BY Amanda Sotelo,
Edgardo Velez was speechless after being named the valedictorian for the Texas State Technical College Surgical Technology class of 2018 at the program’s recent pinning ceremony held at the TSTC Cultural Arts Center.
“This was a total surprise, I had no idea I was the valedictorian,” said Velez. “I was shaking and my heart was racing when I heard my name.”
It’s a tradition for the program to keep the name of the valedictorian a secret until the pinning ceremony.
The Mexico native who now resides in Harlingen, said he knew it was a tight race between him and another classmate, but his 3.8 grade-point average got him to the top.
“I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish and receiving this honor is great,” he said. “I’m proud of everyone in our program. Everyone has worked really hard to get here.”
The 20-year-old graduated with his associate degree only a couple of weeks ago during TSTC’s Summer Commencement Ceremonies and has already started his career at Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg.
“TSTC has been good to my family,” said Velez, whose mother is a 2016 vocational nursing alumna from TSTC. “After high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do or go. I was interested in the medical field though and TSTC had just what I was looking for.”
TSTC Surgical Technology Clinical Coordinator Yolanda Ramirez said it takes hard work, dedication and time – the kind of time that not every student is willing to give, to be the valedictorian.
“Velez possesses all of these attributes and more,” she said. “He did an outstanding job and demonstrated dedication to his academics, was inquisitive, eager to learn and always had a positive attitude.”
Velez was inspired to enter the medical field by his uncle who is a doctor in Mexico and his mother. And although he is unsure about his next educational step, he knows for sure the type of surgical technologist he wants to be.
“I want to be well-rounded and be able to assist the surgeon, doctors and nurses in any situation,” said Velez. “I want to be knowledgeable in all surgical aspects and be a valuable member of the surgical team.”
This is an admirable goal and one that TSTC Surgical Technology alumni Nadia Alanis and David Flores, who was also named the program’s Preceptor of the Year, advices these graduates to do.
“Do everything to the best of your ability,” said Alanis, a certified registered nurse anesthetist at Harlingen Anesthesia Associates. “Always have a plan, never forget that with sacrifice comes success, keep learning and never give up.”
“I was once in your shoes, it’s scary, but it’s the first step that takes you where you want to go,” said Flores, a certified first surgical assistant at Rio Grande Regional Hospital in McAllen. “As your preceptor I’m glad I’ve been able to guide you in the right direction and mentor you in this journey. Remain strong in academics, be enthusiastic about your career and always have a positive attitude.”
At the ceremony, Velez and 19 of his other peers were pinned, cited the Surgical Technology Pledge and heard remarks from fellow graduate and TSTC Surgical Technology Club President Angela Ramirez, TSTC Surgical Technology Senior Instructor Ana San Pedro and TSTC Surgical Technology Program Director Robert Sanchez.
“You have your career in your hands and how you work with it and pursue your dream is up to you,” Sanchez told his graduates. “You have the opportunity to be the best technologist you can be. This degree will allow you to pursue other academic endeavors you may never have imagined.”
For more information on the Surgical Technology program at TSTC, visit tstc.edu.
Registration is underway for Fall 2018 and classes begin August 27.