March 2017 Staff Spotlight: Michael Cuellar

By Roxana Pérez and Vita Soto

Welcome to the Next Step Alumni Spotlight! Every month throughout the school year we highlight a Next Step Staff as well as Alumni that have received their GED to check in and see how they are doing and what they’ve been up to since graduating from Next Step PCS.

For this month's Next Step Staff Spotlight, we talked with Michael Cuellar who is our Instructional Coach.

Q: What is your name? 

A: Michael Cuellar

Q: Where are you from?

A: El Paso, TX

Q: Did you encounter any challenges while attending high school/GED program? If so, can you describe what they were and how you overcame them?

A: When I was in High School I had a situation where I had to move in my grandmother even though she lived far away. I didn’t want to change schools, so I had to walk several miles each day.

Q: Why did you decide to pursue a post-secondary education?

A: I wanted to have the freedom to follow the career that I wanted to, not one that I had to.

Q: Were you the first one in your family continue their education?

A: Yes, my father didn’t go to college and my mother didn’t finish high school.

Q: Where did you continue your post-secondary education?

A: I went to USC for undergrad and SMU for my Masters.

Q: What did you study?

A: At USC I double majored in philosophy and comparative literature. At SMU I studied bilingual education.

Q:How did you pay for your post-secondary education?

A: I used a combination of scholarships, grants and loans.

Q: What was one of your biggest challenges while attending your post-secondary institution?

A: My father died the summer between my junior and senior year in college. One of my biggest challenges was returning and graduating.

Q: Who or what motivated you to continue and get through your postsecondary education?

A: I always wanted a liberal education. I felt that that was the only way that I would be able tomake my own path.

Q: Why did you decide to work in the education field?

A: I have always wanted to help others. I feel like education is the gateway to freedom and democracy.

Q:What is your current role at TNSPCS?

A: I am an instructional coach.

Q:What advice would you give to students interested in continuing to post-secondary education?

A: Never give up and always take at least one class even if it’s at a community college. Even though life may get in the way at the moment, and it often does, the progress you make will add up.  Also, study what you are passionate about. This will sustain you through a lifetime of learning.