Texas Border Business
By Amanda Sotelo
A product of South Texas College and its Valley Scholars Program, Deisy Perez is leading successful careers as a real estate investor, actress and most recently, travel advisor.
It all started for the 41-year-old in 1999, when the top 10% high school graduate had her pick of colleges, but family values left her struggling in her decision.
“I couldn’t go away for school, that was a rule,” she said. “But, fortunately for me, STC offered a great education, close to home. It did not disappoint…I owe a lot of what I do today to STC.”
Raised by her grandmother, the first-generation college graduate had a few obstacles to overcome when it came to the college and financial aid application process, but being selected as part of the third Valley Scholars Program cohort changed her outlook and her path.
STC’s Valley Scholars Program promotes academic excellence by providing financial assistance, academic support services, mentoring and leadership development to students from Hidalgo and Starr Counties. It also offers numerous community service initiatives student participate in throughout the year.
“As a Valley Scholar, I felt like a VIP student,” she said. “We got a lot of one-on-one help, advising and were introduced to several resources that helped us every step of the way. It was a great way to start.”
As a recipient of the Valley Scholars scholarship, Perez had her tuition and fees covered for two years, allowing her to earn an associate degree in Business Administration in 2001.
“This was a huge help for my family,” she said. “Along with financial aid, this scholarship saved us thousands of dollars and allowed both me and my sister, who was also a Valley Scholar, the opportunity to kickstart our careers and become the first in our families to earn college degrees.”
STC was also the first place that introduced Perez to the business world, offering her the opportunity to serve as a work study for the campus’ business office and because she was a Valley Scholar, she was assigned a mentor, who also offered her a job at a downtown jewelry store.
“I know things have changed and mentors aren’t done anymore through the program, but for me it was significant,” Perez said. “The experiences I had while at STC taught me how to be a leader, how to apply lessons in the classroom to real-world work and the importance of serving others.”
Since graduating from STC, Perez has gone on to earn a bachelor’s degree in International Business Administration from Texas A&M-Kingsville, started her career as an analyst at a local bank and returned to STC as a graphic artist before working with prominent airlines in Chicago and most recently as a travel advisor for JP Morgan Chase.
“I really have done a little bit of everything…my work has allowed me to explore and try my hand in different skills. They really have been dream jobs,” she said. “At the end of the day, it all comes back to business, and now for me focusing on my bottom line.”
To invest in herself and her future, Perez recently entered the realm of real estate investment, purchasing and selling homes in Chicago; South Padre Island, where she has her latest vacation rental; and soon, in Tulum, Mexico.
“It was advice from a great mentor who said, ‘Make your money work for you now, not later,’ so I went into real estate investing so I can create passive income, save for retirement and enjoy my life now,” said Perez. “It has opened doors for me and a sense of freedom that has allowed me to live in the moment and see places I never thought possible.”
Besides being an avid traveler to 44 countries, she has also pursued acting, a lifelong dream of hers, recently signing with an agent and booking commercials and spots as an extra for companies such as Chili’s and Netflix. And, she’s self-published a journal, which is available on Amazon.
“I’m so grateful to STC and the Valley Scholars Program. It opened doors to everything I have accomplished,” she said. “It broadened my horizons to what I could do, and I’ve always known that I wanted to give back.”
Perez said she is grateful to the program and for the continuous assistance it provides students of the RGV.
“This program creates leaders, it’s transformative,” said Perez. “It helped me, and I want to help others, motivate others and show them what is possible as a Valley Scholar and STC graduate.”
STC’s Valley Scholars Program will host its annual fundraising gala, A Night with the Stars, on October 13.
To sponsor, become a donor and learn more about STC’s Valley Scholars Program, visit southtexascollege.edu/nightwithstars/index.html