By AMANDA SOTELO
Special to the VMS
HARLINGEN – For Jasmine Munoz, there has been a lot of pressure to succeed as a first-generation college student, but Friday night all of her hard work will pay off when she graduates with an Associate of Science degree in Biology from Texas State Technical College.
Not only has she earned her degree, but she is also the only student for fall 2019 to graduate as a Board of Regents honor graduate with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.
“It’s all still so surreal. I can’t believe I’m a college graduate and that I’m the only one,” said the 20-year-old. “And it feels really good knowing I have made my parents proud.”
The Los Fresnos native grew up in a humble home, with hard-working parents and her three younger siblings, and although times were not always easy, not going to college was never an option.
“There were times I didn’t know how my family could afford to send me to college,” said Munoz. “But I knew this was what I wanted so I wasn’t going to give up easily. Money has never been a reason to stop my family.”
Fortunately, Munoz received financial aid and scholarships, including the TSTC Texan Success Scholarship, which helped her pay for tuition, books and supplies.
“I am so thankful for the financial assistance I received. It made all of the difference,” she said. “Without it, it would have been a lot harder to get through school. This encouraged me to keep going and keep up my grades.”
Munoz added that her biology instructors and staff also played a big part in her success.
“I remember I was so nervous on my first day that my hands were shaking and I spilled coffee all over myself,” she said. “I was a mess, but everyone was so welcoming and comforting. And they continued to be that for me throughout my time in the program. They genuinely cared about my success; everyone’s success.”
So what’s next for Munoz?
“I’ve finished most, if not all, of my pre requisite classes for nursing,” said Munoz. “Nursing is my next journey and I’m going to push myself to reach that goal.”
As a frequent volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club and local nursing homes, Munoz said she’s developed a passion for helping others that inspires her to be a nurse.
“Everything I have learned at TSTC has prepared me for this next step in life,” she said. “And although it’s going to be filled with new challenges, I know I thrive with a challenge and I’m ready to create a different life for me and my family.”
Munoz hopes everything she is doing is setting a positive example for her younger siblings.
“There are have been times I have doubted myself and have been ready to quit, but I remember I have an example to set,” she said. “And I want them to see that everything is possible if you believe in yourself.”
Munoz is one of nearly 300 students graduating with a certificate or associate degree during TSTC’s commencement ceremonies on Friday at the Harlingen Convention Center.
Statewide, this month, more than 1,000 TSTC students have joined an alumni network that is 100,000 strong.
For more information, visithttps://tstc.edu.