(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Phillip Saldana, 27, graduated with an associate degree in 2018 from the Auto Collision and Management Technology at Texas State Technical College.
The Dallas native, who moved to the Rio Grande Valley to attend TSTC and whose father is also a TSTC alumnus from the engineering program, said the move was worth it because shortly after graduating he received a job offer from Collision Stop in Harlingen, where he is still employed.
He began as a detailer and after only a few months on the job, he was promoted to the company’s estimator.
What was your reaction when you first learned about your job offer?
Every year I would travel to the Valley to visit my grandparents and what I looked forward to the most was helping my grandpa refurbish cars. This was what sparked my interest in auto body work. So when I found out my job, it was the greatest feeling and relief knowing I was beginning my career doing something I love.
How did TSTC prepare you for your career?
TSTC prepared me with an excellent foundation. The program was industry-focused and provided real-world, hands-on assignments and projects that allowed us to practice our skills and be ready to hit the ground running when we entered the workforce. The program exceeded my expectations.
Who has had the greatest influence on your success?
My greatest influences are my family. My mom, dad and my grandma and grandpa who allowed me to live with them when I moved to the Valley. All of them have been supportive about my decision to attend TSTC and throughout my educational journey.
What are your future goals?
My goal is to gain as much experience as I can in the field and become a shop foreman or manager down the line. I want to grow in this field and hopefully someday open a shop of my own.
What would you tell a student thinking of pursuing a two-year degree vs. a four-year degree?
I would tell a student to not think twice about getting a two-year degree or a degree period. My two-year degree has been worth it and allowed me to begin my career. I would not be where I am without it. Education is the key to growth.
What is your advice for future TSTC students?
My advice to future TSTC students is make the most of your time at TSTC. Ask questions, stay focused and learn from your mistakes. TSTC leads to careers and growth. If I can do it, so can someone else.