(HARLINGEN/FORT BEND) – It will be three years in May since Vanessa Vasquez became part of the Texas State Technical College family to share the passion she has for student recruitment.
It is this same passion and dedication she exhibits daily that has earned her the honor of being a 2018 TSTC Chancellor’s Excellence Award recipient.
“I literally cried when I found out,” she said. “I was astonished and never expected anything like this to happen to me.”
The Brownsville native and TSTC executive director of admissions joins 15 other honorees statewide who were given the award by TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser for their distinguished service and dedication to the college, their communities and the state.
“Their caring and dedicated efforts embolden us all to make a difference in the success of our teams and the lives of our students,” said Reeser. “These teammates were nominated by their peers, recommended by their provosts and vice chancellors, and chosen as faculty and staff who model excellence in our college every day.”
Vasquez, who is also a first-generation college graduate, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Teaching-Early Childhood Education in 2007 and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education in 2012, both from the University of Texas at Brownsville, which is now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
It was at UTB where Vasquez first discovered her passion for higher education as a work-study student in the Admissions and Records department.
“My first job became what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” said Vasquez. “The experience of working with students from the time they enter our college’s doors to the time they walk across the stage in a cap and gown is invaluable to me. It makes me believe that what I do matters and changes lives.”
After Vasquez’s four-year stint in work-study, she went to work for six years as a transcript evaluator and later as a recruiter at UTB. She then worked as the admissions and records coordinator for Texas Southmost College for another three years before moving to TSTC.
“I was immediately interested in checking out TSTC. I knew it wasn’t an ordinary college, and I wanted to be a part of that,” she said.
Vasquez said it was the hands-on training and one-on-one teaching offered to TSTC students that drew her to the college as the advisement and testing center coordinator.
“TSTC has exceeded all of my expectations,” she added. “They have opened my eyes to the opportunities they provide and have been a game changer for even my family.”
After only one year with TSTC, Vasquez received her promotion as executive director and made the move to TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus, where she now resides. But she didn’t leave by herself.
“A four-year college wasn’t for my youngest brother, and he had given up on the dream of a college degree,” she said. “But when I introduced him to TSTC and invited him to come with me, he agreed and is now a college graduate with a certificate in welding.”
Vasquez added that this, along with the rest of her siblings having become college graduates, is a huge success for a family that lost their father at a young age and grew up in a single-parent home.
Christine Stuart-Carruthers, TSTC’s vice president of student development and senior enrollment services officer, said that the greatest assets Vasquez brings to the team are her passion for helping students and her leadership.
“She is motivated to help students achieve their dream of completing a college education, and her passion is contagious. She is always motivating those around her and lending a helping hand,” said Carruthers. “Vanessa has been instrumental in helping launch the Fort Bend County campus and in molding the culture so that staff are ready to take on whatever comes their way.”
Carruthers added that she is excited for Vasquez’s recognition and that her peers also recognize the hard work she puts into helping students and being a resource for others.
Vasquez said she hopes to continue growing with the college, working hard on her No. 1 goal of helping students succeed and continuing to making those who nominated her proud. She added that she doesn’t want to let them down.
Vasquez and the other TSTC Chancellor’s Award recipients will come together in May for the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development awards dinner and celebration in Austin.