Valerie Enriquez | Transforming Lives - Skill Sets for Mega Success

Meet Valerie Enriquez, this remarkable woman has dedicated her life to serving first generation students. Her dynamic energy, passion and commitment is inspirational. Find out how she is breaking the generational cycle of poverty with her 5 skill sets for mega success.

Give us a bit of background about yourself.

I was born and raised in Tucson, AZ. I was the oldest child so I naturally had a bossy attitude. But ironically, in my early years I grew up a very shy and timid girl. I was very aware of the perimeter of my comfort zone and I made sure to never cross it. I spent hours dreaming of the “what if’s” of life. The goals I could accomplish. The dreams that could come true. But I didn’t have enough courage to start.

As I got older I grew very frustrated. I found myself going through the motions of life. Not living my full potential and living a substandard life. I was tired of letting my fear control every decision and I was tired of letting my dreams die with each day that passed by. It was time to break the mold and break the cycle. I made the decision to be in charge of my life and took the first leap. That is when my entrepreneur journey began.

I was 20 years old when Tucson International Academy came into my life. All it takes is one person and one opportunity to change your life forever. For me it was TIA and the superintendent/owners of the school Dr. Jennifer Herrera and Mr. Wences Herrera. That was the day my fire and passions were ignited. The mission and vision of our school is “We make college come true!” We are a kindergarten to 12th grade school with 100% of our students accepted into college for the past 11 years. We are the only school in our state that not only gets 100% of our students accepted into college, but also gets them accepted into college every year with multiple scholarships. The demographic in which we serve are first generation students. In some cases, first generation to graduate from high school and/or first generation to go to college.

The majority of our students come to TIA with a mindset of wanting to break the generational cycle of poverty but don’t know how or don’t know where to begin. We have developed a set of 5 skill sets called “Skill Sets for Mega Success”. These skill sets strengthen the students in the areas of 1.) Communication 2.) Thinking Skills 3.) Learning Skills 4.) Entrepreneurship and 5.) Personal Development.

These are the same skill sets you need to get into college as well as start and run a business. We are a gateway for those students that want to go to college and see it as an opportunity for a better future.

Tell us about some of your amazing achievements

At the age of 28 I was a member of the school’s leadership team and became a principal. At that time the campus I was in charge of was the smallest in our district. In one year, I doubled our enrollment numbers and had no choice but to expand our infrastructure. By the age of 29 I was leading/managing the largest campus in our district. I assisted with the school’s building expansion and hiring of additional staff needed to accommodate the growing numbers. I took so much pride in every detail of the building expansion. From picking out the tile, the carpet, the furniture, etc. Every detail was a personal stamp of success for me.

I knew this was an environment where children were going to start their own journey of success. Five years later, it continues to be our largest campus. By the age of 30 I was leading/managing two campuses within our district. Around the same time the organization was up for renewal with the state school board. I was chosen to co-lead the school’s charter renewal.

This 2-year project challenged me beyond anything I was ever used to. It was a project that took a team to get through and the end result would determine whether or not Tucson International Academy would continue to serve students. It went from being a personal success to leaving a legacy for generations of students now and in the future. That was the point in my life when I realized my career was more than just a “career”. It was a lifestyle.

The day the team and I took our charter renewal before the board and they gave us a unanimous “Yes”, was the most rewarding day of my life. I knew TIA was going to continue to impact students’ lives and continue to be the light on top of the hill.

Do you ever lose motivation? If so, how do you stay motivated?

As years go by there is more and more talk about how education is broken. Education and teachers aren’t as valued as they once were. It’s easy to get sucked into being “hurt” or sucked into a complaining session. I witnessed fellow educators get so consumed by the negativity that they lost their focus and eventually strayed from Education. In life nothing is “perfect”. There are grey areas in all facets of life.

I am a firm believer there are seasons in every part of the road to success. The true test of your success is your attitude when things are falling apart all around you. For me, what keeps me positive and motivated is seeing those “light bulb” moments in the students when something they have been struggling with finally clicks. Or seeing the joy and excitement in their face when they get their first college acceptance letter. The ray of sunshine shining through the cloud of educational politics are the successes of the students.

What are three business and life lessons you have learned?

1. Learning never stops! Personal growth is so important. Things are constantly changing in the world of business and, in order to continue to be the best in your field, you have to keep learning and growing.

2. Surround yourself with like-minded people. If you want to be successful you have to surround yourself with successful people. People who are going to challenge you and push you to go to the next level. The worst thing in any entrepreneur’s life, is staying stagnant.

3. It is lonely at the top and crowed at the bottom. I learned this from JT Foxx, The Worlds #1 Wealth Coach. So, do your best to build a solid team. A team of people that share the same mission and vision. I am blessed to have an amazing team of people that are running towards the same goal.

How do you differentiate yourself from others? What makes you unique?

Our team for the first time attended the JT Foxx Mega Success in November 2017. The superintendent of the organization, Dr. Jennifer Herrera, was one of the speakers; speaking and getting noticed by a crowd of 2500 people! We also had a table in the networking lobby advertising the umbrella of our organization which is World Education Network and the 5 Skill Sets for Mega Success. In preparing for this event it forced us to evaluate our organization.

In doing so we realized we were the only school in the state of Arizona that has 100% of our students accepted into college and what a big deal that truly was. While we were networking with other business people from around the world, they were in awe of what we do and how we do it. It wasn’t until then we realized the magnitude of what we were doing.

What we considered second nature, it was an anomaly to others. This past year we had a student not only get accepted into college here in America, but he also got accepted into college in another country. Taking and utilizing The Skill Sets for Mega Success he learned with TIA and putting them to use in another country. He is finding success not only in academics, but in sports as well. He was able to receive a soccer scholarship that will help him financially.

Since you have become successful, how do you handle haters?

On the road to success you have to be ok with people not liking you or with people even hating you. It took me a while to get used to this. I am a natural people-pleaser and caregiver. I had to completely change my way of thinking. The more you accomplish in life and the higher you go, the more haters you will have. You have to remember not everyone thinks or acts like you.

They will think you are weird because of the way you act and talk. You will definitely lose friends. You will be made fun of and told “you don’t have a life” because all you do is work. I have gone through it all and still go through it today. What they call “work” I call “my passion”.

I have had people I have invested years of time and energy in turn around and walk away. In return, I was left cleaning the mess they left behind due to leaving so abruptly and without warning. You do start to build a wall of resentment. But I knew I didn’t want to live my life resenting people.

That is a toxic way of living. So, instead I became smart about who I brought along with me. I also learned how to cut and block negative people out of my life. After 12 years of working with the same leadership team, the number one quality we value is loyalty.

What advice do you have for fellow female entrepreneurs?

Competence equals confidence. Know your field! Continue to learn and grow as things change in the business world. Begin with the end in mind. Be clear about your mission and vision. Don’t lose focus. Learn from your failures. Failure and success go hand in hand. Learn from your failures and don’t repeat them.

Maximize your strengths. Be aware of your strengths and lead with them. Mental Toughness. You have to have the ability to tune out negativity. Be prepared for people to disappoint you.

How do you deal with failure?

Honestly, in the beginning I struggled with the pain that followed with failing, but I soon realized failure is part of success. They go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. In order to succeed you have to fail. I have seen so many entrepreneurs focus too much on their failure that they don’t move forward any more. They lose their focus and give up. But failure is just another opportunity to learn and grow. You have to use it as a stepping stone to success.

What do you think is most important, motivation or execution, and why?

Motivation. Without motivation you won’t see the value in execution. When I was working on the charter renewal project it was so overwhelming. I knew it was all going to come down to the way the team and I executed our work to the charter board. However, it was a 2-year project that consumed my entire life and if I didn’t stay motivated it was going to fall apart and we wouldn’t have the opportunity to execute our project before the board. Motivation will lead you to execution.

What are your core business principles and values you adhere to?

Integrity, honesty and loyalty is the core of every successful business. The scaffolding to the business may be attractive to customers but without a solid core, the business is hollow and with one small nudge the business will crumble. Make sure you stick to your principles and let your values root your business into the ground.

What is the secret to your success?

There is no secret to success. It is a lot of work, late nights, early mornings and weekends. It is understanding the road map to success changes, sometimes daily. As long as you know “Giving Up” is never an option you will see the fruit of your perseverance much sooner than you think. And it will all be worth it!

What do you feel is a weakness you struggle with?

For me I don’t see my weaknesses as flaws. I see them as opportunities for personal growth. And personal growth contributes to success. They go hand in hand. I struggle with being assertive. That is definitely an area for improvement. I also hate to disappoint people or to let them down. Which, in some sense, is motivation to succeed. So, you see, sometimes your weaknesses are blessings in disguise. Learn to embrace them and go easy on yourself.


Valerie Enriquez | Principal | Tucson International Academy

2700 W. Broadway Blvd.,Tucson, AZ 85745

Phone (520)792-3255 Email