BY Amanda Sotelo
Texas State Technical College alumnus Sam Garcia was recently named the first Technician of the Year for 2017 at Mercedes-Benz of San Juan.
The Los Fresnos native, who now calls Harlingen home, has worked with Mercedes-Benz for 34 years. It was his first job after graduating from Texas State Technical Institute, now TSTC, in 1984 with a certificate in Automotive Technology, and he is still going strong as a team leader and master technician.
“I am so grateful to TSTC. It is because of it that I have had a long and successful career,” said Garcia. “I pride myself in my work, and it’s great being recognized.”
The 54-year-old comes from a family of six. The fact that his father was the only working parent gave Garcia pressure to find a job and make money quickly.
“I had to grow up fast,” he said. “I had to work to help my parents and help support my younger brothers.”
Garcia started his college career at Texas Southmost College, but it was not a good fit for him.
That’s when Garcia found TSTI.
“It was exactly what I needed,” he said. “I was in and out in about a year, and with the support and training I received I was ready to start working and earning an income.”
Garcia added that he will never forget the support he received from his instructors. To Garcia, the help he got in the classroom for finding a job was invaluable.
Immediately after graduating, Garcia received a job offer from a Mercedes-Benz dealer in San Benito, where he started as a technician’s helper. He later continued his career with Cardenas Metroplex in Harlingen.
TSTC changed his life in more ways than one. It was at the college that Garcia also met his wife. They have been married for 31 years.
“TSTC gave me a career, a wife, three kids and a grandchild,” Garcia said with a laugh.
Garcia hopes to return to TSTC, not as a student, but as a mentor for others. He said he is interested in giving other students the same kind of help his TSTC instructors gave him.
“I’ve returned to judge a couple of automotive competitions,” he said. “But I hope I can get the opportunity to become a mentor, take students under my wing and guide them in the right direction.”
Garcia added that he is impressed with all of the success stories TSTC creates and hopes his mentoring can help create more.
In the meantime, Garcia waits for warmer weather so he can enjoy the outdoors in his Technician of the Year prize: an all-terrain vehicle.
For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.