Photo caption: Jean-Ra Caballero (left) receives his Associate of Applied Science degree in Paramedic at TSTC’s Fall 2023 Commencement.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Cheers rang out at the South Padre Island Convention Center for more than 240 graduates as they walked across the stage and received certificates of completion or associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2023 Commencement held Tuesday, Dec. 5.

David Campos, interim provost at TSTC’s Harlingen campus, welcomed the graduates and said their achievements demonstrate what makes TSTC exceptional.

“I encourage each of our graduates to apply the emerging technologies and training that they learned at TSTC so they can be an asset to our community and industry partners,” he said.

Abel Villalpando, a Brownsville native, graduated with a certificate of completion in Cybersecurity.

“I received a valuable education from the Cybersecurity program,” he said. “There are many components to understand in this industry. That has motivated me to further my education in the same program. I’m going to study for an Associate of Applied Science degree.”

Hadassah Avilez, of San Juan, received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Surgical Technology. She said she is grateful that the Surgical Technology program aligned with her career interest.

“I’m looking forward to making an impact in the community as a surgical technologist,” she said.

Laura Castillo, of Brownsville, graduated with a certificate of completion in Vocational Nursing. She said her family’s encouragement to pursue a nursing education made a difference.

“Thanks to them, I graduated from the Vocational Nursing program,” she said. “I’m going to transition from my job as a pharmacy technician at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Brownsville to a vocational nurse at the same hospital.”

Brandon Valadez, of San Benito, graduated with a certificate of completion in Structural Welding. He said his wife and children were his motivation to graduate.

“I did this for them,” he said. “I look forward to starting my career at a great company.”

Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is underway. For more information, visit

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