(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Linda Sanchez has always been passionate about taking care of other people — and planet Earth.
In the 1980s, she lived at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where scientific and medical evidence showed an association between exposure to contaminants in the drinking water and the development of certain diseases.
The desire to help influence change in both the world and her own career led Sanchez to pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Texas State Technical College’s Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance program.
What was your professional background before you began training in TSTC’s Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance program?
I’m a physical therapist assistant. I work with people, I take care of them and make sure they can maximize their mobility and independence as much as possible. It was time for a change, to move out of the health care profession, but I still enjoy people. I thought, whether it be the environment or the safety aspect of it, those are things that I’m passionate about
(Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance) is a different way of caring for people — hopefully trying to stop it at the beginning rather than working with the aftereffects of the situation that was not addressed.
How has your experience at TSTC been so far?
It’s been really good. I know that instructor Andrea Skinner-Creeks does a good job. She really does want all of us to succeed. I appreciate that. And she’s got a lot of experience — as does instructor Om Chawla. They’re both really good about helping the students maximize their potential to graduate to get them going to this new world. The more people you can get to make a positive change, that is a good thing.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
Don’t give up. It’s how you can make it work. I feel like I’m on a timeline too. I’ll be 58. I am getting a little older. I’m getting wiser, is what I tell my kids.
What professional goals do you have for yourself after earning your degree?
I have a neighbor who works from home, travels, does sampling for a lot of the U.S. naval facilities, comes back, and writes the report. That’s something I would like, fixing things that need to be fixed — especially working with our service members. I find that to be very important to me. Traveling, interacting with people, but also working to make things better.
Any words of wisdom for individuals looking to change their careers?
I think it’s all how we look at it. They say the more that we challenge our brain and we learn a new task — especially the more mature we are — that really does help us not only with keeping our brain nice and sharp but also with our level of satisfaction with life and enjoyment. There’s a purpose.
It comes down to our own kids and their kids. A legacy — what are we leaving for our children? I want mine to be like, “Mom, you showed us to keep going forward and not give up.” If they choose to change careers, I want them to say, “It doesn’t matter that we’re 60. I’d rather keep on going and learn something more.”
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance at its Breckenridge, Fort Bend County and Waco campuses.
In the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area, occupational health and safety technicians can earn a median annual salary of $58,170, according to onetonline.org, which forecasts the number of positions to grow in the state by 16% through 2028.
Texas employs the highest number of occupational health and safety technicians, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
June marks National Safety Month.
Fall enrollment at TSTC is underway. Learn more at tstc.edu.