BY Amanda Sotelo
Recent Rio Hondo High School graduate and former Texas State Technical College dual enrollment student Griselda Gonzalez Olvera is back, this time pursuing an associate degree in Chemical Technology.
It was during Olvera’s senior year in high school, while taking algebra and precalculus at TSTC, when she learned about the Chemical Technology program.
“Had it not been for my TSTC Success Coach Anna Cortez who took the time to talk to me about my interests I would have never known about this program,” said Olvera.
The 19-year-old said chemistry first peaked her interest her sophomore year in high school. She said that year was the moment she knew it was a career she needed to pursue.
However, for Olvera and her family money was tight and she couldn’t afford a four-year university.
“TSTC was a great option for me,” said Olvera. “It’s affordable, there’s more one-on-one with instructors and because classes are smaller it’s easier to interact with your peers.”
Olvera added that her favorite part of the program is the hands-on experience she is receiving.
“I’m the type of person that learns by doing,” she said. “And in this program you get to practice what you study. I don’t think I would have gotten this kind of training anywhere else.”
After graduating in Spring 2018, Olvera hopes to return, this time to pursue an associate degree in Physics.
Ultimately, Olvera hopes to become a chemical analyst.
“I eventually hope to transfer to pursue a bachelor’s degree, but for now I know that TSTC will give me the skills I need to start a rewarding career and be successful at a university.”
Chemical Technology Lead Instructor Robert Hernandez said this program is a right fit for students like Olvera who have a love and passion for math and science.
“It is Griselda’s love for chemistry that drew her to the program. It’s her constant curiosity that keeps her engaged,” said Hernandez. “She is a hard worker and I know she has a bright future ahead.”
For students such as Olvera who are completing the five-semester program, they can graduate to become lab, research, chemical and environmental technicians and chemical plant and system operators.
Hernandez said the program’s placement rate averages above 90 percent.
“We don’t have any problems placing our students,” he said. “The majority of students receive job offers before they even graduate.”
Refineries, testing laboratories and companies such as Shell, Chevron and Valero hire graduates from this program.
Hernandez said what sets his students apart from other job candidates are the skills and hands-on experience they receive throughout the program by using identical, if not similar tools that are in industry and participating in real-world work experiences such as sampling water and other chemicals and touring treatment plants and landfills.
Hernandez said TSTC Chemical Technology has been around for 35 years and has a great reputation with employers. So much so, that the Shell Foundation recently awarded the program a $10,000 grant for student scholarships.
The scholarships go to the first 20 new students who enroll and register for Fall 2017 in Chemical Technology. Each scholarship is worth $500.
For more information or to register visit tstc.edu.