(HARLINGEN, Texas) – It was a first-of-its-kind event for Texas State Technical College as the college welcomed two high school seniors with a signing day and scholarship presentation in a ceremony at Harlingen High School (HHS) on Wednesday.
Sadat Gutierrez, 18, and Anyssa Huerta, 17, are both masonry students at HHS and next fall will begin pursuing associate degrees in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program.
“It’s an honor to celebrate these students’ great accomplishments,” said TSTC Provost Cledia Hernandez. “And at TSTC, our students’ success is at the forefront of everything we do. It’s exciting to see these young women lead as an example in a male-dominated field. Seeing these women excel makes me so proud.”
SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help high school and college students pursue successful careers. Members build these skills through student-led team meetings; local, state and national competitions; leadership conferences; and other activities.
Huerta earned a bronze medal and a $1,500 scholarship, while Gutierrez was awarded gold, earning 30 points more than a male peer who has won first place in SkillsUSA every year. Gutierrez also received a $6,000 scholarship.
The scholarships, which were presented to the women by Hernandez and TSTC Building Construction Technology instructors, can be used for tuition, books, supplies, or room and board.
“These are some of my top students; they’re leaders in class,” said HHS masonry instructor Victor Santillan. “Going to TSTC is going to give them so many opportunities, and I’m glad (TSTC has) taken the time to recognize their achievements because this program (Building Construction Technology) is going to allow them to step into great careers and broaden their horizons.”
Gutierrez and Huerta both said they were placed in their masonry class by mistake their sophomore year, but said someone knew what they were doing because it literally paved the way for their future.
“I knew nothing about masonry before coming into this class. I even tried to get out. But I needed an elective, and this was the only one available,” Gutierrez reminisced. “But I ended up loving it; it ended up opening so many doors for me.”
Huerta shared the same sentiment.
“I was supposed to be pursuing a degree in engineering right now,” she said. “But when I was enrolled in this class, everything changed. I’m now looking forward to a successful career in construction, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s become a true passion.”
Both women said they are excited to start at TSTC in August and hope to continue competing in SkillsUSA at the postsecondary level. They agreed that the scholarships have brought a great relief to them and their families.
“I’m set,” said Gutierrez. “This money, along with some other scholarships and financial aid I have received, will get me through my program. I couldn’t be any more grateful to SkillsUSA and TSTC for making this possible.”
As for Huerta, she said her scholarship, along with financial aid, will allow her to earn a college degree without needing to touch student loans.
“Debt-free is how I want to graduate,” she said. “This scholarship is a huge help, and I can’t wait to see what my future holds. TSTC, here I come.”
Hernandez added that she is happy to welcome these two women into the TSTC family to earn their degrees and advance their careers.
“We’re excited to present these scholarships because it will allow them to continue finding their passion,” said Hernandez. “And we are dedicated to working to ensure that they get the skills they need to find high-paying jobs. We thank them for trusting us with their higher education.”
For more information on Building Construction Technology at TSTC, go to www.tstc.edu.