Meet Liliana Fuentes, AVANCE-Austin Alumni!

Two years following Liliana Fuentes and her husband’s relocation from San Antonio to Austin, they welcomed their daughter, Melanie, into the world prematurely. Melanie’s initial months were spent in the NICU, a period fraught with uncertainty as doctors cautioned that she might not survive and, if she did, she might face significant developmental challenges. Against all odds, Melanie not only survived but also displayed remarkable resilience, although she needed extensive speech, occupational, and physical therapy upon her release from the NICU.

As time went on, Melanie continued to defy expectations, achieving milestones that her doctors had once believed were out of reach. When she turned two, her occupational therapist, who had become intimately acquainted with Liliana’s family, suggested that Melanie should interact more with children her age. In the spirit of this recommendation, Liliana was introduced to AVANCE, and the therapist personally facilitated Melanie’s enrollment in the Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP).

Liliana had left her family and friends behind when she moved, and her life soon revolved around caring for Melanie. Her sense of isolation was exacerbated by the recent loss of her mother. Nevertheless, Liliana recognized the potential of PCEP to break her out of her domestic routine and provide a beneficial experience for Melanie. However, Melanie’s strong attachment made it challenging for them to part during classes, and there were moments when Liliana contemplated withdrawing from the program due to the distress of hearing her daughter cry. It was the unwavering support of the AVANCE team during this adjustment period that helped Liliana comprehend the long-term benefits of PCEP for her family.

With this support, Liliana persisted, and over time, Melanie began to adapt to the separation. While Liliana learned the significance of socialization, Melanie embraced her newfound independence, actively participating in program activities and forming new friendships. After completing the program, Liliana maintained her connections with the friends she had made at PCEP, eventually leading to her appointment as a Teaching Assistant at AVANCE. Today, she proudly serves as a Program Assistant, continuing her journey of personal and professional growth.

Following her PCEP experience, Melanie was well-prepared for Pre-K and eager to embrace learning. Today, Melanie is on the brink of entering the fourth grade, and despite her initial shyness, she exudes confidence, curiosity, and a love for being active. She has a deep passion for the outdoors, enjoys exploring, and relishes playing soccer. In fact, she aspires to become a soccer coach in the future. Her love for reading, her favorite subject in school, has also inspired dreams of becoming a reading teacher. While she has ample time to make her decision, one thing is already evident: Melanie is on a trajectory toward a brighter future, a testament to her mother’s unwavering support and the determination of her family.