TSTC graduate Juan Cerda received his Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Machining Technology and the Provost’s Outstanding Achievement Award at the recent Fall 2023 Commencement. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Barton Day, provost at Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus, awarded Precision Machining Technology graduate Juan Cerda with the Provost’s Outstanding Achievement Award at the recent Fall 2023 Commencement. Cerda had also received his Associate of Applied Science degree that evening.

“Winning the provost’s award was a big surprise,” Cerda said. “I didn’t know I was getting it. It was great to be recognized for my time at college.”

It was only the third time that Day had presented the award in his years at the Marshall campus.

“When considering a provost’s award candidate, I’m looking for not just someone who has done well in their studies, but someone who has inspired and assisted those around them to learn as well,” Day said. “Juan was a standout in both areas and a much-deserving recipient.”

Cerda, a native of Longview, Texas, began taking Precision Machining Technology classes via TSTC’s dual enrollment program while in his senior year of high school at Longview ISD after deciding that he wanted to stand apart from his peers. 

“Everyone around me was doing welding or engineering, and I wanted to do something different,” Cerda said.

After completing the program and graduating from high school, Cerda started working on his Associate of Applied Science degree at TSTC. He was already making big plans on his first day of college.

“Juan told me on day one he was going to win gold at the SkillsUSA national competition,” said Precision Machining Technology instructor Daniel Nixon.

Cerda stuck to his plans and entered the 2023 SkillsUSA Texas Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference in Houston, Texas. He placed first in the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Turning competition, then went on to place fourth in the nation at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Nixon taught Cerda from the time he joined TSTC’s dual enrollment program and admires his hard work and willingness to help his fellow classmates.

“(Cerda) is a young man with all the character and work ethic you would love to see in every student,” Nixon said. “During his career at TSTC, he came into class every day at least two hours early to just practice the trade he was preparing himself for, and he really did well. He did things in the machine shop that made you stand back and just smile because of what he was proving he could do.”

Cerda has plans to become a CNC programmer in the near future.

According to onetonline.org, computer numerically controlled tool programmers earn an average of $61,740 per year in Texas, where the number of such jobs was projected to increase 47% from 2020 to 2030.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a certificate of completion in Precision Machining Technology, as well as a certificate of completion in Machining, at its East Williamson County, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses.

Precision Machining Technology is one of nine programs at TSTC that have money-back guarantees. The college’s commitment to participating students is simple: If they do not have a job in their field after six months of graduation, they will receive a full refund of their tuition. For more information, visit tstc.edu/mbg.

Registration for the spring semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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