(HUTTO, Texas) – Alejandro Garcia Puente, of Round Rock, is an Industrial Systems – Mechanical Specialization student at Texas State Technical College in East Williamson County. He is scheduled to graduate in December.
Garcia Puente is a graduate of Vista Ridge High School in Cedar Park and is in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
What did you do before you attended TSTC?
When I was in high school, I did not want to go to college yet. I had bills to pay, so I joined the U.S. Navy. I was in the Navy for five active years as an electrician. I was stationed in Virginia, and from there I went to Bahrain, Croatia, Greece, Italy, the Mediterranean Sea, Spain and the United Arab Emirates. After I left the Navy, I just wanted some time to myself, and I took a mini vacation and did not work for four months. I had to wait a little before I could enter the U.S. Navy Reserve, so I got a job as a welder’s helper and later worked in construction. I am a boatswain’s mate in the reserve.
What got you interested in TSTC?
What got me interested in TSTC was how close it was to me. All the other campuses were farther away. I looked through the programs and read about Industrial Systems, and that is what I picked. I also liked the convenience and hands-on learning. It’s been wonderful. The instructors are great. They are here to make sure you take what you learn and use it on the outside wherever you go. They have years and years of experience.
Are you getting professional experience in your degree program?
I began my apprenticeship in late August at ICU Medical in Austin. I go back and forth between two different crews. I have gotten to help replace a chain on a drive gear. I am working 24 hours during the week. It’s great, and I enjoy waking up and going to work. I get to see in class what I am seeing at the company. I am learning a lot.
What motivates you in life?
The thing that comes to mind is not struggling. If I better myself now, and the harder I push, the easier everything should be, hopefully.
How do you and your family honor your Hispanic culture?
My mom’s thing is tamales. She would be there all day in the kitchen, sometimes not going to sleep until 3 a.m. I still help her today. I will grind and mix everything together, and I will get the corn husks and spread it there, but I am still learning. She also makes tortillas, which I am learning how to make on my own. But I have not found my own specialty yet. My aunt makes salsa, another aunt makes Puerto Rican rice, and another aunt makes guacamole.
What do you like to do away from classes and work?
I like to garden. Right now, I have some beets I am trying to grow hydroponically with water and no dirt. I have a grow lamp and the beets in pods, and once they start growing, I will transplant them into water containers and pump water through with a pump and fertilizer. I have grown purple sweet potatoes in an old washing machine tub. It is trial and error.
What advice do you have for prospective college students?
Take it one step at a time. At times, it seems like a lot. Other people have done it before. Planning, scheduling and following through helps. Also, build a routine.
What are your plans after graduation?
I am thinking of being at ICU Medical for several years. Looking around me, we all get older. Not everything is the same as when we were young. Doing this at this age benefits me and my body.
Electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians make a yearly median salary of more than $61,000 in Texas, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website. The labor department predicts that more than 1,500 workers will be needed In Texas in 2030.
TSTC is proud to recognize National Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place from mid-September to mid-October.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.