(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Aaron Cantu, of Harlingen, knew he had to choose a career pathway when he was a student at San Benito High School.
His decision to choose health care led him to future success in the health care field. Not only is he a nursing assistant teacher at his former high school, but he was also recently named the school’s teacher of the year.
Now he is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing at TSTC’s Harlingen campus.
The second-semester student said the Nursing program has been an eye-opening experience.
“The interactions we have with our program instructors is great,” he said. “There is an expectation to know the information we have learned online, but in person as well. The explanation of that content elevates our knowledge.”
He added that the labs and clinicals have been his favorite parts of the program.
“The hands-on experience is a detailed description of what we have learned,” he said. “Then we get to understand clinicals in a different facet.”
Adrienne Reyes, a Nursing instructor at TSTC’s Harlingen campus, said Cantu is a natural leader and helpful to his classmates.
“I am impressed that he teaches full time yet has made TSTC’s Nursing program a priority,” she said. “He has maintained excellent grades for being a full-time teacher, husband and father. His peers have an excellent role model.”
Cantu earned both certified nursing assistant and phlebotomist certifications when he graduated from high school in 2005. Then he earned a licensed vocational nursing certification from the University of Texas at Brownsville (now UTRGV) in 2009. He continued his education and earned an Associate of Arts degree in General Studies from Texas Southmost College in 2015.
He has gained experience with area companies such as Valley Baptist Medical Center and the Valley AIDS Council. He accepted a teaching job at San Benito High School in 2015. A year later he became a certified teacher.
Cantu is in his seventh year of teaching at his former high school. He educates upper-level students in nursing assistant courses.
He said the students continuously inquire about his education at TSTC.
“I always explain what I am learning,” he said. “My advice in regards to higher education builds their confidence because some of them will pursue TSTC’s Nursing program.”
Fernando Rosa, career and technology director for San Benito High School, said Cantu has shown dedication to and enthusiasm for the health care and teaching profession.
“Cantu sets very high standards for himself and his students,” he said. “The quality of students that come out of his tutelage are second to none.”
Rodolfo Ramirez, principal of San Benito High School, noted Cantu’s ability to connect with his students and instill in them the confidence to achieve their goals.
“He is recognized by his colleagues for his efforts and in his continuing growth,” Ramirez said. “He is doing incredible things teaching while continuing his own educational journey to become a registered nurse.”
In Texas, registered nurses can earn an average annual salary of $77,320, according to onetonline.org, which predicts that registered nurse positions in the state will increase by 17% through 2028.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing at its Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses. A Vocational Nursing certificate program is offered at the Breckenridge, Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses.
Registration for the summer and fall semesters is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.