TSTC in Fort Bend's first female CDL student Yesenia Aguinaga stands in front of her 18-wheeler, smiling and looking to the right off-camera.

First Female CDL Driver Lands Role

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Yesenia Aguinaga once knew nothing about commercial driving except that it might be a way to make good money quickly.

In spite of her lack of experience, the Rosenberg resident was able to earn her commercial driver’s license (CDL) earlier this year at Texas State Technical College — the first woman to do so at the Fort Bend County campus.

Part of that can be attributed to Aguinaga’s tenacity and drive.

The other part? TSTC workforce trainer Paul Hildebrandt’s dedication to his students.

“I would tell her, ‘Trust the process’ and ‘Confidence equals success,’” he said. “And I kept telling her, ‘You’ll get it.’ I know that she put a lot of weight on her shoulders.”

Aguinaga recalled feeling stressed out during CDL training.

“I struggled because I wasn’t getting things down quick enough,” she said.

She also remembered her father being nervous for her, worried that the process of getting a CDL had changed since he obtained his. Aguinaga decided not to tell her mother about the training, certain that she would be talked out of doing it.

But with diligent studying and hard work that included adapting and overcoming obstacles like her height, Aguinaga earned her CDL.

She has recommended TSTC’s CDL training to five to 10 people already.

“If I could pass my exam on the first try, not having known a thing about how to maneuver a semi or inspect it, I feel anyone could because that’s how good the program is,” she said. “You are given everything you need to know very thoroughly. I’ve heard many horror stories from others who have not managed to obtain their CDL because they’re just handed the material and not taught properly.”

To say that Hildebrandt was proud of his student would be an understatement.

“You couldn’t get the smile off my face,” he said.

Now Aguinaga has a job at a local company, driving a truck and hauling dirt, sand, rock, asphalt and other materials.

“What I love most about my job is the fact that I’m on my own, I know what I have to do, and I’m only told once what needs to be done — then I’m left alone to do it,” she said. “I love being out on the road and not crammed inside an office or a building.”

Whenever Hildebrandt happens to cross paths with Aguinaga while on the road, it becomes a moment for him to reflect on her journey.

“Seeing her smile, doing good at what she trained to do, that’s real joy for an instructor,” Hildebrandt said.

A woman succeeding in a male-dominated industry like commercial driving is a challenge, but that does not mean a prospective student should not try.

“Take that leap of faith — that’s really what it boils down to,” Hildebrandt said. “Believe in yourself, and you’ll be successful.”

The first day at work when Aguinaga was entrusted with her truck was an emotional one.

“I cried happy tears because of how far I’d come, and the realization of how much I loved what I was doing just hit me,” she said. “I got mad, frustrated, sad and doubtful along the way. But in the end, I felt so much joy in what I’d accomplished. I was very glad I had pursued it instead of letting fear get in the way.”

Behind the wheel, Aguinaga gets her fair share of honks and thumbs-up from fellow commercial drivers.

But the best moments on the road come from a smaller audience.

“My favorite reactions are (from) little kids who wave and smile or point,” she said.

Enrollment for the spring semester at TSTC is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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