do it, that they can do it too,” she said. “They see me doing homework and they do homework, as well.”
A requirement for the award is that she maintains a B average. It’s also a work-study, and Sanchez’s job now is serving as an assistant at The Reno Center for Child and Adolescent Health where Dr. Aryel practices.
The Albee Aryel Work-Study Fellowship
The award comprises a full scholarship to TMCC including tuition and books, part-time employment, mentorship, tutoring, and if needed, health insurance. It will also help with a portion of a student’s junior and senior years toward a bachelor’s degree.
Dr. Aryel began the Albee Aryel Work Study Fellowship to honor his late mother. Albee Aryel was a native of Baghdad, the capital of Iraq.
Mrs. Aryel fled persecution in her home country and found new life and accomplishment in the United States, said Dr. Aryel.
“We identified Brianda as someone with a lot of potential,” he added. “Her lack of a university diploma limits her opportunities to make a meaningful contribution to our community and our economy. It also limits her children’s opportunities. The Fellowship is a means to help Brianda gain an advanced education and a profession.”
An Education is Joyful for Sanchez
Sanchez said that her favorite part of college so far is learning from her teachers.
“It’s the professors; you have a lot to learn from these people,” she said. “It’s the passion they feel for what they’re doing. The root of learning a subject is who it comes from. I like the way you’re talking to someone and they pull you in to be interested in it.”
And she looks forward to each English class.
“I like the way that my English teacher approaches class and life,” Sanchez said. “She says to speak out and not be silent, to take the chance to be wrong sometimes, to let your voice be heard.”
Sanchez is also excited about taking psychology courses.
“I respect psychology for what it did for me and my two daughters,” she added.
Another Albee Aryel Work-Study Fellow has been chosen by Reno Center for Child and Adolescent Health and will soon be added to the program.
There are also many scholarships available at TMCC. For information about the more than 200 scholarships available at TMCC, please contact the TMCC Foundation at 775-674-7648.