(SWEETWATER, Texas) – It only took one stop during a tour of Texas State Technical College’s Sweetwater campus for Noemy Diaz to realize that she had found her career.
After seeing the Welding Technology lab and hearing what she could learn from instructor Taylor Elston, Diaz was captivated. She is now studying for a certificate of completion in structural welding, with plans to study even more.
“I decided that a four-year college was not for me,” she said. “My mom and I toured TSTC, and when we came into the lab, I immediately fell in love with welding.”
The Sweetwater High School graduate was involved in agricultural science events, including showing and judging animals. However, Diaz admitted that the welding aspect of the program was something she did not look into at first.
“I decided after looking at the welding program I might as well shoot for it,” she said. “I am glad I did because this has been a great way to learn how to do something.”
Diaz said she is a visual and hands-on learner and likes to see how her classmates are working on a project.
“I like to keep my hood on, sneak in to see what some of the guys are doing so I can learn from them,” she said. “It is easier for me to learn by seeing what other people are doing.”
The male students do not mind if she watches, Elston said.
“She is doing a great job and has improved so much since she started,” he said. “I have seen some of the guys watching how she works with her projects. The more people help each other, the better the chances are that everyone will succeed.”
When Diaz started the class, she did not know the basics.
“I had never picked up a welding torch before I started the program,” she said. “I was scared and nervous. It was about a month into class before I used a grinder for the first time. Now using all of the equipment is second nature to me.”
One aspect of the program that Diaz became intrigued with was the art of tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding.
“I fell in love with TIG welding immediately,” she said. “It is my favorite thing to do. That is where the visual aspect of learning really helped me.”
Diaz likes to show her work to anyone who is willing to view it, including an uncle who is a welder.
“He told me to send him pictures of all of the things I have worked on so he can see the improvements I have made,” she said. “He even started recommending companies I should look into after I complete my certification.”
Diaz is also becoming a role model for her younger sister.
“My little sister is taking welding classes right now in high school,” she said. “She always sends me texts and pictures so she can improve. I am always happy to help her.”
Another hobby that Diaz enjoys is collecting stickers for her welding hood. She hopes to have her hood covered by the time she completes the program.
“I ask people to get me stickers for my hood,” she said. “It is fun to be able to see a sticker someone gave me.”
After completing her certification, Diaz said she may continue with the program to obtain a certificate in pipe welding.
“I want to be able to travel, and that could mean working on the pipelines,” she said. “I am considering going back to school in Abilene to get my certification.”
According to onetonline.org, welders can earn a yearly median salary of more than $45,000 in Texas. These jobs are expected to increase 13% by 2028 in the state, according to the website.
TSTC offers Welding Technology at each of its 10 campuses located throughout Texas.
Welding Technology is one of nine programs at TSTC that have money-back guarantees. The college’s commitment to welding students is simple: If they do not have a job in their field within six months of graduation, they will receive a full refund of their tuition. For more information on the Money-Back Guarantee program, visit https://www.tstc.edu/admissions/tuition/.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.