Since kindergarten, the relationship between three childhood friends has withstood the test of time, experiencing nearly every milestone together including college graduation.
Texas State Technical College Welding Technology graduates Israel Grimaldo, Jose Acosta and Carlos Nieto recently earned certificates in their field and celebrating yet another commencement together.
“What are the odds that nearly 18 years later we’re still friends? They’re like my brothers,” said Nieto. “I’m so proud of us and how far we’ve come. We’re making something of ourselves.”
All three friends are Rosenberg natives and have graduated from Bowie Elementary School, B.F. Terry High School and TSTC together.
With nearly everything in common, it came as no surprise to their family and friends when they all chose to pursue welding.
Nieto, who graduated from TSTC with honors and a 3.5 grade-point average began his welding journey his freshmen year of high school.
In fact, all three friends were attracted to the field early on because of the hands-on work and the job opportunities available.
“I love building stuff and working with my hands,” said Nieto. “This is the perfect career for me.”
Acosta, who has two uncles who work in the field, added, “The idea that I can receive an affordable education, get a certificate and get a good job right off the bat is attractive.”
Nieto said he already bought a welding machine and is doing freelance jobs in repair and maintenance and some construction projects.
In fact, in addition to the hands-on learning they receive at TSTC, all three men have already worked in the field performing odd jobs here and there to help pay for school.
They agree they are fully prepared to tackle the industry, but for one the job hunt came sooner rather than later.
The original plan was for all three men to return to TSTC in the fall to pursue an associate degree and have one more graduation together, but Acosta decided on a different path.
“TSTC was a great choice for me, I think for all of us,” said Acosta. “I’m more than ready to start my career, I don’t want to delay it anymore, and because of the training I received I am fully prepared and confident to do so.”
Acosta is working for a Houston-based pipe making company as a pipe maker and hopes to someday pursue his associate degree, but said he is happy with his decision to work for now.
As for Nieto and Grimaldo, Hurricane Harvey set back the first day of school by nearly one month, but they are back and ready to graduate together with an associate degree in May one last time.
“Luckily all of our families were okay. We had to evacuate, but we were all blessed that we had our homes to come back to,” said Nieto. “And we’re ready to get back into the swing of things and finish.”
For more information on TSTC Welding Technology visit tstc.edu.