(HARLINGEN, Texas) – A gallon of gas was $1.10, a movie ticket was $2.50 and Dan Bodnar was beginning his career at Texas State Technical College. The year was 1984.
As a witness to the college’s transition from typewriters to computers, Bodnar was recently recognized for his 35 years of service during TSTC’s Employee Appreciation Day event.
“I never planned on being here for this long,” said the 61-year-old. “And it doesn’t even feel like 35 years has passed. But it’s been great to grow alongside TSTC. This is a proud moment.”
Bodnar, who is the director of decision support for the Electrical and Instrumentation division, started his career at TSTC as a student and when it only had four buildings.
“The growth the college has seen, and is still seeing, is amazing. It means we must be doing something right,” said Bodnar.
Bodnar has come a long way since his days as a lab assistant. He has earned promotions a handful of times during his career at TSTC beginning with instructor and master instructor to program chair and statewide division director.
“This has been a fulfilling career,” he said. “It’s so rewarding seeing our students succeed and go out into the industry as leaders; and I’ve also had the opportunity to work with so many people who have become family.”
As a dedicated employee of TSTC, Bodnar has also received numerous awards for his work.
He is a 2015 Chancellor’s Excellence Award recipient and also a past TSTC Employee of the Year.
And under his leadership, the electronics department was the first in Texas to have a surface mount lab and Bodnar was its first instructor after successfully completing required training in Maryland.
A surface mount lab is used to solder tiny electronic components that can only be seen under a microscope.
“This was a huge achievement for our department. We even had state leaders visiting our lab,” said Bodnar. “And this is what I enjoy most about TSTC, we’re allowed to expand our knowledge and grow so that we can then implement what we’ve learned into the classroom.”
In the classroom is where Bodnar said he feels he did his most rewarding work and although he was known as the “strict” instructor and many feared his classes, alumni such as Roy Longoria, TSTC Biomedical Equipment Technology instructor, said this is where we were shaped into professionals.
“Dan Bodnar’s classes and training really took us students to the next level,” said Longoria. “He was detailed and thorough and always ensured that we were prepared with all of the materials we needed to learn and if we were not, we wouldn’t live it down.”
Longoria, who now works closely with Bodnar, added that Bodnar’s teachings stick with him even today. Before entering any meeting with Bodnar he has to be sure to have pencils, pens and paper to get work done.
“We’re colleagues and I’m still afraid to arrive to a meeting with him unprepared, but that just goes to show that he creates professionals,” he said. “And his teachings even helped me solve problems and troubleshooting issues out in industry. Issues that no one else could solve. He’s been a great motivator and leader here at TSTC for employees and students alike.”
So what’s in store for Bodnar’s future?
He said retirement.
“I’ve had a great career here at TSTC. I’ve never seen the need to go anywhere else,” he said. “Everything I’ve needed I’ve been given here at TSTC. So I’ve got a few more years here and then it’ll be time to relax and enjoy the family. It’s been a wonderful run and I’m thankful to TSTC for it.”
The love for TSTC in the Bodnar family runs deep. Bodnar’s wife, Ester, also recently celebrated 30 years of service at the college, Bodnar’s oldest daughter is a student in TSTC’s Chemical Technology program, and his youngest who is currently a junior in high school is planning to enroll as an Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics student.
To learn more about job opportunities at TSTC, visit tstc.careers.