Surgical Technology alum climbs ladder thanks to TSTC degree

Juan Sanchez

By Amanda Sotelo, TSTC Staff

Texas State Technical College class of 2005 alum Juan Sanchez grew up in a humble home with his two sisters and hardworking parents who traveled often as migrants to provide for their family, so when Sanchez finally graduated from TSTC, it was an achievement for everyone.

Sanchez moved to the Rio Grande Valley from Mexico with little to no knowledge of English and lived in a modest home with his family counting only on their stove for heat during the winter.

“I remember the house looked like an old warehouse, but my parents quickly made into a home,” he said. “And although we would sleep or bathe in the kitchen because our stove was our only source of heat, there was so much love and we felt like we had everything because of our parents. I always wanted to make them proud.”

The 40-year-old graduated from Surgical Technology with a certificate and an associate degree in 2005 and it all started with a flip of a page while looking at a TSTC pamphlet.

“I was working odd jobs and barely making any money. I wanted more and when I saw Surgical Technology I thought that looks like fun. I can do that,” he said. “And, once I met the program’s faculty and staff, I was sold.”

His journey in the program, however, did not come without its challenges.

The first time Sanchez pursued Surgical Technology he failed and had to leave the program.

“I was young and naïve,” said Sanchez. “I thought I could conquer the world by just being me and not needing to do anything else, but that quickly changed when reality hit.”

Sanchez did not give up though. He applied to the program again and got a second chance. This time he buckled down and made sure he graduated.

“I meant business. I was going to graduate,” said Sanchez. “And my instructors were amazing at teaching us the ins and outs of the profession, making sure we understood and truly learned concepts and processes and were always willing to lend a helping hand. They made all the difference to someone like me.”

He also added that he always keeps in mind the lessons of hard work and perseverance his parents always displayed to get their family ahead in life.

“My parents are honest, hardworking people who I admire. They are my inspiration for everything I’ve done and will do,” he said. “And by following their example I have been able to be successful.”

Immediately after graduating from TSTC, Sanchez started his career with Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen as a surgical technician and quickly climbed the ladder to becoming a surgical assistant and clinical supervisor. He was at Valley Baptist for nearly two decades.

He now works at Platinum Surgery Center in Harlingen as an administrator managing the day-to-day business ranging from budget, finances and implementing and revising policies, to surgeon and patient satisfaction surveys.  

“I hope my story can inspire someone, because I want others to see that you don’t need a four-year degree to find success,” he said. “The ladders I have climbed are because of the technical education I received at TSTC and hard work.”

Sanchez has even been able to open two successful businesses: Card my Yard and Prestige Lawn Care.

And although Sanchez is expected to graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in Health Care Services from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, he said he will always consider TSTC the place that helped him find his way in life.

“TSTC is my foundation and is what my entire career is based on,” he said. “I’m getting a bachelor’s degree because I feel like I needed a new challenge and my goal is to always keep growing.”

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