(HARLINGEN, Texas) – A loving father-son relationship is a lifelong connection that helps a son to develop independence and other traits throughout life.
One memory that Paulo Garza, of Mission, treasures is being introduced to welding. This led him to an education at Texas State Technical College and a career goal of becoming an independent contractor.
“My father used to be a professional welder in the oil rigs,” Garza said. “When I was 10 years old we had a project truck that we worked on. He taught me how to maintain a vehicle, bolt down parts, change tires, and taught me the fundamentals of welding. I learned how to read a weld puddle, how to move that puddle, and basic welding patterns.”
Years later Garza’s interest in welding would spark again at Sharyland Pioneer High School in Mission.
“It was a new high school and the welding program worked together with the Future Farmers of America,” he said. “My welding skills improved all four years. I earned second place in a barbecue pit welding competition at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show. My former welding teacher (Joe) Carter saw the potential in my skills during my senior year. I participated in a SkillsUSA welding competition that TSTC hosted. Their welding facility attracted me. Mr. Carter suggested that I enroll after I graduate to enhance my skills.”
Now Garza is studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology at TSTC.
He said his program experience has been worthwhile.
“I have learned about basic and advanced welding techniques such as how to fabricate, layout welding projects, and how to read and make a blueprint,” he said. “I enjoy the hands-on assignments in my Introduction to Layout and Fabrication course. I am expected to create a project under certain specifications and weld it together. My instructors have improved my technique so it won’t cause imperfections. Now I have a better understanding about what’s involved in this field.”
Manuel Ahumada, TSTC’s Welding Technology program director, said one of the difficult parts about learning how to weld are the specific welding process.
“Paulo has done an excellent job to obtain that knowledge and apply it,” he said. “That trait will be beneficial to the welding industry because that’s how welders’ transition into leadership positions.”
Garza said his parents are his motivation to succeed.
“They want me to have a great education,” he said. “My hope is that this journey will lead to a better life after I graduate from TSTC.”
According to onetonline.org, welders, cutters, solderers and brazers can earn a yearly median salary of more than $48,180 in Texas. These jobs were expected to increase in the state by 23% between 2020 and 2030, according to the website.
TSTC offers Welding Technology at its 10 campuses throughout Texas.
Welding Technology is one of nine programs at TSTC that have money-back guarantees. The college’s commitment to participating 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, visit tstc.edu/mbg.
Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.