(WACO, Texas) – Alicia Hayes was not going to miss this night.
Hayes, a middle school English teacher in the Wortham Independent School District, once taught students in Teague. One of those students, Gerardo Calixtro, was in her fifth-grade mathematics and sixth-grade science classes in Teague.
Now, Calixtro can call himself a graduate of Texas State Technical College.
Hayes saw Calixtro, and four other students she taught in Teague, walk across the stage at TSTC’s Fall 2019 Commencement earlier this month in Waco. Calixtro received an Electrical Lineworker Technology certificate.
“You can tell it meant something to him,” Hayes said.
Calixtro and Hayes reconnected through social media earlier this year and swapped telephone numbers. Calixtro invited Hayes to the ceremony and found out the day before she was able to attend. He asked one of his brothers to save Hayes and her daughter seating tickets.
“Knowing she pushed me throughout the school years I was with her, it felt good knowing and seeing her there,” Calixtro said. “She played a big role in me and my brothers’ lives, asking us what we were doing after high school.”
The day after the Commencement ceremony, Haynes attended the family’s celebratory barbecue for Calixtro in Teague.
“To see the support he had with his family and how proud they were, it touches your heart because you know that kid is going to succeed,” she said.
Calixtro’s graduation means even more to him because he said at one point while in high school, he wanted to drop out. At that stage in his life, college was not an option he was excited about.
But, Calixtro graduated in 2017 from Teague High School. He told his brothers he was going to college, but they did not believe him.
“I knew I would do it,” he said.
Calixtro had his own challenges while at TSTC.
“There were times I wanted to quit college because of financial stuff and work,” he said. “I didn’t think I would be able to do it.”
Calixtro’s brothers, David and Carmelo, are also students at TSTC. Hayes said she plans to watch them graduate from TSTC.
“I want my students to understand I consider them my children from the moment I start teaching them,” Hayes said. “It doesn’t stop just because they move to the next grade level or graduate.”
For more information about Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.