Elsa Vidales moved from Mexico to Oklahoma at the age of 15. Speaking no English made her first day of high school so intimidating and confusing, she begged until her aunt picked her halfway through the day. She graduated from NW Classen in 2001 and struggled through one semester at Rose State College before dropping out.
“The language barrier was too challenging. Coming from a family that didn’t attend school past 5th grade, I didn’t have much support for continuing school rather than working,” Elsa explained.
For the next several years, Elsa worked two jobs, including one as a housekeeper, and gave birth to a little girl. At the age of 30, with her body aching from long days of hard labor, she enrolled at Metro Tech as a full-time student in the Administrative Assistant Program with Cynthia Samuels.
Elsa admits the program was harder than she imagined.
“I was so far behind technically that even typing was hard for me. Gabby was in my class and much more advanced, so she helped me often. I struggled with self-confidence, but Ms. Samuels continued to encourage me. I had to keep going in order to show my daughter what’s possible for her,” she smiled.
When Nickole Clark from Tinker Federal Credit Union visited Elsa’s classroom to discuss the internship program, Elsa lit up. She always wanted to work in a bank with normal hours, “and fix my hair for work instead of putting it in a bun to get sweaty.” At the encouragement of Ms. Samuels, Elsa met with Nickole and they connected.
“Nickole took me under her wing and I needed that. For the last 10 years, I’ve needed a life coach, a mentor. Someone to push and encourage me,” Elsa said.
Nickole never doubted Elsa’s capabilities. Less than two months into the internship program, she recommended Elsa for a part-time teller position, and prepared her to interview.
“Elsa is now an employee of TFCU and was recently the #3 employee out of 22 branches in a program we call “Make it Count” where TFCU members rank employees on customer service. Elsa routinely gets perfect surveys, and her self-confidence has improved considerably. I helped prepare her, but she got the job and excels all on her own,” Nickole said.
More quality time with her family, working in a fun environment with co-workers she enjoys and helping people keeps Elsa excited about her new journey. With TFCU paying 100% of employee tuition, she plans to continue her education and continue excelling at TFCU.