(HARLINGEN, Texas) – May is Military Appreciation Month, a good time to let military veterans know that Texas State Technical College can offer them an education to gain the skills they need for good-paying jobs.
Dion Sosa, of Harlingen, is furthering his education at TSTC by pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology. He has already earned two certificates of completion in the same program.
But the U.S. Air Force veteran’s return to college was temporarily halted when an accident sidelined him.
“I got hurt last year and was restricted to a wheelchair,” Sosa said. “I did physical therapy and regained my body strength to walk again. I returned to the Welding program and challenged myself to catch up by finishing two semesters in one semester. It was difficult, but I did it.”
Sosa’s fascination with using a torch to fuse metal together started early.
“When I was young, my uncle let me use his welder in my grandfather’s backyard,” he said. “I never forgot that childhood moment.”
Fast forward to the pandemic, which turned out to be the catalyst that made Sosa choose welding as a career path.
“I lost my job because of the pandemic,” he said. “I needed another source of income. One day I heard that TSTC started to reopen in-person programs like Welding Technology. I remembered that the GI Bill can help me pay for college. That was the motivation to enroll.”
He credits his improving welding skills to his TSTC instructors.
“My instructors have put me in simulated situations to prepare me for my future career,” Sosa said. “I learned how to understand the parameters for a particular project. It gives me the understanding of how and why I’m doing it. I didn’t know there are automation tools that are currently being used in the industry. Now that’s a possible career choice.”
The veteran said his military training has motivated him to succeed in life.
“What I learned in the military has inspired me to be proficient in everything that I do,” he said. “My welds have improved, and that defines my finished work. I take great pride in this trade.”
Juan Avila, a TSTC Welding Technology instructor in Harlingen, said Sosa has the determination to overcome any obstacle.
“Dion’s work ethic is excellent,” he said. “His goal has been to look for new approaches to better himself.”
“My children are my motivation,” Sosa said. “I want to prove to them that you can always continue your education.”
Military Appreciation Month honors the sacrifices of the United States Armed Forces and is dedicated to people who are currently in the military or have resigned from duty.
According to onetonline.org, welders, cutters, solderers and brazers can earn a yearly median salary of more than $47,820 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 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 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.