BY AMANDA SOTELO
From La Sara, Texas, a small town outside of Raymondville, Reynaldo Garza, 26, finds himself studying at Texas State Technical College after earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Psychology from the University of Texas-Pan American and being unable to find employment.
Garza is now a student in Mechatronics Technology and working toward an associate’s degree. He expects to graduate summer 2016.
“The degree I received is worthwhile, but I wasn’t finding the results I needed in terms of employment,” said Garza. “I came to TSTC to have a better shot of having a good job and a good life as a result.”
Garza said while he maintains his interest in his first field of study, he has also discovered the joy of working with machinery and circuitry. Following in his father’s and uncle’s footsteps he made the decision to enroll at TSTC.
“TSTC was a good choice for my dad and uncle,” said Garza. “They did nothing but talk about the benefits of studying and graduating from TSTC. They built great lives and were given great opportunities because of what they learned here.”
Garza’s dad, Cecilio “Bud” Garza, is currently employed with Hilcorp, the nation’s largest privately- held oil and natural gas exploration and production company, as a measurement specialist. Upon graduating from TSTC 25 years ago from the instrumentation program, he was able to find employment immediately after college at Chevron. Garza’s uncle is currently employed with Exxon.
TSTS turned my life around,” said Cecilio. “My two-year degree has given me a 25-year career in the oil business. So, when my son said he was going to attend TSTC, it was a no brainer for me. I just wish he had done straight out of high school.”
Just like his father before him, Garza credits TSTC’s hands-on learning as the key to student success.
“I have to say that 60-70 percent of my class time is hands-on learning,” said Garza. “It’s beneficial taking the information we learn in lecture and applying it to real life. I feel better prepared.”
Garza already has a job offer from Exxon in Baytown, Texas as a Field Operations Specialist. They are just waiting for him to graduate. However, his dream job would be to someday be a brewmaster.
“I have an interest in home brewing and I’m an avid beer enthusiast,” said Garza. “Who better to maintain a brewery than someone who has a passionate interest in the craft and the hands-on experience in electronics and pneumatics? It’s an integration made in heaven.”
A brew master is someone who creates his own beer, integrates it into the brewery system, the pumping system for filling reservoirs, the bottling systems and finally gets it to the conveyer belts that handle the labeling and shipping.
Garza is one of many students who have a difficult time finding a job after receiving a bachelor’s degree.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher is 2.5 percent. However, according to TSTC’s Industry Relations and Talent Management office, 11 programs at TSTC have a 100 percent job placement ratio and the remaining programs have a 95-99 percent placement ratio.
Roland Leija, Mechatronics Technology Instructor, and Diego Villarreal, Mechatronics Department Chair, agree that Reynaldo will not have any issue finding a job once graduating from TSTC.
“He’s a very smart and articulate young man,” said Leija. “He’s overall a great student.”
“I’m sure Reynaldo is going to get good job offers. He’s so driven and proactive,” said Villarreal. “He’s a fast learner, picks up information quick. What’s great, is that he shares his knowledge with other students. He really motivates others to do better.”
Mechatronics Technology is an interdisciplinary program that teaches students skills in electrical and mechanical systems, hydraulics and pneumatics, fluid power, computer controls, instrumentation, robotics and information technology. In this program students can earn an Associates of Applied Science.
“Our students are attractive to companies,” said Villarreal. “They’re ready upon starting their jobs to do all the work necessary in their positions because of the training they’ve received here at TSTC.”
For more information on Mechatronics Technology call 956-364-4549.