First generation college grad finds his calling

BY Amanda Sotelo

Texas State Technical College alumnus Jose Rangel did not always know what he wanted to be when he grew up, but thanks to TSTC he has found his passion and a new career he loves.

The San Benito native graduated from high school in 2007 and immediately enrolled at what was the University of Texas at Brownsville and at TSTC.

“I tried college right after high school, but I couldn’t find my calling,” said Rangel. “I felt lost. I didn’t know what to do.”

So, the 28-year-old decided to work odd jobs. Every part-time and full-time job was temporary, and Rangel knew the answer to his problems was going back to school.

“There was never a doubt I wanted a college education,” said Rangel. “My parents came from Mexico and wanted me to have a better life and I wanted to do this for them.”

Rangel said he not only wanted a college degree, but he was a first-generation college student and he wanted to be the first in his family to graduate.

“My parents only completed up to the fifth grade and neither of my three older sisters went to college,” he said.

One of Rangel’s motivating factors was being a good example for his nieces and nephews. He said he wanted to show them that anything is possible; even going back to school.

In the fall of 2013 Rangel enrolled again at TSTC to pursue an associate degree in Wind Energy Technology.

Rangel said he made his program choice based on his research. He found Wind Energy to be one of the top 10 jobs to have a high rate of employment. In fact, according to the American Wind Energy Association and the U.S. Department of Labor, Wind Energy technician is the fastest growing profession in the United States.

“I wanted a stable job and I was ready to take the next step,” said Rangel. “It may have taken me awhile to get here, but I made it.”

Rangel took the untraditional route of leaving in the middle of his program to work in his field as a traveling Wind Turbine Technician with Cooke Electric.

“It wasn’t my dream job, but it gave me the experience I needed,” said Rangel. “I learned a lot about myself, what I wanted and how we all start at the bottom, but if I wanted to move up in my field I needed to finish college.”

After one year at Cooke, Rangel returned to TSTC to earn his associate degree in Spring 2016.

“I don’t know who was prouder, my parents or me,” said Rangel.

The alumnus credits a lot of his success to Wind Energy Technology Lead Instructor David Gomez.

“There were many times throughout this journey that I second guessed myself and my path,” said Rangel. “But he kept pushing me and telling me I could do it and that he believed in me.”

Gomez said Rangel was one of his best students.

“Despite his difficult background, he worked hard and it paid off,” he said. “And I have to give him kudos for returning. Most students who leave to work, never come back. He has a bright future.”

Ultimately, Rangel realized his dream of staying in the Valley and working with Duke Energy in Lyford, where he is now a Wind Turbine Technician.

“Coming back to school and earning my degree was definitely a challenge, but it was worth it,” he said. “The hands-on training, the lessons in the classroom and the instructors prepared me and gave me the confidence I needed to pursue a career at Duke Energy.”

Rangel said finding a career and getting hired at Duke Energy is his perfect love story.

Wind Energy Technology is offered at TSTC’s Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses.

For more information on Wind Energy Technology call 956-364-4729.