One of those educators, Erika Williams, noticed that Ruiz had a talent for welding and suggested that she enhance that gift at Texas State Technical College.
“In that agriculture class, I was shown stick welding, how to set up a torch, how to cut using a torch, and other interesting areas,” she said. “My instructors, Mrs. Williams and Richard (Garcia), motivated me to enroll at TSTC because the career pathway has a great salary potential.”
Although Williams died recently, Ruiz never will forget her support and encouragement.
“Before she passed away last year, Mrs. Williams gave me her welding tools because she believed in me,” she said. “That’s exactly what I needed for TSTC’s Welding Technology program. I want to honor her memory and break barriers in this male-dominated field.”
Ruiz is grateful for Williams’ impact because she has heightened her skills.
“One type of weld that I enjoy is tungsten,” she said. “The setup is simple because you use a torch that’s connected to the gas, and then you start to weld.”
The second-semester student said her hands-on training has been engaging.
“During my first semester, I learned how to melt metal by doing a scarf weld,” she said. “It’s used to remove excessive metal. I was amazed by how the torch would melt a metal object in a simplistic manner.”
Ruiz said the instructors at TSTC educate the students about how to approach projects on their own.
“Their purpose is to explain it once, and we learn how to do it on our own,” she said. “That’s what is expected in the industry. I value their opinion. I’m one of five females in this program of study, and they (the instructors) taught me how to be independent. They mentioned there may be individuals who will be jealous because I can possibly do a job better. It’s important not to let their negativity affect my performance.”
She added that TSTC Welding Technology instructor Samuel Williams has been influential in her college journey.
“He has motivated me to work harder because there will be others who often have a better welding technique,” she said. “During a lab lesson, he showcased a product of mine to explain to others how well I did. That definitely shows I’m headed in the right direction.”
Samuel Williams said Ruiz has displayed confidence and consistency in class.
“Crystal takes the time to focus on minor details that make a significant difference in her work,” he said. “Her persistence demonstrates that she is learning the welding techniques for future success.”
Ruiz said she looks forward to joining the Texas workforce.
“I want to find a job so I won’t forget what I’ve learned in the welding program,” she said. “My goal is to become a top-notch welder so I can live the lifestyle that I’ve always wanted.”
According to onetonline.org, welders, cutters, solderers and brazers can earn a yearly median salary of more than $47,820 in Texas. These jobs are expected to increase in the state by 23% between 2020 and 2030, 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.