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TSTC Alum Utilizes University Center to Earn Degree

Saturday, August 17, 2013
By Eladio Jaimez

EnedeliaEnedelia Villegas just wanted to go for it.

The desire to pursue an education was always there. And eventually, Villegas became one of the first students to graduate from Texas A&M-Kingsville, one of seven partner universities at the University Center (UC) at Texas State Technical College.

“With the University Center opening up in (the Fall) 2011, I saw an opportunity there and I had to take it,” Villegas said. “Who would’ve thought that a university like A&M-Kingsville would come down here to offer classes. The opportunity was there so I just had to grab it. There was no stopping me now.”

After graduating from San Benito High School in 1998, Villegas enrolled at Texas State Technical College and got some of her basic courses out of the way.

But in 2000, Villegas left school and started working in retail. She remained in the workforce until 2008 when Villegas decided she needed to return to school

In the Spring of 2009, Villegas returned to TSTC and enrolled in the Education and Training (ET) Program and earned her Associate’s in Applied Science in the Fall of 2010.

“I knew I wanted to keep going and go for my bachelor’s (degree),” Villegas said. “I started taking online classes from Kingsville. But then the University Center opened.”

The UC opened its doors in the Fall of 2011 as a partnership between the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation and TSTC.

As of this summer, 69 students have graduated from three different universities at the University Center, including the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg and Wayland Baptist University in San Antonio along with TAMUK.

Villegas was among the first to graduate from TAMUK with the assistance of the University Center. Villegas graduated from TAMUK in Summer 2012 and immediately started working for the Harlingen Independent School District. Villegas worked as a Special Education Teacher’s Aide at Treasure Hills Elementary.

“That’s all they had open at the time so I took it,” Villegas said. “I just wanted to get into the school district and hope to move into a teaching job from there.”

And that’s exactly what happened to Villegas.

Right before Spring Break of this calendar year, a teaching position came open at Treasure Hills and Villegas applied.

Villegas is now a fourth-grade teacher and loving every minute. Villegas will start her first full school year this next week.

Villegas said her motivation came from her instructors at TSTC and the availability of the University Center.

“A lot of people don’t want to leave home or don’t have the financial means to do it, I know I didn’t,” Villegas said. “Having the University Center here gives us a chance to stay home while we attend a four-year university.”

For more information on the University Center, go to http://www.tstc.edu/harlingenuc.

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