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TSTC Students Daring to Be Different

Saturday, July 6, 2013
By Eladio Jaimez

Non-traditionalThere’s a common thread that binds the non-traditional students at Texas State Technical College.

It’s not something learned in a classroom or knowledge gained from a book. It’s an innate passion for their career track.

Because of that passion, many students dare to be different. They then enroll in the more than 30 non-traditional programs at the Harlingen college. A non-traditional field is defined as one in which either gender comprises less than 25 percent of the current enrollment.

For Cristhian Cuevas, the decision to enroll in the Auto Collision Technology program wasn’t difficult. Cuevas has emerged as one of the top students in the program and would like to work as an adjuster after graduation.

“If it’s something that you like, go for it,” Cuevas said about pursuing a dream. “Just try your best and you will be successful.”

Auto Collision Technology Program Chairman Jose Vargas said Cuevas is one of several females in the male-dominated program. He said her work ethic and dedication are among her best features.

“She’s an asset to the program,” Vargas said.

Cuevas was hesitant to enroll at first but she’s now positive she made the right move.

“I was nervous at first,” Cuevas said. “But the guys have all been supportive and they’re like brothers now.”

David Gonzalez has been working alongside females most his life. As a medic in the United States National Guard, Gonzalez spent time working with mostly females. And Gonzalez will continue to do the same when he graduates from the Dental Hygiene program.

“Being one of the only males in the program is interesting but I’ve been in this situation before,” Gonzalez said. “Being one of the only males motivates me.”

Emerald Hernandez is also fueled by her passion.

Hernandez began welding in high school and it became her passion. Today she’s enrolled in the Welding Technology program and is among the best students, according to program chairman Kenny Moore.

“Her confidence is increasing and her skill level is increasing too,” Moore said.

Hernandez said just fitting in with “the guys” was a challenge. But her passion for welding trumped any other notions of doubt when she decided to join the welding program.

“You have to follow your dream and follow your passion,” Hernandez said. “If you love what you do, it’ll be worth it at the end.”

There are several benefits to being a non-traditional students including eligibility for a number of resources including book lending opportunities. Non-traditional students are also in demand in the job market as employers work to diversify their workplace and these students usually earn more money as well.

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