Gaby ignored her Breakthrough Austin advisor, Byron, for a long time. She was sure that her plan to get certified as a Medical Assistant through Southern Careers Institute was the right path for her, so when Byron first told her about PelotonU, she wasn’t interested. “I thought I had a good plan in place, that I was on the track I wanted.”

But as her teachers quit and the $700 per month tuition caught up to her, Gaby began to reconsider. “I realized I wasn’t getting a good education at Southern Careers — especially not for how much I was paying. Plus, I worked from 9–6 every day and then went to classes from 7–11 pm at night. I was exhausted.”

Byron brought her to PelotonU’s office so she could meet the team and ask her questions. “I’d always wanted to earn a college degree, but in my junior year when all the application prep started, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to afford it.” Though Gaby has permission to work legally in the US, Gaby can’t receive federal financial aid because of her immigration status. This has left her with few educational options to pursue her dream of being a nurse.

Gaby changed jobs so that she could enroll at PelotonU. Eager to get started in the medical field, she took a job as a caregiver for Alzheimer’s patients. Her face lights up when she talks about her job — it’s clear that she’s meant to help people.

Even though she loves her job, the struggle to balance work and school is real. “We’re short-staffed, and so I get called in a lot when I’m not supposed to work. I’m glad that I have a flexible schedule at PelotonU — that I get to come in when I can, based off my work schedule, and that it’s okay if I have to change it.”

Gaby is studying at College for America through Southern New Hampshire University. She started with no credits and is on track to earn her Associate’s degree within 6 months. After, she will earn a few in-person nursing pre-requisites at a local community college and then transfer to a four year program to earn her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing.

Even with her incredible focus and determination, she knows it will be a hard road but she “can’t wait until I have my degree and get working as a nurse. I want to make a difference in the healthcare field and provide patients with the best care possible.”

Gaby will earn her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing by 2018.