Sterling Hernandez, a Wind Energy Technology student at TSTC, restocks the food pantry at the Sweetwater campus. Earlier this year, the Winds of Texas, under the leadership of Axel Torres, donated $250 to restock the pantry.

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Axel Torres, a 2023 Texas State Technical College graduate, wanted to leave his mark on the Sweetwater campus.

Torres, who received an Associate of Applied Science degree in May, helped revitalize TSTC’s Winds of Texas student club. Prior to receiving his degree, Torres asked the club to help future students at the Student Center’s food pantry. The club donated $250 to help restock items.

The Arlington native admitted it was not his first idea to help students.

“My purpose in the club was always to show members that volunteering provided more than helping out the local community,” he said. “Most of the time, the most rewarding part of reaching out to a community, whether it be from donating, volunteering or fundraising, was socializing and hanging out with other members during the events. To me, it created lasting memories and connections at TSTC that I cherish.”

Russell Benson, a Wind Energy Technology instructor, said Torres was always willing to help others.

“I was always impressed with Axel’s character and his ongoing commitment to helping the community and TSTC,” he said. “He showed interest in the students who needed help. Axel wanted to be able to pay it forward.”

Gabrielle Mallet, the associate provost at TSTC’s Sweetwater campus, said Torres became a student many looked up to because of his character.

“Axel Torres always had TSTC’s best interest in his heart while he was a student, and now as an alumnus. His dedication to service showed throughout the community and we are proud of what he and the Winds of Texas accomplished while he was a student,” she said. “I hope our students continue the tradition that the Winds of Texas started in 2023 because it shows that we are not only graduating excellent skilled workers for the state of Texas, but quality people who care about their communities.”

Torres said he wanted to leave more than just a monetary mark at TSTC.

“My favorite volunteering opportunity was when I got the club together to help organize clothes, clean up and paint parking lines at the Sweetwater House of Peace. We did a lot of work there and we did that for a few days straight,” he said. “It was tough trying to keep everyone organized and from horsing around too much, but I cut everyone some slack because we were volunteering and some of the greatest moments were when we were horsing around.”

That project instilled a new life lesson for Torres.

“That day was when I realized that everyone can form lasting connections, but develop leadership skills, organizational skills and social skills by being a part of a school club,” he said. “I did not expect to foster this idea when attending TSTC. I learned that attending TSTC because of the environment it harbors.”

Torres credited his instructors and the campus staff for developing the new skills.

“It was great to learn a ton from my instructors and staff at the campus about my program, but I believe I learned a lot about important life skills and workplace skills from them as well,” he said.”

Torres hopes the work he started with the Winds of Texas continues with future students under Benson’s direction.

“He expressed many times the same ideas I had for the Winds of Texas. And I am glad he is pushing that now for the organization after my graduation,” he said. “That is ultimately why we donated a portion of the money the Winds of Texas fund had. One way we can help to develop the idea we had for the club was to start by helping students that are not as fortunate. In return, I hope our donation might be an awakening to a student to eventually give that gratitude somewhere else.”

Kati Bewley, the Advocacy and Resource Center coach at TSTC’s Sweetwater campus, said she was happy to hear the club made the donation.

“I was speechless when Russell told me about the donation,” she said. “For Axel and the club choosing to reach out to help others makes this a great place to be. The students show they care about their classmates.”

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