How a pen, getting laid off and a game of Trivial Pursuit showed DSS’s Delia De Luna it is never too late to go to college.
By Jakoby West
A game of Trivial Pursuit helped Delia De Luna, senior generalist of student success in disability support services, realize she was college material.
She never imagined herself graduating from college, let alone working for one, De Luna said Feb. 15 in an interview.
“When I graduated from high school, I didn’t think I needed college. I was working and I figured I would eventually work my way up and make some money and life would be wonderful,” she said.
Her sentiment rang true for 21 years as she worked her way up in the grocery business.
She worked through high school at Handy Andy, which is now Arlan’s Market, all the way up to staffing coordinator and customer service manager at Kroger.
In June of 1993, Kroger was beginning to shut down stores in San Antonio.
“I was one of 1,500 employees who was laid off from Kroger. We had 60 days to close our stores and in that time (I thought), ‘What am I going to do?'” she said.
So what sparked the idea of college in the mind of someone adamantly against attending?
A game of Trivial Pursuit.
On a road trip to Astroworld, De Luna and friends began playing the game without the board or pieces and just reading the cards, she said.
“Questions are being answered, and I am (the one) just shouting out the answers. I have no idea where these answers came from. I have no idea where that knowledge came from. That made me just really think ‘Wow, what can I do?'”
Kevin Moore, a longtime friend and Kroger colleague of De Luna’s, believes a cashier’s favorite pen to be the catalyst to De Luna’s college career.
“The customer had just walked out the door with (the pen). Delia offered to retrieve it,” Moore said.
Though polite as she was, the customer began to get angry at De Luna about asking for the pen, Moore said.
This incident led to De Luna’s store transfer to the Kroger located across San Pedro Avenue from this college, where she would begin taking classes two weeks after the store had shut down.
“My store manager had a degree, and I thought if he could do it, I can do it,” De Luna said.
De Luna was introduced to disability support services in 1994. She was asked by Edie Huff, now the senior supervisor under outreach recruitment, to take notes for a deaf student.
“She was engaged in the classroom. She was very thorough in notetaking. She wasn’t shy about asking questions of the professor for clarification. And she was always there, so she was responsible and you could see that she was a very serious student. So the student that was in the classroom needed a notetaker so I asked her how she’d like to become a notetaker, ” Huff said in an interview Feb. 23.
De Luna took notes on a special type of paper that immediately provided a copy, a service made easier by the modernization of computers and printing, she said.
De Luna started working for disability support services, known as DSS, in 1996, where she worked three years part time.
“Working part time was wonderful. I truly enjoyed it. When the opportunity arose that there was an opening (for a full-time position). I was asked if I would consider it. I really did have to think about it because I really did enjoy working part time,” De Luna said.
Having to hire employees at Kroger, De Luna was familiar with the hiring process and knew that employers always hire the candidate best suited for the job. There was no guarantee she would be hired, but she knew she had to start somewhere, De Luna said.
“When the committee made the choice to hire me, that was amazing. Here I am, starting a new career at age 44,” she said.
De Luna went on to earn an associate degree in accounting technology at this college.
She said she is able to share not only her life experiences to help DSS students but also her work and experience as a student.
“I am always happy to share especially if my experiences can motivate someone to achieve their dream or their goal. I always tell them I am a success story, and they can be one too,” she said.
De Luna has worked 18 years full time with DSS, where she still works today.
“There’s a reason why I’m still here years later. It’s because I feel like I can make a difference. This has been a good place to me. It has given so much to me. Yes, I do help students, I assist them, and I try my best. But also I have learned so much from them. They have truly made me a better person. They teach me something everyday. They make me smile,” De Luna said.
As technology advances, there have been many changes to DSS. The students are able to teach her, especially when it comes to computers, she said.
“From changes in the Americans with Disabilities Act to our move from the first floor of Chance Academic Center building to the first floor of Moody Learning Center, we have always strived to accommodate our students to the best of our abilities and do what we can to make that happen,” De Luna said.