(WACO) – The first steps on the mountain that Talgat Pate continues to climb started in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Pate, 23, of Brenham and a student at Texas State Technical College in Waco, spent the first 10 years of life at an orphanage in the former Soviet republic.
“My mom had me at maybe 13 or 14,” he said. “I have biological siblings in Kazakhstan I have never met. I was schooled at the orphanage, where they would throw algebra problems at us.”
Pate will finish classes for his Associate of Applied Science in Biomedical Equipment Technology in December and quickly begin work at his family’s company, CardioQuip, in Bryan. His job as a biomedical field services technician will count toward the degree’s required internship, which means he will receive his degree in the spring.
“I’ll be traveling many places across the United States and other countries troubleshooting and calibrating cardiovascular medical equipment,” Pate said.
Michael Overcash, lead instructor in TSTC’s Biomedical Equipment Technology program, said he was impressed with Pate’s positive attitude. Pate took three classes with Overcash.
“He is very teachable,” Overcash said. “To me, it is amazing to see what he has come from and what he has done and how his future is very bright.”
Pate met the couple that would eventually adopt him when he was 8 while on a two-week visit to Texas as part of the Here I Am Orphan Ministries nonprofit Christian ministry. The adoption took two years and included securing a birth certificate, Social Security number, a passport and other legal paperwork.
“I never received love from anyone,” Pate said. “I lived an orphan life by following the rules and working a lot as a kid. When I was adopted, my parents showed me the compassion and love that I never had. That was when I turned my life around.”
He grew up with three siblings that were born to his parents and five adopted sisters from Colombia, along with an adopted brother from Kazakhstan. The family is in the process of adopting an American foster child. Their ages range from 14 to 36.
“Honestly it is a lot of fun seeing the variety of cultures and to understand each other,” Pate said. “We have problems and fight over things, but we care for each other and help each other out.”
Pate grew up speaking Russian and Kazakh. When he came to Brenham to live permanently, he was home-schooled for the first year so he could grasp the basics of English.
“My mother would help me read baby books and help me pronounce words,” Pate said.
Pate was enrolled at Grace Lutheran School in Brenham for third grade and later jumped to fifth grade because of his age. He eventually moved on to Brenham Christian Academy, where he graduated in 2014.
He attended Blinn College for two years to improve his reading skills and take academic courses. Pate researched online and found TSTC after relatives encouraged him to pursue biomedical equipment technology as a career.
“I have enjoyed the hands-on work and not just sitting at my desk,” Pate said. “The technical college has taught me discipline and how to work with people.”
TSTC offers the Biomedical Equipment Technology program at the Harlingen and Waco campuses.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.