BY AMANDA SOTELO
HARLINGEN — Friday night, Marcela Mireles and her family celebrated not only a graduation, but also life.
The Brownsville native graduated with honors earning a 3.7 grade-point average and receiving an associate degree in Surgical Technology from Texas State Technical College.
During her time at TSTC, Mireles was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and was president of the Surgical Technology Club.
“Tonight is definitely a blessing,” said Mireles. “This was a tough year for me. I never thought this day would come.”
Within a span of two years, the 34-year-old single mom had lost her job and learned that her mother had cancer.
Prior to attending TSTC, Mireles worked for Convergys as an operations manager, but unfortunately, the company closed, laying off hundreds of people. Because of the shutdown, Mireles received a grant through Texas Workforce Solutions that would pay her program’s tuition, while allowing her to keep her unemployment benefits.
“During this time I learned that God will not hand us anything we cannot handle,” said Mireles. “Did I lose my job? Yes, but I was able to pursue a field I have always been interested in, while still putting food on the table, supporting my family and achieving my goals.”
On top of losing her job, Mireles’ mother was also diagnosed with cancer. This spread Mireles thin. With raising her daughter, staying at the hospital with her mother and the non-stop studying, Mireles could have given up, but she did not want to face defeat.
“At the time I asked myself every day, ‘Why her,’ ‘Why us,’ ‘Why now,’” said Mireles. “But had my mom been diagnosed any earlier or later, the medical care guidance I received from my instructor at TSTC would not have been there. Some things are just meant to be.”
That TSTC instructor was Anna San Pedro. Mireles said San Pedro helped her understand the medical treatments her mother needed, and had it not been for this information her mother may not be here today.
“Mrs. San Pedro was really a lifesaver,” said Mireles. “She told me everything to expect when it came to my mom’s surgeries and treatment. She even encouraged us to always get a second opinion, and that’s why I get to share my success tonight with my mom.”
Today, Mireles’ mother is cancer-free and Mireles has a new career.
Mireles has already been offered a certified surgical technologist position with Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville. The offer is pending based on her national exam scores, which she should receive at the end of the month.
“If I’ve learned anything at all during this experience is that I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was,” said Mireles. “TSTC has made a huge difference in my life and I hope with my career I can make a difference in someone else’s life also.”
For more information on the Surgical Technology program call 956-364-4805. The last day to register for fall 2016 is August 22. To apply or register anytime visit tstc.edu.