HARLINGEN — Nearly 400 students earned their certificates or associate degrees during Texas State Technical College’s commencement ceremonies at the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium.

In Friday night’s ceremony, Interim Provost Rick Herrera reminded those in their caps and gowns that the night was possible because of great ambition, sacrifice and commitment.

“In the words of American hero Cesar Chavez, ‘Si se puede,’” said Herrera. “I urge you to take this time on this day to remember that you stand on the shoulders of many who have paved the way for you. Do not take this day for granted.”

Business Management Technology graduate Elisa Ashraf earned her associate degree and said she credits and gives thanks every day for her husband and his endless support in helping her pave her educational path.

“He has supported me in every way possible just so I could stay focused and achieve this goal,” said Ashraf. “It took a lot of late nights and a lot of coffee, but he never left my side.”

The 30-year-old Raymondville native will return to TSTC’s University Center to pursue a bachelor’s degree from Wayland University in either Human Resources or Business Management.

For Welding Technology student Gumaro Castellano, this was a night to remember because the weekends spent working for gas money and tools and the 45-minute drive every day from McAllen finally paid off.

“This is another accomplishment in my book of life,” he said. “I hope I’ve made and keep making my family proud.”

The 20-year-old McAllen native earned his certificate in Welding Technology and said commencement speaker Patt Hobbs’ address really resonated with him.

“He told us that attitude is everything, and I firmly believe that,” he said. “It’s a good attitude that has given me so many opportunities, and I always keep that in mind.”

Hobbs serves as the executive director of Workforce Solutions Cameron and has devoted almost four decades to higher education, including 20 years at TSTC as the former provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

“We desperately need more TSTC graduates for our workforce,” he told the graduates and their families and friends. “You will be in high demand and have a definite advantage in seeking employment over other applicants because of your TSTC certificate or degree.”

He added that these students made the right choice in choosing TSTC and gave them some work ethic hints before they moved their tassels to the left.

From aptitude, attitude and responsibility to communication, critical thinking and problem-solving, Hobbs advised each graduate always to take these skills seriously.

“I hope you take the tips I have given you to the world of work,” said Hobbs. “We really do want you to succeed and if nothing else remember this: take care of your job and your job will take care of you. And please be kind to all you meet.”

TSTC’s commencement ceremonies mark the moment a student goes from candidate to graduate to TSTC alumnus, joining the network of more than 100,000 TSTC graduates.