TSTC Automotive Technology student Gissela Hernandez Guzman installs a piston into a motor engine during a recent lab session.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Gissela Hernandez Guzman recalled a time during her youth when her father had a successful automotive shop. His interest in repairing automobiles would be the first spark that would lead his daughter to an education at Texas State Technical College.

“It made me want to learn more about the automotive field,” she said. “I thought it would be great to be the first female and first-generation college student in my family to enter a career that’s known to be male-dominated. I’m determined to show that women are fantastic leaders in any field.”

Now Hernandez Guzman, of San Benito, is studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology.

The second-semester student said her knowledge and skills have evolved.

“The hands-on training I’ve learned up to this point has been in areas such as steering and suspension, electrical, HVAC and brake systems, engine repair, a two-post lift and a wheel alignment,” she said. “The instructors have taught me the importance of completing a daily maintenance checkup. Failure to do so can cause damage to your vehicle.”

Hernandez Guzman said her motivation is to prove that she can be an excellent automotive technician.

“As long as you have the desire to succeed, anything is possible,” she said. “I’m proving my worth.”

She credits her knowledge to the instructors at TSTC.

“The instructors help us every step of the way, including through our struggles,” she said. “For example, I’ve had some problems putting the correct timing chains in time in the Automotive Engine Repair course. The intake and exhaust valves each have a specific time they have to encounter, and the chain has to align with the timing sprocket. They helped me to correct that.”

Hernandez Guzman said she is looking forward to the remainder of her education.

“I’m ready to learn what the program has left to teach me to become a skilled technician,” she said.

Miguel Zoleta, TSTC’s Automotive Technology program director, said Hernandez Guzman’s interest in the automotive industry is admirable.

“Gissela has displayed initiative, purpose, and she is eager to elevate her capabilities as she progresses to become a technician.”

Paul Cavazos, service manager for Boggus Automotive Group, said women have made a profound impact at that company.

“Many women who have been hired by our company are skilled automotive technicians or service writers who have made a lasting impression on our customers,” he said. “TSTC has played a great role in producing skilled automotive technicians. I would like to see more women enter this field because their skill level is remarkable.”

Jacob Boggus, general manager for Boggus Automotive Group, said the company is about driving change.

“The invaluable contributions of our trailblazing women have propelled our dealership to new heights in service, sales and innovation,” he said. “We’re proud to cultivate a diverse and inclusive environment where the future of the automotive industry is shaped by the collective brilliance of all of our team members. As we continue to expand, we remain steadfast in our commitment to nurture the success of women in the field and rewrite the narrative of the automotive world.”

The need for qualified automotive service technicians and mechanics is expected to grow in Texas over the next several years. According to onetonline.org, Texas employs more than 55,000 of these technicians around the state, and that number is forecast to top 61,000 by 2030. The average annual salary for a technician in the state is $46,680.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology and an Automotive Technician certificate of completion at the Harlingen, Sweetwater and Waco campuses. Several other certificates, including Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair, Chrysler Specialization and Tesla START Technician, as well as a Basic Automotive occupational skills achievement award, are also available depending on campus location.

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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