(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Jose “Lupe” Navarrette has had one mission as Texas State Technical College’s housing director at the Sweetwater campus.
“My main goal is for TSTC to be the students’ home while they are away from home,” he said.
On Jan. 31, Navarrette will retire after a 26-year career with TSTC, including 22 years as housing director. Navarrette started working as a TSTC grounds crew member in 1997 and also worked in the maintenance department before he took a chance on another position.
“One day someone asked me to apply for the vacant housing director job. That was in 2000,” he said. “I thought the worst they could say was no, so I said sure. It was the best decision I have made.”
Jeff Howard, TSTC’s former associate vice president of Student Development, was the person who recommended Navarrette for the housing director position. He said he still does not regret that decision because of what he saw in Navarrette.
“Lupe always had the students’ best interest and safety at heart,” Howard said. “I am glad I took the chance in recommending him because TSTC is proud to have him.”
Navarrette said his best memories are of the accomplishments of TSTC students over the years.
“I have enjoyed watching the young men and young women grow up and mature into adults,” he said. “Many of the students who lived on campus have remained in touch with me over the years. I am so happy to be part of their lives.”
Cameron Dirickson, the head residence hall assistant for the current semester, said Navarrette is someone who cares about each student’s success.
“He has done quite a bit for the college over his time here,” Dirickson said. “He is a big reason for what students will become in the future. He has played a major role in everyone’s success at TSTC. It is not going to be the same without Lupe here.”
Many of Navarrette’s co-workers see his dedication to the school.
“Jose ‘Lupe’ Navarrette has been the glue that has held our student housing together in Sweetwater for many years. Without him, we would have failed many students,” said Andy Weaver, provost of TSTC’s West Texas campuses. “His retirement is well earned, but we are going to be lost without him.”
“Lupe is very hardworking and dedicated,” said Joni Coons, TSTC’s leadership coach for Residence Life and Engagement. “His first priority is the safety of the students, and he wants them to succeed. Lupe has worked many countless hours behind the scenes that no one will ever see.”
Those hours include the time he spent helping students following the dormitory fire in 2018. Navarrette called it the one event that he wished never happened, but he saw the positive side of the Sweetwater community.
“Even though it was a tragedy, no one was injured,” he said. “I was able to see the goodness of our community come alive in helping our students in the wake of the tragedy.”
Another part of the job that Navarrette will not miss is receiving the 2 a.m. phone calls from a residence hall assistant.
“Those always worried me,” he said of the calls. “The students always keep you on your toes.”
Navarrette said he did receive an unusual analogy when he accepted the position and would like to pass it on to his successor.
“Someone asked me if I wanted gray hair or a bald head,” he said. “They told me I would either age quickly or pull all of my hair out. I now understand why they asked me. This is a very demanding job because we have to make sure everyone is healthy and secure.”
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.