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Nearly 300 Earn Degrees at TSTC Summer Commencement

Friday, August 16, 2013
By Eladio Jaimez

Graduation SU13

Nearly 300 individuals earned their associates degree or certificate of completion from Texas State Technical College on Friday during the 2013 Summer Commencement at the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium.

For the 2012-13 academic school year, TSTC awarded a total of 819 degrees. That number increased from 806 during the 2011-12 school year.

And among those graduating were the inaugural class from the Registered Nursing Program.

For Rocio Perez, it was just another first in a long line of firsts for the 2008 La Feria High School graduate.

“Being part of this first group is special,” Perez said. “But it’s more special for me because I’m also the first person from my family to graduate from college and even high school.”

Perez graduated from the Vocational Nursing Program last year and enrolled in the RN program right away. The fourth oldest of six sisters, Perez said growing up education was never emphasized. But for Perez, the lack of encouragement was her motivation.

“It’s always been important to me,” Perez said of a postsecondary education. “I put the skills my family taught me growing up and used them in the classroom. Now I’ll use what I’ve learned at TSTC and put it to use in the real world.”

For Vanessa Garza, a 1999 graduate from Brownsville Porter, this was her third degree from TSTC.

In 1996, Garza graduated from the Surgical Technology Program. A couple of years ago she decided to go back to school and last year graduated from the Vocational Nursing Program too.

On Friday, Garza was also part of history as she joined Perez and 22 other graduates from the RN program.

“After I got my LVN degree I figured I might as well keep going,” said Garza, who’s eight months pregnant. “We’ve left our marks here as the first RN class and have set the bar for other cohorts to chase.”

The commencement speaker was a familiar face to TSTC.

Alfonso “Al” Guillen Jr. served TSTC as an instructor, Vice President of Student Learning and Provost before his retirement in 2011.

Guillen delivered an insightful and inspirational speech in which he quoted Socrates and made references to everything from aerodynamics to Plato’s Republic.

“I’m going to teach you your last lesson tonight,” Guillen said.

Born in Harlingen and raised in San Benito, Guillen attended Texas A&I University in Kingsville before enlisting in the U.S. Army, where he served in active duty through December 1974. Guillen returned to school to complete his undergraduate and graduate studies at UTPA in Edinburg.

Prior to becoming an educator, Guillen worked as a biologist with an international pesticide manufacturing company. He later worked as a chemist and eventually worked as Analytical Laboratory Director with the Texas Tech University School of Medicine.

Guillen served as an instructor at TSTC from 1985-2008 and was a college faculty advisor to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board from 1989-1994.

“I have stronger feelings toward this institution then my own alma mater,” Guillen said prior to the commencement. “I spent 27 years here as a teacher, administrator and then Provost. This place means a lot to my family and to my livelihood.”

Guillen noted the Nine Noble Virtues in his commencement speech: Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Hospitality, Industry, Self-Reliance and Perseverance.

“Work is an important aspect of life,” Guillen said in his address. “Always do the right thing, make sound decisions and respect yourself and others.”

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