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Students Represent TSTC at HACU Conference

Friday, November 1, 2013
By Eladio Jaimez

HACUSan Benito’s Cesar Polanco wasn’t sure what to expect when he and five of his fellow Texas State Technical College students made their way to Chicago for the 27th Annual HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities) Conference from Oct. 25-29.

“It was definitely an eye-opening experience,” said Polanco, an Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology major. “Once you get there, you can’t help but learn. You just open your mind and take it all in. There are so many people there to learn from and so many opportunities to network.”

HACU’s Annual Conference provides a unique forum for the sharing of information and ideas for the best and most promising practices in the education of Hispanics.

TSTC paid for four of the five students to attend the conference last month. Polanco, along with Mauro Garcia from Brownsville, Victoria Rivas from Los Fresnos and Sheila Iracheta from La Feria were awarded travel scholarships because of high grade point averages and proven leadership skills.

This year 52 students applied for the scholarship. Last year there were 33 and in 2011, each division nominated a student to go to the conference.

The fifth student, Daniela Sanchez, made her second trip to the HACU Conference on a scholarship from HACU. Sanchez went last year on a TSTC scholarship.

“It’s a privilege to go to these conferences with these students,” Associate Vice President of Student Learning Regina Garza-Mitchel said. “I think now they realize there are a lot more opportunities out there for them. They’ve realized they are among the best and will be among the most qualified in the country.”

For Sanchez, the second trip to the HACU Conference brought about a sense of growth.

“I stepped up and was able to lead some of my groups and as I continue to go to school to become a teacher, that gave me a lot of confidence that I’m on the right path,” Sanchez said.

Brownsville’s Mauro Garcia is majoring in Education in Training and also took advantage of the opportunity to network while in Chicago.

“There are so many opportunities available outside of the Valley,” Garcia said.

Rivas, a student in the Dental Hygiene program, would like to see more TSTC students attend these conferences.

“I want to tell every student about my experience and let them know that this opportunity is there for them and the college is willing to help,” Rivas said.

Iracheta is studying Business Management and said the knowledge she gained at the conference didn’t just come from the workshops she attended.

“I met people from Puerto Rico…where else could I meet people from Puerto Rico?” Iracheta said. “Sometimes we think, ‘how are we going to make it out of here?’ But there are people all over the country thinking the same thing. And at a conference like this, you get to meet them and maybe work with them in the future.”

TSTC President Cesar Maldonado joined the group in Chicago. He spent time with the students at the conference and exploring the city.

“They were able to build an active circle of contacts that can create opportunities for them in the future,” Maldonado said.

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