(HARLINGEN, Texas) – For one Texas State Technical College alumnus, the need for a career change from automotive technology to cybersecurity happened almost overnight.
Mario Graciani, of Raymondville, earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology from TSTC in 2002. He then was hired as a diesel mechanic for a San Benito construction company, which allowed him to travel much of South Texas.
Then, like a lightning bolt, a motorcycle accident paralyzed his left leg.
“The accident caused me to make a life and career change,” he said. “Jan Nesmith, an instructor in TSTC’s Computer Networking and Security Technology (now Cybersecurity) program, recommended the program. So I enrolled.”
Graciani experienced difficulty at the beginning of the program. After continuously asking classmates for assistance, he decided to visit the campus library.
“I read many books during multiple visits until the library closed,” he said. “It was a great challenge, but I enjoyed it. With this knowledge, I finally understood how computers communicate and how to protect information.”
The knowledge he absorbed was evident in the classroom. He chuckled because the younger students were now requesting his assistance.
“We studied Linux in one of the courses,” he said. “I had no idea it was an operating system. An operating system with modern technology will update to a new version. But we had an older version in the lab. During a lab, the instructor had to adjust the assignment because I found an error. It was a great feeling to know my knowledge was growing.”
Graciani earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Security Technology from TSTC in 2016.
The next chapter of his life would transition him to the F&P Brands fast-food restaurants. He accepted the job of information technology technician to maintain the company’s multiple Dairy Queen restaurant networks throughout South Texas.
“I had to ensure the network was maintained,” he said. “In some situations, I replace and update network cables. If the computers do not communicate effectively, that means people’s orders do not go through. Then the company loses money until the systems return to normal status.”
Two years later, Graciani became an information technology manager after the company acquired Schlotzsky’s in 2018.
“For the IT manager position, I test programs to see which software will work best for multiple store operations,” he said. “I still continue my previous duties as well.”
TSTC offers completely online training for its Cybersecurity program. Students can choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity, an advanced technical certificate in Digital Forensics Specialist, and an occupational skills award in Basic Cybersecurity.
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.