BY AMANDA SOTELO
Back in the 1990’s, Nat Lopez found himself with a bachelor’s degree in hand, but without a job.
So he went back to school. Texas State Technical College in Harlingen became the solution to his problem.
With an associate’s degree in Electronics Technology from TSTC, now known as Telecommunications Technology, Lopez began his career with AT& T, previously Southwestern Bell, which has spanned 18 years. He is now AT& T’s area manager of Network Services for Texas South recruiting TSTC graduates like himself.
“I hold a psychology degree, but I had trouble finding work,” said Lopez. Through people I knew, I was aware TSTC graduates were immediately getting hired in their industry and making good money. That’s when I decided TSTC was where I needed to be.”
It was in the fall of 1996, when the Harlingen native put his psychology degree to the side and enrolled at TSTC. His father was on the TSTC Board of Regents at the time, so he knew what the college had to offer.
“The classes I took and the training I received helped me understand and grasp the basic foundation of the field. It taught me critical thinking and set me up for what I would do on the job,” said Lopez. “I am where I am today because of this one decision I made. Because of TSTC.”
It is this exact training that Lopez and AT& T Regional Associate Director for Talent Acquisition Melissa Rushefski find attractive about TSTC graduates.
“We (AT& T) have a strong relationship with TSTC,” said Rushefski.
“TSTC students and graduates have the specific skill sets and training we’re looking for. The Telecommunications program really prepares students for not only jobs, but careers with AT& T and we’re excited that this program has expanded to the Houston area. We look forward to recruiting those students as well.”
Lopez said he hopes to continuously grow the relationship AT& T has with TSTC, and as a sitting member on the Telecommunications Technology Training Advisory Board, he wants to continue mentoring students and providing career opportunities.
“I guess you could say I’m biased, but TSTC really does train for what AT& T needs,” said Lopez. “I want to motivate students to push forward. A two-year degree is great to have in your arsenal of tools. For me it opened the doors to my career and put me in a position where I can now support my family.” Lopez thinks highly of TSTC, saying that it changes lives.
According to the U.S.
Labor Department, nearly half of the young adults graduating with a fouryear degree are unable to find work. For Lopez, a two-year degree made him competitive within a Fortune 500 company. He wants to continue climbing the ladder. “Nat is phenomenal,” said Rushefski. “He came to us with impressive skills and he’s evolved with the company through promotions. He’s a great leader and I believe he has a bright future with AT& T.”
TSTC recently added Telecommunications Technology to the list of programs offered at the new Fort Bend County campus. Division Director Dan Bodnar said he is excited for the interest AT& T has shown in recruiting students from both campuses and the doors of opportunities that will open for his students.
For more information on Telecommunications Technology in Harlingen and Fort Bend County, call 956-364-4732, or visit tstc.edu.