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Mother, daughter pair graduate from TAMUK on same day with same degrees

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Erica Esquivel and Abigail Alexis Hernandez-Meza

Erica Esquivel and Abigail Alexis Hernandez-Meza

KINGSVILLE (May 9, 2024) — A little over two years ago, two prospective students came to campus for a visit to see if they wanted to continue their social work education. The campus was Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK) and the students were Erica Esquivel and her daughter, Abigail Alexis Hernandez-Meza, both from San Benito. Both graduate from TAMUK at 1:30 p.m. Friday, May 10, with bachelor’s degrees in social work.


“During one of our classes at Texas Southmost College (TSC) our professor allowed two social work professors from the TAMUK program to speak to graduating students about transferring to Kingsville,” said Abigail. “After the presentation, we scheduled a campus visit. By the end of that campus visit April 19, 2022, we decided that we would continue our education at TAMUK.”


They lived only five minutes from each other while taking classes at TSC, but once they started course work for their bachelor’s degrees, Erica stayed in San Benito commuting once a week while Abigail relocated to Kingsville.


“While at TAMUK, I have experienced what it is to create a community,” Abigail said. “By the end of my time here, I developed close relationships with all of my peers, professors and even university administration.”


Erica agreed, “The culture of the campus is warm and welcoming.”


“Attending school with my mother was motivational, Abigail said. “There were moments when I was experiencing burnout and my mother’s empathy and compassion would keep me going. I would think about the challenges my mother had to overcome throughout her own educational journey and found inspiration from her dedication.”


Erica said she relied heavily on her daughter through her hardships. “Abigail had a beautiful baby girl mid-semester, and she was doing assignments while in the hospital. That is the drive and passion needed to make the difference in our chosen field of social work,” Erica said. “Also, I fell ill last semester and the support from Abigail and my peers was appreciated.”


Abigail was originally a nursing student and made the switch to social work. “Ever since I was a child, I have always had a passion for helping others. I assumed that with a nursing degree I would be able to help my community. However, after a few semesters in nursing classes and working for hospice, I realized the hard truth, which is sometimes nursing is just to make clients comfortable instead of helping them.


“I went to my university advisor at the time and she suggested I transfer to social work. After taking an introduction class, I realized that social work was exactly what I wanted to do because it would allow me to serve my community,” Abigail said.


“Once I receive my master’s degree, I hope to become an immigration social worker. As an immigration social worker, I would be able to assist immigrants in finding the resources they need in order to thrive within our community,” she said. “I am especially passionate about immigration as my father is a Cuban refugee. I have seen the unfair treatment of immigrants and want to be a part of a change by educating and advocating for my clients.”


“I chose social work because I genuinely enjoy working with people and helping improve their living situation by reaching out to resources according to their needs,” Erica said. “My passion is working with geriatrics.”


Erica said she would recommend Texas A&M-Kingsville to other students looking to transfer to a four-year university. “TAMUK has affordable tuition and has an incredible amount of services for the students. I can say that as a mother and a student. I knew that if my daughter fell on hardship there were services like the Javelina Care Closet that provides food, clothing and school supplies.


“We were part of Phi Alpha, an honor society for social work and as our philanthropy project; we chose to make a donation to the care closet. By choosing it, we knew we were making a donation that directly benefits other students.”


Abigail would also recommend TAMUK because of the support system for students. In addition, she said the low student to teacher ratio also is a factor. “I believe my success stemmed from having classes that allowed me to establish rapport with my professors.”


The future looks bright for the mother-daughter duo even though Erica has not decided her next step…pursue her master’s degree now or take a break. Abigail, however, has applied for Texas A&M-Kingsville’s master’s program in social work and hopes someday to be an immigration social worker.



Category: General Univ , Arts/Sciences

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