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ST Graduating Class Gets Pinned

Friday, August 8, 2014
By Eladio Jaimez

STZulema Saucedo and Brenda Ruiz knew where they were headed a long time ago. It just took them a little longer than normal to get there.

Last week, Saucedo and Ruiz were among the 16 graduates from the Surgical Technology Program at Texas State Technical College that received their pins during a small pinning ceremony.

Saucedo, 46, said completing the long journey wasn't easy but very well worth it now that it's complete.

"It's been a struggle," Saucedo said. "Financially and personally, it's been tough to come here and stay in school. But I have a very strong support system of family and friends that have pushed me to finish."

Saucedo didn't just complete the program but will graduate as the ST program's valedictorian. She said earning that distinction was far from her mind when she started the program a couple of years ago.

Saucedo had reached a crossroads in her life and came to a point when she needed to decide if she was going back to school.

"I had to make a decision," she said. "Did I want to continue working an 8-5 and just earn a paycheck or did I want to come back to school and do something I've always wanted to do?"

Class Salutatorian Brenda Ruiz faced a similar conundrum.

Ruiz, 31, worked in the hotel industry on South Padre Island most of her adult life but following Hurricane Dolly in the summer of 2008, Ruiz lost her job.

And like her friend, Ruiz decided to go back to school and fulfill a dream she'd been putting off for more than 10 years.

"I was laid off and had nothing else to do," Ruiz said. I wanted to go back to school but I was scared. I was older, I had kids and I wasn't sure if I could afford to go back to school. My mother helped me out financially and I decided to go back."

Saucedo, Ruiz and the other 14 graduates took their National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting last week. Students must pass these exams before being employed in any hospital.

Saucedo and Ruiz have jobs waiting for them once they receive notification that they've passed their exams.

Program Chair Robert Sanchez said 100 percent of graduates are placed in jobs and that 95 percent of technicians working in Valley hospitals are graduates of TSTC.

Sanchez said since most of the students complete their clinicals in hospitals from Brownsville to Mission, it's easy to get placed in jobs soon after they graduate and pass their certification exams.

A surgical technicians' role may vary from place to place but it involves working in an operating room and making sure all necessary supplies and equipment are ready for the surgeon during the procedure.

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