Texas State Technical College’s commencement ceremony held Tuesday at the Rosenberg Civic Center was a celebration of many firsts for the college and for Precision Machining Technology student Eleazar Alanis Dorantes.
“You are the first graduating class of this newly created Fort Bend campus,” said Randall Wooten, TSTC vice chancellor and chief execution officer. “Tonight as you walk across this stage, many of you will become the first to graduate in your families.”
Which happens to be the case for Dorantes.
The 20-year-old Mexican native moved to the United States four years ago with his family and siblings and is a first-generation college graduate.
He received his certificate Tuesday night in Precision Machining Technology and was named one of only four Board of Regent honor graduates for his perfect 4.0 GPA (grade-point average).
“Graduating feels great. I can’t believe I’m finally here,” said Dorantes. “It’s exciting and it shows that all of my hard work paid off.”
Despite a slight language barrier and a daily 45-minute drive to and from school, Dorantes persevered.
“I’m proud of what I have accomplished,” said Dorantes. “I hope I’m setting a good example for my brothers and sisters and that this encourages them to continue their education. If I can do it, so can they.”
Dorantes’ mother Guadalupe Dorantes said she is very proud of her son. From a small machine shop in Mexico as a helper and a runner to a college graduate, she said he has come a long way.
“Since kindergarten he would tell me he was going to graduate from college. And here he is,” she said. “I am so proud of him. He is a great kid and it makes me happy seeing him work so hard and achieve everything he sets his mind to.”
Tuesday night’s commencement ceremony marked yet another milestone for the TSTC legacy and TSTC Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Mike Reeser had three important pieces of advice for the college’s graduates.
“Keep up with changes and reinvent yourself, stay true to principles and be someone your employers will treasure,” he said. “You want to be the person with world-class skills and be the someone they want.”
Other speakers included Master of Ceremonies and TSTC Field Development Officer John Kennedy and TSTC Board of Regent Joe Gurecky, a product of technical education.
“A technical education can change hundreds, even thousands of lives, the way it did for my wife and me,” he told graduates.
He spoke of his past from having to choose to pay rent or feed their children and about their found success.
“We took a risk starting our business, the way many of your took a risk coming back to school, but with hard work you find success,” he said. “Speaking of hard work, I have a Czech proverb I use often: Bez Prace-Nej su Kolache -- Without work there are no kolaches.”
The night ended with faculty lining the aisle and giving every graduate a high-five, handshake and a hug.
And as for Dorantes, he will return to TSTC in the fall to begin his journey to obtain an associate degree.