By Amanda Sotelo, TSTC Staff
After serving his country for two decades, Jose Flores returned to Texas State Technical College to finish what he started and ended up staying as the newest Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology lab assistant on campus.
“I never expected that I would work at TSTC,” said the 46-year-old. “But time as a student here was great, and now as an employee it’s been even better.”
It was back in 1993 when Flores first stepped foot on the TSTC campus as a student to study Automotive Technology.
“I was young and not in the right mind set,” said Flores. “So I didn’t do very well in my classes. That’s when I decided to enlist in the military.”
The Santa Rosa native served as a Marine for 20 years, with three combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Upon retiring from the military in March 2016, Flores decided not to wait and begin school immediately. But he was not sure what to study.
It wasn’t until the air conditioner at his home broke, and he had to pay to repair it, that he realized what his next step needed to be.
“I couldn’t believe how much it cost for only an hour of work,” he said. “It right then and there when I decided, as a homeowner, that I need to learn how to do this.”
And learn he did.
He graduated in 2018 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC Technology, and finished what he started in 1993 by graduating with the Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology last year.
“College was so different this time around. I was in a better mindset and determined to finish college,” he said. “Becoming a college graduate was always in the back of my mind and here I am. Life is good and I’m happy.”
Before completing his automotive degree, he received the opportunity to work in the HVAC department, and he jumped at it.
He said working as a lab assistant is his chance to connect with students, be a mentor and confidant, since he knows college can sometimes be intimidating.
“TSTC prepared me for this chapter,” said Flores. “And I want others to have the same success. I want to be the person that encourages them to keep going, ask questions and continue learning. It’s a fast-paced environment and I want to be here for the students that need a hand.”
As for Flores, he hopes to continue his education because his goal is to someday grow with TSTC, and either become an instructor or obtain a leadership position.
“TSTC has become a family,” he said. “It was here when I left and here when I returned. It’s an institution you can rely on. And I plan on growing with the college. TSTC is a great place to work.”
HVAC Technology is also offered at TSTC’s East Williamson County, Fort Bend County, North Texas and Waco campuses.
For more information on HVAC Technology, join us at TSTC’s Open House on Thursday, March 12. To register, go to https://tstc.edu/openhouse.
Or visit https://tstc.edu/programs/HVACTechnology to learn more about the program.