(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Some 200 students from 14 area high schools will visit Texas State Technical College’s Harlingen campus for a Region One GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) campus tour Thursday, May 26.
The participating high schools include Edcouch-Elsa, Harlingen, Harlingen South, La Feria, Lasara, La Villa, Los Fresnos, Monte Alto, Port Isabel, Progreso, Raymondville, Rio Hondo, Santa Maria and Santa Rosa.
The GEAR UP students will be greeted by volunteers from various TSTC departments for campus tours and to learn more about the curricula.
Amanda Posada, interim provost at TSTC’s Harlingen campus and the college’s statewide dual enrollment executive director, said this is the first time TSTC will host these GEAR UP high school campuses from Cameron and Willacy counties.
“We are excited about our collaboration between TSTC and Region One in welcoming 200 GEAR UP high school students to our campus and showcasing our technical program offerings,” she said. “We strongly believe in providing students pathway options that will result in a valuable credential. Our skilled TSTC program instructors will train them for great-paying jobs in the industry. We hope that TSTC is their choice after they graduate from high school.”
Leo Saenz, career and technical education specialist for the Region One Education Service Center, said GEAR UP works in collaboration with local partners to bring awareness and knowledge to the community about postsecondary options for high school students.
“Part of creating a college and career culture includes exposing our GEAR UP students to in-demand technical careers and certifications that can be obtained through vocational schools such as TSTC,” he said. “Our students will visit the training sites. They will participate in hands-on demonstrations. They will interact with certified TSTC staff through relevant dialogue about their career and educational journey. This will allow our students to reflect on how these career options may present a viable career for their future.”
Janet Alfaro, coordinator of Student Recruitment for TSTC’s Harlingen campus, said TSTC is excited to showcase the technical programs that TSTC has to offer.
“TSTC’s Harlingen campus has many technical programs that high school students do not realize we offer,” she said. “For example, our campus is the only college in South Texas that offers the Dental Hygiene program.”
Yvette Mendoza, GEAR UP facilitator at Raymondville Early College High School, said TSTC instructors have been promoting their programs at her campus.https://www.tstc.edu/apply/
“The next step is for our GEAR UP high school students to participate in the upcoming Region One GEAR UP campus tour,” she said. “Our students would like to visit TSTC’s allied health programs, the Electrical Lineworker Technology program, the Welding Technology program and the Wind Energy Technology program. For them, the thought of earning a certificate of completion or an Associate of Applied Science degree and joining the workforce in two years is appealing.”
Joanna Gomez, GEAR UP facilitator at Lasara High School, said her students are looking forward to visiting all of TSTC’s technical programs.
“The campus tour at TSTC will inform our GEAR UP high school students about the higher education opportunities available,” she said. “If these prospective students commit to TSTC, they can be trained in several areas and begin working in 12-18 months.”
Diana Bustamante, GEAR UP facilitator at Rio Hondo High School Pathways in Technology (P-TECH), said her GEAR UP students are interested in TSTC’s allied health programs, the Automotive Technology program, and other areas.
“The upcoming TSTC campus tour is unique for my GEAR UP students because of the potential for high-paying careers after two years,” she said. “The Harlingen campus’ proximity to our Rio Hondo community is convenient.”