(HARLINGEN, Texas) -It all started with a Home Improvement 1-2-3 book for Kristen Perales, who was among a group of 40 students who graduated Friday from TSTC’s Workforce Training and Continuing Education National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Construction level 1 course.

“My family was spending a lot of money doing simple repairs on our home,” said Perales. “What these workers were fixing I knew I could do, so I did.”

The 28-year-old isn’t only a graduate from NCCER, but also from the college’s Building Construction Technology program. She earned her associate degree in Spring 2018.

“TSTC has really opened doors of opportunity for me,” said Perales. “I haven’t been without work since graduating. I feel like l’m taking leaps within my career.”

Immediately after earning her degree, Perales accepted a job offer with Davaco Inc. doing retail remodels and installations throughout the United States.

She is now the construction supervisor for Habitat for Humanity in the Rio Grande Valley.

“Davaco was a great place for learning and gaining experience,” she said. “But I’m glad to be home and doing what I love; all thanks to TSTC and its programs.”

NCCER Construction level 1 is a 262-hour course and focuses on the NCCER core and NCCER basic framing. It is an introduction to carpentry, wood frame structures, layout, walls, roofs and floors and also includes a safety and forklift component.

Graduates of the course earn an NCCER certification and become forklift and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certified.

TSTC Continuing Education coordinator Myra Deleon said these certifications are recognized internationally so they can be used to work across the country and abroad.

“These are credentials that most, if not all, large contractors require their employees to have,” said Deleon. “They are precursors to an individual looking for a career in construction. They become more marketable and employable.”

For Robert Young, who also graduated Friday with an NCCER certification, this course has allowed him to begin his career.

With no prior college under his belt, this certification has allowed him to gain employment with Davaco Inc. as a retail installer.

“I enjoy working with my hands, creating and building things,” said the 27-year-old. “But I was undecided on a career path. Thanks to the TSTC NCCER course I now have a job and a direction.”

Young said he will return to TSTC to pursue a degree in Building Construction Technology and hopes to open a business building residential cabinetry and furniture.

“I’m so excited to have graduated, and it’s all thanks to my mom’s encouragement and TSTC,” he said. “I’m looking forward to my future.”

For more information on the upcoming NCCER courses or on the services that TSTC Workforce Training and Continuing Education offers, call 956-364-4567.

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