From foster care to college: Mechatronics Technology student gets new perspective at TSTC

By Amanda Sotelo

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Texas State Technical College student Madison Freeman is a long way from her hometown of Sulphur Springs, Texas, and her move to the Rio Grande Valley was inspired by TSTC’s Mechatronics Technology program. 

As a woman who grew up in the foster care system, being a college student is a dream come true.

“I moved from house to house until my grandmother was able to gain custody of me. But no matter what happened, college remained in the forefront,” said the 18-year-old. “And it was all somehow a blessing in disguise.”

At a young age, Freeman took an interest in robotics, engineering and how things work. So throughout junior high and high school, she focused on learning just that.

“This field (mechatronics) is so intriguing to me, and I’m happy to finally be at TSTC pursuing it as a career,” Freeman said. “I love breaking things apart and studying their complexities and mechanics, and my family knows that. So even though they were skeptical about me moving, they knew this was something I had to pursue.”

TSTC Mechatronics Technology student Madison Freeman

Before graduating from high school, Freeman competed in SkillsUSA’s state and national competitions in the Robotics: Urban Search and Rescue Challenge, placing in the top three statewide and earning a $1,500 scholarship from TSTC and the SkillsUSA organization for her achievement.

SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help high school and college students pursue successful careers. 

Freeman said that in addition to the scholarship she received from TSTC and SkillsUSA, she receives assistance through a state foster care higher education program.

“All of the help I’ve received is a big deal for me,” she said. “It’s allowing me to follow my dreams.”

Freeman said that as a woman in a male-dominated field, her goal is to break barriers and help other women find their place in the industry without fear of failure.

“This is a man’s world, but if you take a look, more and more women are joining the industry. And we are just as successful,” she said. “And I want other women to come into this field confident and strong, because there are a number of opportunities for us.”

Freeman is starting out her college career with clear goals of what she wants to achieve, from stellar grades to a first-place spot at SkillsUSA nationals. She also hopes someday to make a difference as an inventor of new technology for the medical and educational fields.

“I’m excited for what’s to come and to see where I go,” said Freeman. “TSTC has given me a new perspective on my future.”

After receiving her associate degree in Mechatronics Technology, Freeman hopes to earn additional degrees at TSTC in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics and Digital Media Design to become a well-rounded inventor.

For more information on Mechatronics Technology at TSTC, visit https://tstc.edu/programs/MechatronicsTechnology.