■ Editor’s note: This is one in a series of articles highlighting Mid-Plains Community College’s Imperial Extented Campus, its teachers and students.
By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
She considers herself lucky. After spending years living and studying in Mexico, Belgium and Spain, and then traveling around the world for a shoe manufacturing business, Venedith Vargas ended up in Grant, teaching Spanish, English Language Learning, Adult Basic Education (ABE) and General Educational Development (GED) classes in Grant and Imperial.
It was a long road but one that Vargas embraces as God’s gift. She is giving back to the area while her children receive an education in a small town.
Vargas, in her 40s, grew up in Mexico. She majored in international relations and minored in tourism in Madrid, Spain, and then earned a Masters of Business Administration.
Vargas had thought to major in foreign trade, but “saw that international relations was good and wanted to mix both of them.”
She worked for several years for Shoe Export of Mexico, which is a domestic company exporting shoes.
Following an automobile accident three years ago in which she suffered severe injuries, she was forced to quit working.
She endured a lot of therapy and rehabilitation and still uses a walker.
That accident “allowed me the time to come here,” she pointed out.
In the summer of 2013 she brought son Werner, 14, and daughter Andrea, 16, to Grant to visit Dave and Nora Mendick. Nora had been a host family for Vargas in Scottsbluff her senior year of high school.
“It started as a summer trip, but we decided to stay,” she said, after meeting the principal and superintendent of Perkins County High School. “They were so kind.”
“Given my personal situation it seemed good” to make the move, Vargas said. “It feels good to have my kids in a small place.”
Bilingual since college, Vargas began teaching several women in Grant in the fall of 2013, followed by English as a Second Language classes. By March 2014 she had contacted Mid-Plains Community College and was hired to teach ABE and GED at the Imperial campus.
“I wanted to do something, anything I could share with the community,” she explained.
Having taught international business in college for years, Varas wanted to help people gain education as adults.
“I thought it was the best opportunity for students to be enrolled, the best for themselves but also for their families and the community.”
Of her ABE and GED students, Vargas said they are being challenged, because they’re working and have busy schedules. “They’re taking time for learning and the importance of having skills. Once you take that type of challenge it gives you a different perspective.”
She added most of the students are also taking the classes for their kids and spouses.
“You show them what they’re capable of doing and new doors are open to them.”
Imperial Extended Campus Coordinator Brenda Ledall said of Vargas, “She’s such a caring person, doing such a wonderful job.”
Because of her move to Grant, Vargas says she’s been blessed with a welcoming school for her children and a welcoming church, the United Methodist Church.
In fact, women from that church drive her to and from Imperial every week for her classes, as she is unable to drive.
“I totally understand why we’re here,” Vargas stated. “It’s just been so great. We’re so blessed. It’s all in God’s hands.”