While working on her associate degree in Engineering Graphics and Design Technology, TSTC student Vanessa Martinez has been promoted from product drafter to junior engineer at her place of employment. She plans to graduate in spring 2024. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Many Texas State Technical College students find jobs before graduation, thanks to the college’s specialized education and the school’s caring staff. However, Vanessa Martinez’s employers at Republic Elite recognized her potential and encouraged her to pursue a degree at TSTC while still working for them. 

Martinez is a Drafting and Design student at TSTC’s Marshall campus and a junior engineer with Republic Elite, a manufacturer of cabinets, countertops, closets and tub surrounds with a facility in Marshall. She recently began her fourth semester at TSTC and is on track to receive her Associate of Applied Science degree in Engineering Graphics and Design Technology in spring 2024. 

Martinez and her family relocated from Mexico to Marshall, Texas, when she was a young child. She proved to be a hard worker from a young age, beginning her journey at TSTC through the college’s dual enrollment program while still in high school. It was through those studies that she gained a passion for the field of drafting and design.

Wanting to go into that field but unsure of how to proceed, Martinez took a gap year after graduating from high school to consider her options. Being hired by Republic Elite revealed a path toward achieving her desired career.

“When I got to my current job, I started noticing that this is a high-demand career,” Martinez said. With the help of her TSTC education, Martinez has excelled during her 3 1/2 years of working for Republic Elite. 

“When I started working in the office, I was the product drafter,” she said. “They moved me up to junior engineer about a month ago. I work with just about all of the departments. Whether it be quality production or costing, I do a little bit of everything. I have programmed all of the CNC machinery that we have there.”

Martinez’s supervisor at Republic Elite, project engineering manager Perry Ryals, was impressed with her education and knowledge in engineering. Her personality gives Ryals high hopes for her future.

“I actually pushed her to continue her education to further her career,” Ryals said. “A lot of that was her drive. I just encouraged her. Once she ends up graduating, I’m sure she can further herself in the company with her education and her drive.”

TSTC Drafting and Design instructor Suzy Kirkpatrick greatly admires Martinez and all that she has accomplished. Kirkpatrick and the rest of the Drafting and Design team are always happy to hear their students’ success stories.

Vanessa Martinez is a phenomenal student,” Kirkpatrick said. “She is professional, self-motivated, dedicated, and a quick learner. When she told us the news of her promotion, I was ecstatic for her. She is most deserving, and I know she will continue to succeed and thrive.”

Inspired by hearing about Kirkpatrick’s career, Martinez hopes to incorporate piping design, such as that used in the oil and gas industry, into her own career after gaining a passion for it in one of her drafting classes.

“I was talking to Miss Suzy, and she was telling me that she was in the oil and gas industry, and that’s something that I would like to do,” Martinez said. “I like what I’m doing now, but I would like to expand my knowledge a little bit more and go toward that route.”

Martinez has enjoyed her time at TSTC and wants to encourage those who also came to the United States as children to pursue an education with the college.

“No matter what your background is, there are opportunities here, and TSTC can provide those,” Martinez said.

In Drafting and Design, TSTC offers Associate of Applied Science degrees in Architectural/Civil Drafting Technology, Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology, and Engineering Graphics and Design Technology, as well as several certificates of completion.

According to onetonline.org, architectural and civil drafters can earn an average annual salary of $57,420 in Texas, while mechanical drafters can earn an average of $62,700 a year in the state.

For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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