Category Archives: Harlingen

TSTC Alum Breaks Cycle, Finds Rewarding Career

(HARLINGEN) – Olga Garcia is director of data systems at the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District — a career she never dreamed of while growing up because of her family’s circumstances.

The Harlingen native was raised in a migrant family, traveling annually to Washington state and Oregon to pick strawberries, pears and apples and not returning until September or October.

“I usually had to play catch-up in school,” said Garcia. “But it was important to my parents that I get an education. They wanted my siblings and me to have more than a life as a migrant.”

And although taking the big step of enrolling in college was exciting and scary for Garcia, she knew that as a first-generation college student this was her chance to help her family and break a cycle.TSTC Alum Olga Garcia

“College was the goal for me from the beginning,” she said. “Migrant work is hard work, and I knew an education would change the lives of many.”

Garcia’s decision to enroll in college came in the 1980s when computers were just starting to come into play. Her sister purchased one for her house and Garcia helped her set it up, sparking an interest in Garcia that has led to a successful career.

“I wanted to go to a college where I could graduate within a couple of years and immediately start working,” said Garcia. “TSTI, now TSTC, had a reputation for this so I decided to give it a try.”

In 1985 Garcia graduated with her associate degree in Data Processing from TSTC and immediately found a job with Weslaco Independent School District as a programmer. She was there for 14 years.

“The training and coursework at TSTC helped me be competitive and find a job quickly,” she said. “TSTC helped me fulfill my goal.”

Garcia credits her instructors and peers for her success.

“I had the opportunity at TSTC to work with the most experienced instructors, and the hands-on training was invaluable,” said Garcia. “And to this day I am still friends with people I met while in college.”

After her time at TSTC, Garcia went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from the University of Texas-Pan American in 1998 and a master’s degree in Education Technology from the University of Texas at Brownsville in 2011. Both colleges have since merged to become the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

After Garcia’s 14 years in Weslaco, she worked for nearly a year at TSTC’s Information Technology Help Desk before joining the Harlingen school district, where she has been for nearly 15 years and has served as assistant computer programmer, coordinator of student applications and, most recently, director.

“Never did I expect I would ever have such a successful career,” she said. “From the beginning to now, I am so blessed and grateful to be where I am today. It’s more than I could ever imagine.”

Garcia said she does not know what the future holds for her, but she is very happy and looking forward to more years with HCISD and spending time with her husband of 31 years, who she met as a student at TSTC, as well as with her children and three-year-old grandson.

“I’ve come a long way, and I hope my story can be an inspiration for others,” she said.

Garcia shared some advice. “Never give up. There are a lot of opportunities, so seek them, ask questions and ask for help,” she said. “And remember that when one door closes, another door always opens.”

For more information on programs offered at TSTC, visit

TSTC Agriculture and Culinary Students Plant Seeds of Success

(HARLINGEN) – More than 1,700 pounds of potatoes were planted on a chilly and wet Wednesday afternoon by nearly 30 Texas State Technical College Agricultural Technology and Culinary Arts students.

The farm-to-table partnership between the departments brings both programs together so that students can get different perspectives of the food business.

“This project is an effort to continue working closely with Culinary Arts on our farm-to-table initiative,” said Agricultural Technology Instructor Norberto Mendoza. “It’s great to open our students’ eyes to new experiences and opportunities.”

Both programs have been working together on this concept for nearly a year, and although culinary students have already helped to harvest vegetables and fruits, this is the first time they have helped to plant them.

The farm-to-table project gives the agriculture students the chance to give what they have grown to the culinary students to use in their kitchen.

“One of our goals as our partnership grew was to include Culinary in the planting process,” said TSTC Culinary Arts Instructor Emma Creps. “I’m excited to give my students this opportunity, and they’re excited for the experience.”

The students who participated in Wednesday’s potato planting are from the Agricultural Technology Crop Science and Culinary Arts Food Prep I classes.TSTC Potato Planting

Everything from potato cutting and treatment to planting on a one-acre lot used by Agricultural Technology was handled by the students under their instructors’ guidance.

Agricultural Technology student Irene Loya said this by far has been one of her favorite projects.

Loya, who will graduate with an associate degree from the program in Spring 2019, is already farming vegetables, fruits and various peppers, as well as growing flowering plants such as lilies, lavenders and roses.

“It’s exciting to be given this type of hands-on, real-world training. I know for a fact I could not get this anywhere else,” said Loya. “Everything I’m doing I can relate to what I am doing and want to do in the future.”

Loya said opportunities like this one give her a chance to build relationships and network with people who she might work with someday. She added that she hopes to grow her farming business once she completes her degree.

“At the end of the day, we’re all here to learn from each other and help in any way we can,” she said. “It just opens doors to many more opportunities that will be beneficial to all of us in the long run.”

Mendoza and Creps agree that this partnership is helping them create well-rounded students who will appreciate the processes that make the food business successful.

“I want my students to know where the food they cook comes from and appreciate the process that happens before they get it in the kitchen,” said Creps.

She added that many of her students go on to work at or open restaurants or build catering businesses, and having an understanding of farm-to-table and its processes makes a huge difference in their success.

Culinary Arts second-semester student Griselda Medina said she is already preparing a space in her backyard for a small vegetable and fruit garden and that this opportunity has opened her eyes to a whole new world.

“I already love nature and what it provides for us,” she said. “I’m not afraid of a little dirt. I’d rather know where my food is coming from and what I’m putting into my body and that of my family and, someday, customers.”

She said being able to plant the potato and seeing it grow over time is something beautiful because it is food that is straight from the earth and natural.

“This is so exciting for me, and I’m glad our instructors have given us this type of opportunity,” said Medina. “This project lets me know that I am definitely on the right path in my life.”

In late May the students will have another opportunity to come together over potatoes when harvesting begins. In the meantime, Culinary Arts will keep cooking and serving the vegetables and fruits that Agricultural Technology provides.

For more information about TSTC Agricultural Technology and Culinary Arts, visit

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Gabby PerrettGabby Perrett is a student at Texas State Technical College pursuing an associate degrees in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics, and in Mathematics.

The 20-year-old Edinburg native expects to graduate Spring 2019 and is a member of the Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Club.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I want to continue my education at Texas A&M University in College Station to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Geographic Information Systems.

What’s your dream job?

My dream jobs are to work for a city in the geographic information systems department and manage the land surveying and I would also like to work for a non-profit designing and building houses for those less fortunate so they have a place to call home.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment while at TSTC has been being able to show my parents, who do not have a college background, that I’m working hard to achieve my goal of a college degree and showing my younger brother that an education is possible.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is that although my family and I stress economically, I have the strength and knowledge I need to go to college. TSTC has shown me this.

Who at TSTC has had the greatest influence on your success?

My Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics instructors Samuel Pizano, David Campos, Miguel Loya and Marc Rosas are my greatest influences. They are always willing to share their experiences and give their students advice. Hearing about their journeys helps me feel that if they can do it, so can I.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is be determined and don’t let anything stop you from pushing forward and getting your college degree.


Huachinango a la Veracruzana (Veracruz Red Snapper)

(HARLINGEN) – It has been a cold January so far, and cabin fever may be kicking in. So to keep Veracruz Red Snapperadventure in these cold days, the Culinary Arts students at Texas State Technical College want to share a recipe they recently created and cooked for their International Cuisine course.


Yield: 6 to 8 servings


  • 1 3.3-pound whole red snapper, cleaned and scaled

For the marinade

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Pinch clove
  • Pinch pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for sauteing
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pinches dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup freshly made tomato puree (water, tomatoes and a dash of olive oil)
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 6 pickled chilies
  • 8 green olives, pitted and crushed, plus 12 green olives, whole
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley


  1.  Clean the fish without cutting off the head or the tail. With a sharp knife, score the fleshy       part of the snapper.
  2.  In a bowl, combine the garlic, lime juice, water, clove and pepper to make the marinade.     Pour the marinade over the fish and allow the marinade to penetrate the snapper for 30        minutes.
  3.   Pour a tablespoon of oil into a hot pan and sear the fish for a few minutes on each side.   Add the chicken broth and begin to add the remaining ingredients.
  4.  First, add the sliced onion, bay leaves and oregano. Next, pour in the fresh tomato puree,   followed by the whole plum tomatoes. Add the pickled chilies, crushed olives and capers.
  5. Season with salt and continue simmering for 15 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle the whole olives and chopped parsley over the snapper and serve on a large dish.

TSTC Alum Receives Technician of the Year Award

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College alumnus Sam Garcia was recently named the first Technician of the Year for 2017 at Mercedes-Benz of San Juan.

The Los Fresnos native, who now calls Harlingen home, has worked with Mercedes-Benz for 34 years. It was his first job after graduating from Texas State Technical Institute, now TSTC, in 1984 with a certificate in Automotive Technology, and he is still going strong as a team leader and master technician.

“I am so grateful to TSTC. It is because of it that I have had a long and successful career,” said Garcia. “I pride myself in my work, and it’s great being recognized.”

The 54-year-old comes from a family of six. The fact that his father was the only working parent gave Garcia pressure to find a job and make money quickly.

“I had to grow up fast,” he said. “I had to work to help my parents and help support my younger brothers.”TSTC Alum Sam Garcia

Garcia started his college career at Texas Southmost College, but it was not a good fit for him.

That’s when Garcia found TSTI.

“It was exactly what I needed,” he said. “I was in and out in about a year, and with the support and training I received I was ready to start working and earning an income.”

Garcia added that he will never forget the support he received from his instructors. To Garcia, the help he got in the classroom for finding a job was invaluable.

Immediately after graduating, Garcia received a job offer from a Mercedes-Benz dealer in San Benito, where he started as a technician’s helper. He later continued his career with Cardenas Metroplex in Harlingen.

TSTC changed his life in more ways than one. It was at the college that Garcia also met his wife. They have been married for 31 years.

“TSTC gave me a career, a wife, three kids and a grandchild,” Garcia said with a laugh.

Garcia hopes to return to TSTC, not as a student, but as a mentor for others. He said he is interested in giving other students the same kind of help his TSTC instructors gave him.

“I’ve returned to judge a couple of automotive competitions,” he said. “But I hope I can get the opportunity to become a mentor, take students under my wing and guide them in the right direction.”

Garcia added that he is impressed with all of the success stories TSTC creates and hopes his mentoring can help create more.

In the meantime, Garcia waits for warmer weather so he can enjoy the outdoors in his Technician of the Year prize: an all-terrain vehicle.

For more information on TSTC, visit

Student Success Profile – Jackeline Perez

(HARLINGEN) – Jackeline PerezJackeline Perez is an Education and Training student at Texas State Technical College. The 18-year-old holds a 3.7 grade-point average and expects to earn her associate degree in Spring 2020.

When the San Benito native is not busy studying she can be found volunteering around campus and the community with TSTC’s Service Squad.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan on continuing my education at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Bilingual Education. I will also look for employment at a local school district so I can work and gain experience while still in school.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become an elementary bilingual teacher. Although, a girl can dream, and it would be nice to someday pursue a music career as a singer.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment so far is my high GPA. I know that maintaining my good grades will help me cross the finish line and receive my degree.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned was taught to me by my mother and aunt. They have always told me to never give up. If I fail I know to get back up, keep going and strive for my goals. This advice keeps me going when I’m struggling.

Who at TSTC has had the most influence on your success?

The person who has had the most influence on my success is Amanda Tamez, my Developmental Math instructor. Math is not my strong subject and she helped me get through the semester and understand the material. She did such a good job at teaching me that I ended up with an ‘A’ at the end of the course. Thank you Ms. Tamez.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice is the same advice shared with me: Don’t give up, dust yourself off when you fall and keep going. At the end everything you work hard for is worth it.

TSTC Hosts Fourth Annual Empowerment Conference

(HARLINGEN) – Texas is known as one of the states with the highest number of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients, which is why Texas State Technical College, which serves more than 200 undocumented students, will focus its Fourth Annual Empowerment Conference on the issue.

This year’s conference, hosted by TSTC’s Student Support Services department, will be held on January 25 at the TSTC Cultural Arts Center from noon to 5 p.m. and is titled: DACA: The Dreamer’s Challenge.TSTC Fourth Annual Empowerment Conference

“This issue is one that has had a huge impact in our area and our state,” said Student Support Services Coordinator Patty Flores. “There are so many students who are uncertain about their future in the United States and are lost and confused with how to handle the situation.”

Flores said the goal of the event is to provide the resources DACA recipients, their families, friends and advocates need to make informed and educated decisions about their next steps.

The half-day event will include three speakers: Abraham Diaz, La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) education specialist, Gabriel Sanchez, Texas Rural Aid and Ana Villegas, Villegas Law Office immigration attorney.

Presentations on “DACA and Know Your Rights,” Texas Rural Legal Aid Services and “Be Prepared,” will be presented by the speakers, respectively.

“Our goal is to educate and empower with information,” said Flores. “This isn’t an issue that only affects those who are undocumented. It’s affecting their children and families as well.”

To close this year’s event, the Harlingen High School Drama Department will perform their play, “Tracks: Inspired by Real Events.”

The play is dedicated to those who have suffered on the journey and lost their lives while immigrating to the United States seeking a better life and the American Dream.

The conference, which has touched on other issues such as human trafficking, drugs and cultural awareness, is open and free to the public.

“We encourage everyone from TSTC students, staff and faculty to the community to attend,” said Flores. “This is an issue that hits close to home for many.”

To register and reserve your seat visit Eventbrite at The last day to register is January 24.

For more information, call TSTC Student Support Services at 956-364-4525.

Brownsville Native Appointed to TSTC Board of Regents

(HARLINGEN) – Alex Meade joins the Texas State Technical College family as a newly appointed Board of Regent with nearly two decades of experience in the economic studies and economic development arena.

The Brownsville native and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mission Economic Development Corporation was recently appointed to serve a six-year term as a TSTC Board of Regent by Texas Governor Greg Abbot.

“I’m really honored to serve as a regent for TSTC,” said Meade. “I look forward toenhancing Texas’ highly skilled workforce and continue to support the Governor in keepingTexas competitive.”

Meade took the lead role of CEO at Mission EDC in 2011 and since then has attracted businesses such as Black and Decker, Rexnord, Southwest Steel and Royal Technologies that have created hundreds of jobs.

He has also implemented programs such as Ruby Red Ventures, a small business fund for the citizens of Mission; Code the Town, which promotes computer science education; and Mission EDC’s Center for Education and Economic Development, a 55,000 square-foot center which aims to create an entrepreneurial, science, technology, engineering, art and math (E-STEAM) ecosystem.

Alex Meade

“Our job at the EDC is to not only recruit companies and support small business, but to develop the talent that will create a ready workforce,” said Meade. “It’s the same task TSTC focuses on daily, which is why I’ve always been a huge fan of the college.”

The newly appointed regent said his goal is to support the chancellor with his initiatives and continue to ensure that TSTC stays on the forefront of today’s global economy.

“What the chancellor is doing is remarkable and unique,” said Meade. “TSTC is unlike any other state institution and can pivot to changing technology trends and growing industry demands.”

TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser said it is an honor to have Meade and his talents on board.

“Mr. Meade’s extensive professional experience in business and economic development will be a great resource for the TSTC Board of Regents,” said Reeser. “We’re especially honored to have representation from the South Texas region, which is home to one of our flagship campuses.”

Meade received his bachelor’s degree in Economics in 1999 from St. Edward’s University, a Master of Business Administration in 2006 from the University of Texas in Brownsville and a Master of Public Administration in 2015 from the University of Texas-Pan American.

Meade’s experience dates back to his very first job after college with Southern Union Gas Corporation as a cost analyst. He has also worked at Grant Thornton, LLP as a management consultant in the Global Public Sector in Washington D.C.; Burton McCumber and Cortez, LLP as the manager of litigation support; Long Chilton, LLP as a senior accountant; and the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce as the interim director and manager of economic development.

“I worked closely with TSTC when I was with the Harlingen Chamber and I saw the impact they had in our area and across the state,” said Meade. “TSTC is the only institution in Texas ready and capable of keeping the state competitive.”

Also leading the way in the community, Meade has served on local boards such as RGV LEAD, Teach for America-Rio Grande Valley, Border Trade Alliance and RGV Partnership.

Serving his state, Meade has also been appointed by Abbott to the Texas Economic Development Corporation and by Governor Rick Perry to the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners and the Governor’s Advisory Board of Economic Development Stakeholders.

“Texas’ workforce and the skills required are constantly changing,” he said. “I’m excited to have the opportunity of working with this great institution in training for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Pharr Native Appointed TSTC Board of Regent

(HALRINGEN) – In 1989, Tony Abad graduated from Texas State Technical College with an associate degree in Drafting and Design, little did he know then that he would be back nearly 30 years later to serve as a TSTC Board of Regent.

The Pharr native was recently appointed by Governor Greg Abbot to a six-year term as a member of the TSTC Board of Regents and said he is honored for the appointment and the opportunity of working with a great team.

“I am so honored that the governor appointed me as a regent for a college that taught me everything I know,” said Abad. “TSTC opened a huge door for me and I want to help do the same thing for others.”

Abad is a Mechanical Design Engineer with Syber Jet Aircraft in San Antonio with three decades of experience in aircraft modification. He’s also a respected community leader, activist and volunteer.

Abad said his goal as a regent is to continue the tradition of a technical education and to help fill the skills gap in the Texas workforce.Tony Abad

“I want to make sure that our instructors always have the resources they need to train our students and stay up to date on the technology and procedures industry uses,” said Abad. “I also want to educate our communities on the importance of a technical education and the type of career opportunities it can provide.”

TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser said he is honored to have Abad serving on TSTC’s Board of Regents.

“Mr. Abad is a graduate of TSTC in Harlingen and has achieved an outstanding level of professional success,” said Reeser. “Having an alumnus as a member of the Board is a testament to the possibilities provided to our graduates, so we’re excited to have his unique perspective as part of our governing body.”

Abad, a husband and father of three has climbed the ladder and he said it is all thanks to his two-year degree.

“When I went back to school I was a shoe salesman and it wasn’t cutting it,” he remembers. “I had a family to support like many of our students do. And TSTC helped me do that.”

Immediately after graduating, he went to work with Chrysler Technologies in Waco as a drafter and through some changes and 25 years in the industry he finally became a Senior Mechanical Designer and Chief Engineer Liaison.

“TSTC helped start my life and take care of my family,” he said. “From a couple making $12,000 a year combined to earning $35,000 a year, our income nearly tripled. We were in our early twenties, so it was a ‘wow’ moment for us.”

As a leader in his community, Abad has also served as a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McLennan County, Prosper Waco Financial Branch Committee and Waco school board committees. He was also past president of the Hispanic Republican Club of McLennan County, Waco Sunrise Rotary and Sanger Heights Neighborhood Association.

In his free time, Abad helps friends who are running for local, state and nationwide positions campaign, encourages people to register to vote and engage with their elected officials, spends time with his family and reads books such as “The Complacent Class” by Tyler Cowen.

“I love being busy and getting involved,” said Abad. “I’m excited for everything that’s to come and ready for my responsibilities as a TSTC Board of Regent.”

Student Success Profile – Jesus Hernandez

(HARLINGEN) – Jesus HernandezHarlingen native Jesus Hernandez is a Computer Systems Management Technology student at Texas State Technical College and expects to earn his associate degree this semester.

On top of maintaining a 3.4 grade-point average, the 21-year-old is also a student worker for the Office of Student Success as a Peer Mentor and volunteers around campus during registration rallies and new student orientations.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I hope to enter the workforce as an information technology (IT) technician and return to TSTC for an associate degree in Computer Networking and Security Technology or pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Computer Science.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to work my way up the ladder and become a supervisor at a hospital and manage its IT department.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment at TSTC has been completing my Academic Core and becoming a peer mentor motivating other students and helping them through challenges they face.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is from my mother and that is that patience and kindness take you a long way.

Who at TSTC has influenced your success the most?

The person who has influenced my success the most is my supervisor Norma Salazar, TSTC director for Instructional Tutoring. She has guided me and supported me in my job and my studies. She’s always willing to help and give advice. She is a great leader.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future and current TSTC students is to always keep an open mind, stick with your goals and work hard. It’s rewarding to have the opportunity to learn something and later be able to practice it and teach it to someone else.