By Amanda Sotelo, TSTC Staff
Precision Machining Technology students at Texas State Technical College are celebrating this week thanks to a generous donation from the Gene Hass Foundation.
The foundation, with a mission of increasing the number of skilled computer numerical control (CNC) machinists out in the workforce, awarded the program $15,000 to use for scholarships to help students finish the Precision Machining Technology program strong.
“Their mission is like ours: produce highly-skilled machinist and get them placed in the workforce,” said TSTC Precision Machining Technology lead instructor Isaac Gonzalez. “We appreciate everything this foundation is doing to inspire our students and new generations of machinists, and helping them reach their goals.”
The scholarships will be awarded to Precision Machining Technology students based on need and will range from $250 to $2,500 to help with tuition, books, supplies or room and board.
“This type of money is a huge help for our students. Financial insecurity among students is more common than realized,” said Gonzalez. “And this gives them that motivation to finish.”
For Precision Machining Technology student Aaron Lerma, who will be graduating with his certificate in Fall 2020, this money came at just the right time.
“My family is having a hard time right now, it’s been difficult just paying the bills,” said the Brownsville native. “So this money will help not only me, but my parents. Hopefully I can help alleviate some stress and have money for gas since I commute.”
The 19-year-old added he’s excited to graduate so he can start working and contributing to his family’s finances.
“I would have loved to get an associate degree, but I really need to start working. Maybe someday once I can save up enough money,” he said. “For now, I want to give a big thank you to the organization that gave my program this money. Because this is a big deal for many of us and will allow me to graduate.”
His fellow classmate Maria Lara from Progresso shared the same sentiment.
“I’m currently not working so things have been tough,” said the 22-year-old. “And with this scholarship I can now afford to get food.”
Lara will be graduating with her associate degree in December and said she is grateful for this scholarship.
“This money is really going to come in handy and I want the organization that gave us this opportunity to know that it is greatly appreciated,” she said. “This is going to help me continue working toward my dream of starting my career and owning a business someday.”
Gonzalez said this isn’t the first time they’ve worked with the Gene Haas Foundation to give students scholarships. The foundation has donated to the program for at least three years.
And an added bonus is that this year’s donation will also go toward paying for precision machining students’ SkillsUSA uniforms, literature and tools.
SkillsUSA provides quality educational experiences for junior high, high school and college students who are in training programs focused on trade, technical and skilled service occupations. These educational experiences include conferences and hands-on competitions, which TSTC Precision Machining Technology students participate in annually.
“SkillsUSA is a big part of our year and plays a role in our students’ training, networking opportunities with industry professionals and showcasing their skills,” said Gonzalez. “And this contribution will help us continue that tradition.”
Students enrolling in Precision Machining Technology in Spring 2020 will also have the opportunity to apply for a scholarship.
“This money all around has been a great benefit to our program and its students,” said Gonzalez. “It is helping us fill a demand that is increasing in the industry by allowing our students the opportunity to worry a little less about money and more about graduating.”
For more information on Precision Machining Technology, visit https://tstc.edu/programs/PrecisionMachiningTechnology.