(ROSENBERG, Texas) – When Alexandra Santos used to drive a truck for J.B. Hunt back in 2017, a brewing company’s account routed her deliveries to the Silver Eagle Distributors location in Rosenberg.
Now the Texas State Technical College Diesel Equipment Technology student is working as a diesel mechanic apprentice at Silver Eagle — a position she landed in April.
Many of the Silver Eagle employees who she interacted with as a driver still work there today.
“It just screams ‘good company’ if someone’s willing to stay there for so long,” she said.
Santos first reconnected with Silver Eagle representatives in March at the Industry Job Fair held at TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus. The following week, the representatives were back for an employer spotlight organized by TSTC’s Career Services department.
“I talked and talked to them,” Santos said. “I asked a million questions. They told me, ‘Get your foot in the door, no matter what position, and we can move you up from there.’”
As a full-time diesel mechanic apprentice, Santos is gaining on-the-job experience with preventive maintenance, including oil changes, and working with forklifts and semitrailers. She fits in her eight-hour shifts during a midday class break and once training at TSTC is over for the afternoon.
Santos uses skills that she learns in the Diesel Equipment Technology lab at TSTC at Silver Eagle — and vice versa.
“I wanted a job where I can learn what I’m doing at school,” she said. “My second day at work, I replaced one of the hydraulics lines (on a semitrailer tailgate), and I knew where they go and how they function because of class.”
Striking a balance with school, work and raising two children has been challenging, Santos said, but she urged students who may find themselves in similar situations to reach out for help.
“Use the resources here at school,” she said. “When we weren’t working, I told (TSTC Advocacy and Resource Center coach) Larissa (Moreno) that we were taking a couple things from the food pantry. It helped a lot to get us by.”
TSTC’s campus in Fort Bend County offers Diesel Equipment Technology training with heavy truck specializations, as well as an occupational skills award in Basic Diesel. The program is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee. If participating graduates do not get hired in a job in their field within six months of earning their degree, TSTC will refund their tuition.
At 23,950, Texas employs the highest number of diesel engine specialists in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Diesel engine specialists can earn an average annual salary of $47,850 in Texas, according to onetonline.org, which forecasts the number of positions to grow in the state by 14% through 2028.
Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. Learn more at tstc.edu.