(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Nacona Tovar did not expect to have a career in welding like his father. But as an adult, something changed, and he picked up his own welding torch.
After receiving his welding certification from Texas State Technical College in December, Tovar was hired by BNSF Railway in Fort Worth. Someday he would like to return to TSTC to work on an Associate of Applied Science degree.
A native of Sebastian, Tovar, 20, and his family moved to Harlingen when he was four. He learned to work at an early age by “picking whatever was grown in the fields behind his house.”
When he was seven, Tovar said he began playing football and after practice would help his father when he was in his shop.
“I would help him with whatever he was welding together,” he said. “I picked up on what he was doing and continued to do that as a kid.”
Tovar originally wanted to follow in his mother’s footsteps by going to medical school.
“I was going to do physical therapy because my mom was in the medical field,” he said. “My dad did not want us (Tovar and his three older brothers) to be welders. I do not know what really happened, but I turned back to welding.”
All four Tovar brothers are now welders.
Tovar said his first college choice did not offer a welding program. He turned to TSTC and with financial aid started taking classes.
He is no stranger to doing things on his own. At the age of 16, Tovar lived by himself, including two months in his truck, before starting college.
“Compared to some of the other kids I know, I had a drive no one else seemed to have,” he said. “I went out on my own and had to pay my way.”
Tovar said “it hurt” to live in his truck, but “I am on my feet now.”
He said the TSTC faculty and staff helped him during his time in school. He said his goal is to fine-tune his craft with more classes.
Tovar can see the difference in his welding since finishing his TSTC coursework. It is all thanks to his instructors at TSTC.
“My dad taught me the simple things. The old-timers thought that if it held together really good, they were done,” he said. “I actually learned in school that there is a lot more to it.”
Tovar said his instructors were more than just educators.
“I have become really good friends with them. I can still call my instructors and ask for help,” he said. “That is what I like about TSTC. People will still help you.”
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.