Category Archives: Harlingen

TSTC Profile of Excellence – Cristobal Davila

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Cristobal Davila, 41, is a two-time Texas State Technical College graduate. In 2015 he earned an associate degree in Business Management Technology and a certificate in Automotive Technology in 2018.TSTC Profile of Excellence Cristobal Davila

The single dad of two boys worked mostly as a security officer before attending TSTC, and said he finally found his dream job in February when he was hired as an inventory control technician for TSTC’s Central Receiving department.

At an early age, Davila enlisted in the U.S. Army and served eight years, never thinking college was in his future, but he said it was his boys and his desire for a better life that inspired him to enroll.

What was your reaction when you first learned about your job offer?

When I learned about my job offer it was an emotional time for me. Even being at new employee orientation was surreal. Life has been a struggle, but now I have a great paying career, benefits and a work/life balance that allows me to be home with my sons more. I still get emotional thinking about it.

How did TSTC prepare you for your career?

TSTC prepared me for my career in more ways than one. Yes, the training I received was invaluable, I gained and learned skills that set me up for success, but TSTC also taught me soft skills such as how to be a better communicator and leader. I was a work-study student with TSTC Procurement and this allowed me to grow as a person and professional; it provided a number of opportunities for me.

What has had the greatest influence on your success?

First, there’s my sister Rebecca Davila, who also works at TSTC as an executive assistant for Student Development. She encouraged me to enroll at TSTC and motivated me throughout my educational journey. She always has my best interest in mind. Last but not least, are Ruben Ochoa, TSTC Inventory Control supervisor and Linda Rodriguez-Guillen, executive director of Procurement, for giving me the opportunity to begin my career here at TSTC.

What are your future goals?

I hope to someday buy a home for my boys and I, something we can call our own. Also, I’ve never had a new car, so that’s something I would like to accomplish as well. And finally, I hope to just continue working hard and being a good example for my boys so that they too can establish goals and dreams they can work toward.

What would you tell a student thinking of pursuing a two-year degree vs. a four-year degree?

From someone who regrets not attending college earlier in life, I would tell someone to take advantage of any type of education you can get. Four-year degrees are great, but a two-year degree can also get you job-ready, give you skills that will give you an edge against others applying for the same job and that will make you more marketable. A two-year degree is a great starting point.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to always have a goal that you are working toward, stay focused and don’t sell yourself short.

TSTC Veterans Center receives donation from American Legion

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – In a new partnership, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 205 recently presented Texas State Technical College with a check for veteran student scholarships.

The check, in the amount of $1,000, is the first donation in what will become an annual gift for the college and its veteran population.

“We have seen, first-hand, the need our veterans have when they return from the military,” said Linda Correa Garcia, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 205 vice president-elect. “This is our way of giving back to the men and women who have given us so much.”

Every year, the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 205, hosts a large fundraiser to raise funds for scholarships and other causes that benefit veterans and their families.

And after a meeting with The TSTC Foundation and TSTC Veteran Center Director Steve Guevara, and seeing the resources provided to students by the center, Garcia and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 205 President-elect Elizabeth Tamayo, were compelled to use a portion of the funds raised for scholarships.TSTC, American Legion Donation

“Our goal is to give our veterans the chance at a better life,” said Tamayo. “To give them the opportunity of returning to school and obtaining a new career.”

The funds from this donation will be used for two scholarships in the amount of $500, which can be used toward tuition, books, supplies or room and board.

All veterans enrolled at least part-time with a 2.5 grade-point average or higher are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

A committee made up of TSTC employees, who are also veterans, will review the applications and essays to select the recipients of the scholarships.

Guevara said this newly-formed partnership with the American Legion Auxiliary is great and serves as a way to provide veterans with a resource for information on educational benefits.

“Donations like these really make a large impact in the lives of our veterans,” said Guevara. “Unfortunately, many veterans struggle when they return, so this allows them to make a new transition.”

He added that a large portion of the veteran population at TSTC are non-traditional students with families to support, so any assistance makes a difference for their families as well.

This is why Garcia and Tamayo are also using this first donation as a way to challenge other American Legion units and posts to also donate toward TSTC veteran scholarships.

“We are spread out throughout the Valley, from Port Isabel to Mission and we want to challenge other units to contribute to TSTC veteran scholarships and match what we’ve donated,” said Garcia. “If they are unable to match, at least contribute to a veteran’s education.”

Guevara said he sees this partnership growing in the future and with this growth the possibility of helping more veterans.

“With the support of Unit 205 and the challenge they have posed to others, I can see this growing,” said Guevara. “We appreciate all of the help American Legion Auxiliary is giving our students and we look forward to helping more veterans accomplish their dreams.”

TSTC in Harlingen has been recognized as a Military-Friendly School for eight straight years, and the college has been recognized statewide as a Military-Friendly School for four years.

The TSTC Veterans Center serves as a centralized, one-stop shop for prospective and current students who are veterans, as well as their dependents. The center assists with admission, financial aid, GI Bill and Hazlewood applications. There is also a variety of services, such as internal and external referrals, that can benefit veteran students.

In addition to the Veterans Center, TSTC also offers self-paced, competency-based learning for veterans who have gained applicable skills through their service in the military. Veterans can receive credit for these skills to move ahead on their certificate or degree plan quicker.

For more information on the Veterans Center, call 956-364-4387 or visit tstc.edu/veterans.

TSTC makes history with first female lieutenant, swears in new sergeant

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The Texas State Technical College Campus Police in Harlingen recently made history by swearing in the college’s first female lieutenant, Gloria Ruiz.

“She’s a pioneer. A professional in her field and one of the greatest assets to our department,” said TSTC Vice Chancellor and Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel Ray Rushing. “She’s a master at taking a task that is fundamental to our department and turning it into reality.”

Ruiz, who has been with TSTC for 17 years, also made history in 2004 when she was the first female promoted to police sergeant, and although she has found success at TSTC, the journey was not always easy.TSTC Police Lt. Gloria Ruiz

“I can’t help but think how far I’ve come,” said Ruiz. “As a high school dropout all the numbers show that I am here against all odds, but in honor of all the women who are fighting to break glass ceilings and for those who have supported and empowered me I proudly accept my new position.”

She was only 19 when she began working at the Levi’s Manufacturing Co. in Harlingen and said she dreaded going to work.

Then at 23-years-old she lost her first child, Gloria Ann, to a freak accident. By 26, she had her second child, a failing marriage and no high school diploma.

“This was when I realized I needed to get my general education diploma (GED),” said Ruiz. “I was 32-years-old, but I wanted hope of a better future.”

At 35, Ruiz attended night classes at the police academy to fulfill her dream of becoming an officer and worked 40 to 50 hours a week as a security officer for the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District.

“This was a huge sacrifice for me and my kids, but look at me now,” said Ruiz proudly. “I was one of the oldest cadets in the academy and one of only a couple of women, but I never let that stop me. Now I get to serve and protect our campus and community and even give students advice, hope and inspiration.”

Not only is Ruiz celebrating her promotion, but she also recently completed her academic core at TSTC to begin working toward an associate degree in Criminal Justice.

Taking his place as TSTC Campus Police sergeant is Eduardo Becerra. He was also recently sworn into his new position.

Becerra has been with TSTC for six years, this being his first promotion within the department.

“I’m both excited and nervous for this promotion,” he said. “I’ve wanted to be a police officer since I was about seven or eight years old and now I get to protect and serve my community. It’s a great deal of responsibility, but I’m proud that my hard work was recognized and that Chief Eduardo Patino has confidence in my knowledge and experience. This will help me perform to the best of my ability.”TSTC Campus Police

Becerra, who as sergeant now oversees nearly 10 people within the department, served three years in the United States Army and a one-year tour in Iraq before returning to his home in Brownsville.

Once home and taking time for himself and his transition back into civilian life, Becerra enrolled in the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council Police Academy at TSTC.

As a cadet in the academy he worked security for TSTC events, which was when Patino noticed his commitment to the field and hard work.

“By this time I was more than ready for a new career and I’m glad that TSTC gave me a chance,” he said. “My experience at this college has been amazing, we’re like one big family, and I’m proud that I get to protect my “family” every day while doing what I love.”

He added that he looks forward to training and preparing his officers to perform their duties without hesitation while using TSTC’s core values of excellence, accountability, service and integrity as a guide.

Both Ruiz and Becerra said they credit their success to TSTC Police Commissioner Aurelio Torres, Patino and their families.

“My family has been with me every step of the way and them believing in me and being proud of me has made all of the difference,” said Becerra.

Sentiments echoed by Ruiz.

“What I have achieved could not have been done without the support and love of my family. Everything I’ve done has been for my boys and to do my best for them every single day,” said Ruiz. “And also, I owe a lot to my mentor, teacher and friend Commissioner Torres for taking me under his wing.”

Ruiz added that TSTC is promoted as a great place to work, but for someone like her, who actually looks forward to coming to work now, it’s so much more than just a line or hashtag, it’s a promise and a dream come true.

To find job opportunities at TSTC or to apply, visit tstc.jobs.

 

TSTC Profile of Excellence – Hector Rosa

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Hector Rosa graduated last week from Texas State Technical College with an associate degree in Building Construction Technology.

Hector RosaBut that’s not all. Before even putting on his cap and gown, the 40-year-old had a job offer in hand and started this week with Morton Buildings in Houston as a Level 1 carpenter.

When did you first learn about your job offer?

I learned about this job offer the week of commencement. I had other job offers leading up to this, but Morton’s made me an offer I could not refuse. Receiving these job offers, these opportunities, is exciting; it’s a new chapter for me. This just goes to show that you can accomplish anything at any age.

How did TSTC prepare you for your career?

TSTC’s Building Construction Technology is amazing, and not only because I graduated from the program. The majority of the training you receive is hands-on, real-world training and exposes you to nearly everything you will face out in the workforce. And of course, none of it would be possible without experienced and knowledgeable instructors who showed us the right way, gave one-on-one instruction if needed and always pushed us to do our best.

Who has had the greatest influence on your success?

The person with the greatest influence on my success is my wife. She has my back and supports me no matter what. When times get tough and I feel like quitting, she’s right there cheering me on and motivating me to keep going. This is a second career for me after working many years as a supervisor at a local juvenile detention center, and she always told me the sacrifice we made when I came to TSTC would be worth it.

What are your future goals?

My goal is to return to TSTC as a Building Construction Technology instructor. My instructors have made such a great impact in my life that I want to do the same for others.

What would you tell a student thinking of pursuing a two-year degree vs. a four-year degree?

I would tell a student that a two-year degree moves you ahead and gives you benefits that a four-year degree does not. With a technical degree, you have a leg up in industry because you have the skills that are in demand, making you more marketable among companies, which in turn provides a great career with great pay.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

When the road gets tough, don’t give up. Keep your head high and your eye on the prize. I promise, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

 

TSTC dual enrollment students choose TSTC as their college

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – For high school seniors, picking a college can be stressful. But for a handful of Rio Grande Valley high school students, choosing Texas State Technical College was an easy decision.

Recently several technical dual enrollment seniors signed a “Change of Major” form, marking the transition from high school student to college student, during TSTC’s first Senior Spotlight signing event at the Dr. J. Gilbert Leal Learning Resource Center on campus.

“We hosted this event to celebrate these students’ accomplishments and to welcome them to the TSTC family,” said TSTC dual enrollment recruitment representative Sarai Duran. “We’re so proud of them and are excited that they chose TSTC as their college.”

Technical dual enrollment provides high school students the opportunity to take college courses and earn simultaneous college and high school credit in a technical program.

College courses are available at some high school campuses through a credentialed instructor, through distance learning classes taught by a TSTC instructor, and on-site at TSTC.

The students recognized during Senior Spotlight have completed at least one semester in a technical program such as Auto Collision and Management Technology or Wind Energy Technology and will attend TSTC in Fall 2019 to pursue a certificate or associate degree.

There are currently 13 dual enrollment pathways at TSTC that high school juniors and seniors can pursue. At the end of each pathway, the student completes an average of 12 semester credit hours, or one semester of study.

“Completing four courses within a program while still in high school not only gives these students a head start, but it is also a money saver for them and their families,” said Duran.

As a dual enrollment student, each student’s tuition, books and supplies are covered by the school district they attend.

For Lyford High School senior Orlando Gonzalez, dual enrollment was a game changer, and he said he is looking forward to becoming what he calls a “full-fledged” TSTC student in the Auto Collision and Management Technology program.

He was bused in every morning from Lyford to attend classes on campus.

“To have this kind of opportunity is invaluable to me and my future,” said the 19-year-old. “I love working with my hands, and I never thought a university was for me, so I’m lucky to have found a college where I can pursue my interests while still working toward a rewarding career.”

He also said that being a dual enrollment student has made his transition from high school to college less nerve-wracking and has saved him time and money.

In fact, at the Senior Spotlight, Gonzalez’s name was drawn for a $1,000 scholarship that can be used for tuition, books or tools.

“Dual enrollment has allowed college to be less of a financial burden for my family, and this scholarship takes it to the next level,” he said. “I’m very excited to be joining the TSTC family in the fall.”

Gonzalez will be graduating from Lyford High School at the end of the month.

Representatives of several TSTC programs, along with staff from enrollment, student life and housing, were available at the event to answer questions and give parents and students more information about the college and their transition.

“Our goal with dual enrollment is to capture a student’s interest in college while still in high school and give them the opportunity to discover their interests,” said Duran.

“Many middle-skilled jobs in Texas are in demand, and those jobs make up half of the labor market. These students are going to get those jobs because most students who complete dual credit are more likely to complete their degree,” she said.

Duran added that many of TSTC’s graduates have jobs waiting for them when they graduate, and TSTC’s industry partners actively recruit them.

For more information on the programs offered at TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

Popular former TSTC president honored with plaque

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – It has been more than 10 years since J. Gilbert Leal retired as president of Texas State Technical College in Harlingen. But at a recent plaque presentation ceremony hosted in his honor at the TSTC Learning Resource Center that bears his name, it was evident that his educational legacy lives on.

“He is the true legend of TSTC’s Harlingen campus,” said TSTC Vice Chancellor, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel Ray Rushing. “He started many of the strategies, programs and partnerships this college has seen. It takes a true visionary, and Gilbert Leal is the man, the myth and the legend.”Dr. J. Gilbert Leal

Leal served TSTC for 30 years before retiring in 2008 and being named president emeritus by the TSTC Board of Regents. The college’s library was named in his honor as the Dr. J. Gilbert Leal Learning Resource Center.

“Everything Gilbert Leal did during his service to the college had a ripple effect,” said TSTC Provost Cledia Hernandez. “And he continues to invest in the region’s education and continues to serve our campus wholeheartedly.”

When Leal started as an Adult Basic Education instructor in 1969 while TSTC was still Texas State Technical Institute, the campus sat on only 25 acres, had four buildings and enrolled 67 students.

“To this day we see the impact that Gilbert Leal had on our campus,” said Hernandez. “What we are today comes from taking risks and thinking big, and that is how Gilbert helped TSTC in our region grow.”

At the ceremony, Leal was presented with a commemorative plaque that reads, “In recognition of and in appreciation for your commitment and support to Texas State Technical College.”

The Texas-shaped plaque was designed and manufactured by students in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program.

Dr. J. Gilbert Leal“When I’m at TSTC, I am home,” said Leal. “The people here are my family.”

To put into perspective how far TSTC has come, Leal mentioned that the Learning Resource Center is situated on land once occupied by a recreational vehicle park.

“TSTC has become a respected technical college that plays a major role in the development of technical skills needed to meet industry demand,” said Leal. “And it’s important to remember why we’re here: for the students.”

Leal said his favorite thing about TSTC is how it changes lives and inspires students to greatness.

“Learning and teaching are at the forefront of everything TSTC does,” he said. “Not only is it a great place to learn, but it is also a great place to work, which is a benefit to the students who walk through this campus. So keep up the great work, TSTC, and know you have my continued support. You can’t keep me away.”

For more information about the programs offered at TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC grad and son experience new height of success

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – After two decades of working in construction as a surveyor, Ismael Gaitan Sr. is looking forward to a new career as a graduate of Texas State Technical College’s Wind Energy Technology program.

Ismael Gaitan Sr. and Jr. The San Benito native earned his associate degree on Friday during TSTC’s Commencement Ceremonies at the Harlingen Convention Center, joining more than 300 TSTC students in Harlingen and 1,000 statewide who will graduate from the college this semester.

“From the moment I decided to enroll at TSTC, I made the choice to succeed,” said the 45-year-old. “I had a lot riding on this with a family to support and counting on me. I’m excited for this new chapter.”

It was while working as a surveyor for Ambiotech Civil Engineering Group in Brownsville, building substations for electric and wind companies, that Gaitan discovered wind energy and its increasing popularity.

“All of the wind turbines popping up across the Rio Grande Valley really intrigued me,” he said. “So I began doing research and found that there were a number of career opportunities in wind energy and room for growth.”

The realization that his son, Ismael Gaitan Jr., was also interested in wind energy motivated the pair to enroll at TSTC and enter a field that would set up both for successful careers.

Gaitan Sr. said it was all about pursuing a brighter future and finding stability.

“I wanted us both to strive for better,” said Gaitan Sr. “And the rigor of the program and the training we received from our instructors and hands-on experiences really prepared us for the field.”

In fact, both men have been hired by One Wind Inc. in Harlingen as wind energy technicians.

“This is a huge achievement for both of us and our family,” said Gaitan Sr. “This makes all of the hard work and sacrifice worth it.”

Gaitan Sr. said his college experience was made more memorable by going through the program with his son.

Ismael Gaitan Sr. “We had a unique experience,” said Gaitan Sr. “We were fortunate to have each other, even though he’s all grown up and has his own friends. We were still able to learn a lot from each other and be each other’s support.”

Gaitan Jr. is expected to graduate next semester with an associate degree. He will complete his last required class online while working full time with his father at One Wind.

“The number of opportunities that have been presented to my father and me stemming from this program is impressive,” said Gaitan Jr. “It feels great knowing that we came to TSTC to find success and have found it.”

Gaitan Jr. said it was never a plan to be in college with his father, but he is glad it turned out that way.

“We motivate each other, and he has taught me so much about overcoming obstacles, taking risks and starting over,” said Gaitan Jr. “He has shown me that hard work pays off, and I am proud of him and what he has been able to accomplish.”

Both men look forward to working together as they begin their new careers and know that this is not the end, but a beginning to bigger and better things.

Wind electricity generation is expected to grow rapidly over the coming decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For more information on Wind Energy Technology, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Profile of Excellence – Saul Pena

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Saul Pena, 24, is a Texas State Technical College graduate of Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology. He earned his associate degree in 2018.TSTC alum Saul Pena

The Roma native has worked with Hunt Pan Am Aviation in Brownsville as an airframe and powerplant mechanic for one year.

He said mechanics has always been a part of his life. He grew up helping his father with motorcycle mechanics. After meeting a family friend who is a pilot, airplanes intrigued him, and his career choice became clear.

When did you first learn about your job offer?

My aviation maintenance instructor, Leo Guajardo, first told me about the opportunity available at Hunt Pan Am Aviation, so I went for it. I learned I had received the job offer a little after graduating, and it brought me relief knowing that I was beginning my career, no time wasted, and gave me such a huge sense of accomplishment.

How did TSTC prepare you for your career?

TSTC treated me really well. The instructors were experienced in the industry, which gave us an in-depth look into the field and what to expect when we graduated. The hands-on training we received also helped lay the foundation that prepared us to hit the ground running when we entered the workforce.

Who has had the greatest influence on your success?

My parents mostly have influenced my success. They are my biggest supporters through this journey. Then there’s my instructor, Guajardo. He really helped motivate all of his students when times got tough, and he constantly shared job opportunities with us because he genuinely wanted to see us succeed.

What are your future goals?

My goal is to successfully complete an inspection authorization course in the near future that will allow me to become a certified Federal Aviation Administration aircraft inspector.

What would you tell a student thinking of pursuing a two-year degree vs. a four-year degree?

First and foremost, a student needs to determine their strengths, weaknesses and interests to make an informed career choice. And if a two-year degree is the best choice for them, I encourage them to explore the option and discover TSTC. For me, TSTC has been a great place to learn and find a great-paying career.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

Take one day at a time and never give up. Two years seems like a long time, but in reality time moves quick, and by the time you know it, you’ll be working. Enjoy your TSTC experience.

TSTC recognizes Board of Regents honor grads with medallions

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Texas State Technical College Board of Regents honor graduates are recognized every semester for maintaining perfect grade-point averages.

Recently 10 of these students attended a dinner hosted in their honor by the TSTC Board of Regents at the college’s Cultural Arts Center in Harlingen and were awarded medallions to commemorate their outstanding achievement.

They were joined by their families along with TSTC faculty and leadership, including Provost Cledia Hernandez, Vice Chancellors Rick Herrera and Ray Rushing, and Board of Regents member Alejandro “Alex” Meade III, who also serves as Pharr’s city manager.

“You have burned the midnight oil to be where you are,” said Hernandez. “But so have your families, so I congratulation everyone.”TSTC Board of Regent Honor Graduates

Among the students was Building Construction Technology graduate Emmanuel Cantu, 30, who said it took a lot of sacrifice and time management to maintain his high grades.

“I had to choose homework and studying over everything else,” he said. “It was about going to a family barbecue but being the only one with a laptop or book studying. But it was all worth it, and I’m excited for what’s ahead.”

Cantu, also a former Marine, worked in construction while serving, which inspired his career choice.

“Choosing a career was easy; it’s been the transition to civilian life that’s been challenging,” said Cantu. “But with my experience and the training I received at TSTC, I’ll be starting a new chapter in my life really soon.”

The Brownsville native has been hired by a construction firm in his hometown.

Also part of the elite group was Katrina Esquivel. A mother of two, she earned a certificate as a dental assistant.

“As soon as I saw I got all A’s my first semester, I made it my goal to continue getting A’s,” said the 25-year-old. “And this medal is proof of my accomplishment. I really wanted to show my kids that anything is possible.”

Esquivel said her family has been supportive throughout her journey and made her feel like she can accomplish anything. And with their continued support, she hopes to return to TSTC for an associate degree in Dental Hygiene.

In his remarks to the attendees, Meade said he was proud of all the work that had to be done to earn perfect GPAs.

“The success that you have earned has a great impact on you and our region,” said Meade. “It is you, the skilled workforce that companies look for when they consider opening in the Valley. And it’s your technical skill set that you have received here at TSTC that sets you apart.”

The other Board of Regents honor graduates celebrated at the event were Emilio Acosta, Charles Colelli, Dylan Ehrlich, Janelly Garcia, Jeromy Jeffries, Hector Lima, Melchor Rivas and Gabriela Rivera.

The honor graduates received further recognition at Friday’s Commencement Ceremonies at the Harlingen Convention Center.

Registration for Summer and Fall 2019 is currently in progress.

For more information on TSTC and the programs it offers, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC grad fabricates success despite challenges

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – At an early age, Abel Garcia was responsible for supporting his mother and brother. But with his learning disorder, not many people believed he could become a college graduate and earn gainful employment.

But this Friday, the 23-year-old will prove his naysayers wrong and earn a certificate in Machining from Texas State Technical College. Additionally, he already has a job in his chosen field.

Garcia will join more than 300 other students who will earn certificates or associate degrees during TSTC’s Commencement Ceremonies at the Harlingen Convention Center tonight at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“It took me a while, but here I am. I took it one day at a time,” said the San Benito native. “I never thought I would see the day I would graduate from college. I’m ready to finish strong.”

When Garcia first enrolled, he was nervous about how he would succeed with dyslexia, a disorder that makes it difficult to read or interpret words, letters and other symbols.Abel Garcia

“Everything I look at, letters or numbers, gets jumbled. But with determination, studying and the help of my instructors and other TSTC resources, I was able to learn and pass my classes so I could graduate,” he said.

Unfortunately for Garcia, midway through his program he had to make the difficult decision to leave school to become his mother and brother’s caretaker and to work to afford their medication.

His mother suffers from blood clotting and strokes, while his brother has bradycardia, or a slower-than-normal heart rate.

“We’ve moved from house to house. We’ve never had a place to call our own because I couldn’t afford food, medication and a place to live working small jobs,” said Garcia. “It’s been really difficult, but I keep a positive outlook and a smile on my face for my family.”

Fortunately, Atlantic Durant Technology Inc., a metal fabrication company in Harlingen, gave him his big break and hired him as a part-time employee for the experience he had already gained in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program.

He has already celebrated his one-year anniversary at Atlantic Durant and will continue working with the company upon his graduation.

“I went up and down Harlingen’s industrial park applying for jobs, hoping someone would give me a chance,” said Garcia. “Luckily, Atlantic Durant gave me an opportunity to be a part of their team.”

Garcia added that this job allowed him to support his family and keep them comfortable during their difficult time.

“This has been a long time coming. What a process,” he said. “I wanted a change for me and my family, and TSTC has given me the opportunity.”

He said his Precision Machining Technology instructors, Ricardo Limas and Isaac Gonzalez, have always stayed in touch, even while he wasn’t in the program, to check on him.

“Not many instructors or colleges care this much about their students,” said Garcia. “But at TSTC, I never felt alone. There were so many people rooting for my success and who genuinely cared about me.”

Garcia will return to TSTC in the fall to pursue an associate degree in Precision Machining Technology and Mechatronics, joining his brother, who also recently enrolled at TSTC after seeing how the college has changed Garcia’s life.

“My family has been my biggest support system. They never doubted me,” he said. “They have tried working to help me, but I know it’s difficult for them. So I’m glad that TSTC has led me to a successful career so they don’t have to worry. And now, it’s time for me to cheer on my brother also.”

More than 1,000 students will graduate from TSTC this month statewide.

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.