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Student Success at RSC Avondale

Our students come from all walks of life, and have many personal stories to tell. Here are a few of the stories from students at Rio Salado College Avondale. These stories are inspiring, just like the students themselves, and showcase how people can use education to open doors to a better future.

Robin Ashley 

Robin Ashley - HSE

Robin Ashley is a current student in Rio Salado’s AACE Program (Adults Achieving a College Education).  Of her transition she states “I am a recovering addict.  I spent a lot of years wasting my life. I got clean five years ago and decided then that I wanted to live life, not just exist.  I learned to live life on life’s term and after a few years I decided to get my GED at Rio Salado.  My kids know the old me and now they know the new mom.  I just want to set a better example than I used to be.  Once I got my GED…I got excited about my future.  I started dreaming bigger and knew that only I can be the creator of my life.  I am going back to school to earn my college degree and I am - for the first time in my life - proud of myself.  I learned the hard way that life is what you make of it.  You can only get out of it what you put in.”

Robin has progressed not only in her personal life, but in her professional life as well.  Since graduating with her GED, she has not only been accepted and is currently completing her AACE classes, she is also working at her dream job at a Real Estate Investment Company.  She is working and hopes to advance with this company once she earns her degree.

Reynaldo Tellez 

Reynaldo Tellez - HSE

Reynaldo Tellez received his GED after attending classes at Rio Salado College.  He states “I would someday like to be a counselor and to assist adults who have lost confidence in themselves as I did once.  My goal would be to instill in them all the dreams and potential they have to offer.”  Reynaldo also states “I am now in my late 40’s and have come to the realization that I want more out of life. I have begun to dream again and I realize that I am not too old to go back to school.”  He finds strength not only from his own experiences but also from the hope that he plans to pass onto others who may have also lost their way.  He is actively involved in church, attends college now through the AACE Program and has been working in his field for the past 20 years.  He has had the same job for the last 10 years and is looking forward to what lies ahead for him.

Reynaldo has made quite the impression not only on his classmates, but also on his instructors.  When he was in his GED classes, he was known for his persistence and for his positivity.  He helped others to see that change is possible and he continues to work towards these goals in his AACE classes.

Ines Calva 

Ines Calva - ELAA

In 1999 Ines Calva came to the United States from Puebla, Mexico. At the age of 17 years old, she wanted to go to school. However, she was told that she could not on account of her age. Nevertheless, she stumbled on an ELAA program in California which she did not complete. Soon thereafter, she became depressed. She grew negative and angry. She felt sorry for herself to the point of committing suicide. One day she thought she was home alone and wanted to commit suicide, but she was not home alone. Her mother was there and helped soothe her pain.

A month later, she was attending church and heard about a retreat. She did not know what to expect from it. When she was asked to join the church on the retreat, she took the offer for a weekend and began to explore new things. She was looking for happiness and a new approach to her life.

Ines attended the retreat and discovered new ideas. Her Christian belief increased as well. The retreat had a huge impact on her life. The experience opened her mind and heart to what was really important to her. While reading the newspaper one day, she heard about Rio Salado College in Avondale. She decided to come and sign up for classes. She said, “I want to better myself and increase my vocabulary skills.” She has been attending classes for over a year now. She stated that she really enjoyed it a lot. She does not let being tired keep her from coming to classes. She definitely wants more out of life and is doing what it takes.

Neptaly Zelaya


Neptaly Zelaya – ELAA

Neptaly Zelaya came to the United States in 1994 from Honduras at the age of 16 years old. Neptaly’s first job was at the 99 Cents Store.  At one point, he used to earn $20.00 a day while working a twelve hour day.  Neptaly recalled his first day on the job.   His boss asked him to go and buy water. Since he was new to the English language, he didn’t understand what his boss was asking. He thought he was sending him to buy alcohol.  In his country another word for alcohol is guaro. This situation caused him to think further about his English as well as his education level.   Neptaly said he had heard about Rio Salado College and wanted to attend.  One year later he was enrolled at the school.

After working a few years, Neptaly got married and received his citizenship and started working as a truck driver. A few years later, he and his family started a trucking company called, United Express Transport Inc. Today he has a second business. However, one thing Neptaly says that he has learned is “No matter how many jobs you can get or how good the jobs are, everyone needs an education. “ He says he has 5 children and it is hard work going back to school, but he has goals.  Neptaly  wants to finish his ELAA studies, obtain his GED, and  take college courses in order to become a Computer Technician.