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Spring Commencement Celebrates Firsts and Lasts

Friday, May 2, 2014
By Eladio Jaimez

Graduates It was a night of firsts and lasts at the 2014 Texas State Technical College Spring Commencement ceremony at the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium as nearly 350 students graduated on May 2.

The firsts were well worth celebrating as the first group of students from the Competency-Based Learning (CBL) Program graduated from the Industrial System's Technology (IST) Program.

The CBL is a skilled workforce initiative launched by Governor Rick Perry in November 2012 that would cut the time necessary for a student to earn a certificate and join the workforce. TSTC is the only college in the state to offer this program.

On Friday, six students graduated from the IST Program with a Certificate I. Program chair Adam Hernandez said the road wasn't easy but definitely well worth the work.

"It was a difficult at times," Hernandez said. "There was a lot of work from the instructional side and the students had to put in a lot of work too. But everyone did their part and it was a success."

TSTC leaders worked closely with state government, education and manufacturing leaders to match up learning activities with industry-validated competencies. As students mastered the individual competencies they moved through the program at their own speed.

"There were some challenges being a first-time program but we managed and the students did a great job of adjusting," Hernandez said. "We helped guide them through and now here we are at graduation...it's very rewarding for all of us."

Another first for TSTC came in the number of Board of Regent Scholars that walked the stage. BOR Scholars are students that graduate with a 4.0 Grade Point Average (GPA), meaning they earned A's in all of their classes.

David Echevarria was one of the record 11 BOR Scholars this semester and he reveled in the celebration of both firsts as he graduated from the IST Program.

"Our advisors and instructors deserve the credit," said Echeverria, who worked as an electrician prior to enrolling at TSTC. "It was a lot of work but we got through it with their help."

The night also marked the last commencement for Dr. Cesar Maldonado as TSTC President. Maldonado was named the sole finalist for the job of Chancellor for the Houston Community College System and is expected to take over later this month.

Outgoing SGA President Tara Mendez thanked Maldonado for his vision and leadership in her speech.

"As you move on, we wish you the best," Mendez said.

Since Maldonado took over in 2008, graduation numbers have increased by 60 percent. During the 2013 calendar year, TSTC awarded 829 associates degrees of certificates. That number went up from 475 in 2009.

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