(ROSENBERG, Texas) - From high school dropout to college graduate, Mauro Blanco is proof that if you want something and work hard, dreams can become a reality.
Blanco, 45, graduated in December 2019 from Texas State Technical College’s Fort Bend County campus with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems with honors.
“There’s a breath of fresh air now that I’m done,” he said. “The beginning was a challenge, but I feel a lot better now.”
When the Eagle Lake native started his educational career at TSTC, he was working full-time and was a full-time student.
He had class from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and would work a night shift, spending most of his nights in his truck to stay close to campus for the next morning.
“It got hard balancing school and work, to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore,” said Blanco. “I was close to dropping out, but my instructor Ray Smith saved the day.”
He added that Smith played a key role in him graduating.
“He allowed me to come in on Fridays and Saturdays to catch up so I could keep up my grades,” he said. “This gave me the chance to focus on school. Had he not helped me, I would not have graduated.”
Blanco first returned to school for a degree that would help him advance into leadership roles within his long-time career in concrete manufacturing, but his interests and goals since beginning have changed.
“I ran into a lot of road blocks without a degree,” he said. “But now I find myself going in a different direction because I have more opportunities.”
Blanco is now working as a mid-level technician for Niagara Bottling in the Houston area. He received the job offer shortly after graduating from TSTC, along with several more.
“The plan was to be hired as an entry-level technician, but with my experience and degree, the company brought me in as a mid-level employee,” he said. “My degree is already working as it was intended. And I’ve never been more excited to start a new career. I feel like a kid on Christmas.”
Not only did TSTC and the degree he earned change his life, but it also changed that of his family.
“My family went along for the ride with me,” he said. “It really affected my grandchildren because before school we’d spend a lot of time together. But they recently told me how proud they are of me, and that felt good. My family was my inspiration and I could not have done it without their support.”
By beginning a new career, Blanco has begun a new chapter in life and said he did not want it to stop there.
Blanco said he hopes to continue his education online now that he knows he can balance school, work and life.
“I still dream of being a leader and help create new things,” he said. “And my degree from TSTC has led me to a successful career and has opened my eyes to what is out there and what I can do. It’s opened doors of opportunities I never thought possible.”
Industrial Systems offers two certificate pathways – Mechanic and Electrical, and two associate degree pathways – Electrical specialization and Mechanical specialization.
The program is also offered at TSTC’s Abilene, East Williamson County, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses.
For more information, visit https://tstc.edu/program/IndustrialSystems.