(HARLINGEN) – Rogelio Garcia is a small-town guy from Roma, Texas, but has accomplished big dreams at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County and will graduate with his associate degree in Cyber Security Technology this Thursday.
“TSTC has been a great ride,” said Garcia. “I never thought I could accomplish something like this at my age.”
This is a career change for the 37-year-old who spent nearly 13 years in the retail industry serving as a multi-unit manager for chains such as Kirkland’s, Anna’s Linens and Sears.
“Retail is all I’ve known since high school,” he said. “I hadn’t been in a college classroom since my early 20’s. It was intimidating making a change.”
Garcia had attempted the college and university life before TSTC. He studied Criminal Justice at a Rio Grande Valley community college and a university in San Antonio, but neither was the right fit.
“In the long run I realized criminal justice was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” said Garcia. “I couldn’t find anything I was passionate about, until now.”
With the instability and hectic schedules that come with working retail, Garcia, with the support of his wife of 14 years, quit his job and they moved to Houston in hopes of finding better opportunities.
“We always heard from others that Houston has tons of opportunities and work available, so we decided to make the move,” he said. “And it was perfect timing with the opening of the TSTC campus in our area.”
Garcia said he did not know what he was getting himself into; he had no idea what cyber security was about. The only computer experience he had was with point-of-sale systems and online shopping.
Disregarding his insecurity about the program, Garcia enrolled in January 2017 and since then has found success as a student and student leader on campus.
“Yes, there were moments I felt like giving up,” he said. “Moments I wondered what I was doing. It was a risk, but a risk worth taking.”
Garcia credits his Cyber Security Technology Instructor Ryan Hill for the reason why he did not quit school this time around.
“Mr. Hill was my guidance and saved me when I was ready to quit,” said Garcia. “He was the first person I saw on my first day and the one that mentored me along the way. He’s a great asset to TSTC and overall a great person. He believes in me and believes that I can do great things.”
Hill described Garcia as a great joy to have in class, a pleasure to work with, and one of the most dedicated students he’s seen.
“As a dedicated student and leader, he was always the first to arrive and the last to leave,” said Hill. “It is his dedication and earnest involvement on campus and in the community that will allow him to graduate with distinction. It is this drive, determination and ability that will make him a valued asset at any company he chooses.”
Garcia will graduate with a 3.9 grade-point average, with honors and memories he said he will cherish and miss.
Along with adjusting to student life and studying to maintain his impressive GPA, Garcia also served as TSTC in Fort Bend County’s Student Government Association president, where he recently led a school supply drive and benefit and was one of the first inductees into the campuses newly established honor society, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, where he served as vice president.
Garcia also worked on campus as a Student Ambassador and New Student Orientation volunteer conducting campus tours and welcoming new and prospective students on campus.
“Being active on campus gave me a whole new outlook on college and improved my experience,” said Garcia. “It allowed me to meet new people, make new friends, make a difference in the community, and make college memorable. I’ve enjoyed every moment and I’m going to miss it.”
So what’s next for Garcia?
He already has a few job offers on the table that he is reviewing. He ultimately hopes to work as a network administrator and Garcia is looking forward to celebrating this accomplishment with his wife, parents and in-laws on Thursday and can’t wait to put on his cap and gown and walk across the commencement stage.
TSTC in Fort Bend County’s Commencement Ceremony will be held Thursday, August 16 at the Stafford Centre in Stafford, Texas at 6 p.m.