Proud achievement: TSTC students celebrate their hard work at graduation

HARLINGEN — It’s been a rough road.

Ricardo Ramos, 22, cradled the certification in building construction science he’d just earned from Texas State Technical College. He and other graduates were receiving their associates degrees and certifications yesterday at the TSTC Commencement Ceremony.

Two ceremonies at Harlingen Municipal Auditorium celebrated the accomplishments of 358 students studying allied health, education, industrial/manufacturing and engineering.

“Love your family, be truthful to yourself,” said guest speaker Julian Alvarez III, the commissioner representing labor on the Texas Workforce Commission.

Alvarez, a graduate of Harlingen High School, instructed the graduates to behave as successful people should behave. They should continue to grow throughout their lives.

Ramos had learned these lessons through difficult times. The last certificate he’d earned was his GED — in prison.

“I used to be addicted to drugs when I was younger,” said Ramos, of San Benito.

To support his habit, he’d broken into houses and stolen property to sell. He was ultimately convicted of burglary and sentenced to two years in prison. After completing his sentence, he’d spent three months at a halfway house where he’d had his first exposure to construction and carpentry.

Now, having been home only one year, he already has his certification and has submitted job applications to several places.

“I feel that it’s the biggest achievement I’ve ever had in my life,” Ramos said.

Josie Gonzalez watched admiringly from the back of the auditorium, waiting for the joyous moment when Desarae M. Wisnoski strolled across the stage.

“I guess you could say she’s my adopted daughter,” she said, the smile revealing a mother’s pride.

“I am so proud of her,” said Gonzalez, cradling Desarae’s son, Silas, age 6 months, in her arms. She listed all the talents Desarae possessed, her duties she had to perform daily: mother, caretaker, student.

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