Texas Border Business
McAllen, TX – Attending South Texas College together afforded husband and wife Jose and Christabel Jasso the opportunity to plan for the future of their family while bonding as a couple.
Graduating at the same time with the same degree, a Bachelor of Applied Technology in Technology Management (BAT-TGMT), both say the experience brought them closer together and enabled them to motivate their own children to succeed.
“Our talks became school-related, and we began to bond on different levels,” Jose said about attending college with his wife. “Our conversations changed, whether it was about school or our assignments, my wife was a great helper when it came to getting things done. We know this is our life now.”
Jose is currently employed by STC as an instructor in the Heating, Ventilation, AC, and Refrigeration (HVAC&R) program. Christabel has worked in banking for the last 13 years.
Attempting to complete her bachelor’s off and on for the last 10 years, Christabel says she juggled part-time classes but was never able to finish. That all changed when Jose discovered the BAT-TMGT was competency-based, meaning it allowed them to test out of classes instead of staying a full semester. This enabled them to graduate sooner, saving both time and money.
The Jassos say they were able to achieve their bachelor’s degree in a year and a half, and will now seek to pursue their Masters in Business Administration likely at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.
“I could relate to the information I received while studying for my bachelor’s degree because I have been in banking for so long,” Christabel said. “I had a different point of view in reference to business, so it gave me an insight when I realized that being a supervisor is different from being a manager, and it made me understand the changes and strategies used to implement them.”
STC conferred 2,969 degrees in three ceremonies on Dec 1. The college awarded 321 Bachelor’s degrees, 691 degrees from the Business, Public Safety, and Technology Division during the 9 a.m. ceremony.
STC conferred 1, 155 degrees from the Division of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the 1 p.m. ceremony, and then conferred 547 degrees from the Nursing and Allied Health Division and 255 graduates from the Division of Math and Sciences at 5 p.m.
“This is the day we honor you, our graduates. We are here to celebrate your graduation from South Texas College. All of us at South Texas College, the Board of Trustees, our outstanding faculty, staff, and administration all join me in extending this welcome,” STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed told graduates.
“Graduating from a college or university is an honor few receive,” Dr. Reed said. “Many of you are the first in your family to earn a college degree. That dream and the desire to go to college is appreciated by all of us here.
“We were there to support you on your journey to graduation, and we all know that it wasn’t an easy journey. There were lots of trials and tribulations, but you persevered and you are here celebrating your graduation,” Dr. Reed said. “We are very proud of each and every one of you.”
Also at graduation, triplet sisters Madison, Marie, and M’Kayla Siclait talked about their own experiences as they motivated each other to complete their degrees. Madison graduated with an associate degree in Political Science, Marie received her associate in Biology, and M’Kayla received an associate in Business Administration Management.
Born in New York, the Siclaits arrived in the Valley by way of Houston, and are currently high school seniors graduating from McAllen ISD’s Achieve Early College High School.
“There was definitely a bonding experience,” Madison said. “We would all get classes that would end at the same time and we’d grab lunch together, or during the summer we would all take morning classes and often struggle through the day together. I appreciate that we were able to spend time together before we head to different colleges.”
Marie is looking at a bachelor’s degree in Biology at Rice University with the hopes of one-day entering medical school. Madison is looking to attend Brown for her law degree, and M’Kayla has already been accepted to St. Mary’s University and also is awaiting responses from Texas A&M and UT-Austin seeking to enter a career as an economist.
“I believe that in order to succeed, you have to make sure you enter something you are passionate about,” M’Kayla said. “You have to study something that you’re willing to really focus on and spend all your time on because if it’s not something you’re passionate about, you won’t make those good grades that you need to succeed and graduate.”
One STC graduate made special use of his walk across the stage. Isaiah Martinez, who graduated with an Associate of Arts in Business Administration revealed an important question written on his hat. It read ‘Chloe, will you marry me?’”
And she said yes.
“It started a couple of weeks ago at a Sunday breakfast,” Martinez said. “Ideas were being thrown around for the hat. My mom suggested we do a proposal and we ran with it. It was wonderful how STC was willing to accommodate me for this biggest moment, it was just an awesome thing.”
His now fiancé was surprised to see the message across the screen. After a lengthy relationship, the couple is excited to begin the next stage in their lives.
“After seven years of a long-distance relationship and not knowing when we’re going to see each other and planning months in advance…I’m speechless.” Chloe Woodward said.
Faces in the crowd:
Brothers Steven and Erick Carballo stood together before walking across the stage with an Associate of Arts in Business Administration.
“It feels pretty awesome,” Steve said. “I’m the older brother, guiding him through the right path makes me feel good.”
“It’s always been a pleasure to be next to my brother and it’s a pleasure in this moment to graduate next to him,” Erick said.
Carmen Galindo served as a parliamentarian in the Student Government Association at STC’s Mid-Valley Campus. She graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational leadership.
“It’s been quite a journey, being a single mother I had a lot of obstacles along the way, but through perseverance and just never stopping we are here today. It hasn’t hit me yet but in a couple of minutes it will get real.”
Her time with the student government contributed to her personal and educational growth.
“Along the way in my journey, I was part of SGA. It really shaped me and formed me, getting ready to be outside in the community and serving. It helps you pull out what you have inside, your true leadership.”
Jorge Escobedo graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Technology in Computer & Information Technologies. His journey to graduation was a long road but he earned his degree and proudly walked with a cap decorated with a Mexican and U.S. flag.
“I was born in Mexico, my parents brought me over to the United States when I was one-year-old. I was raised in Michigan and about 20 years ago I moved to the Valley,” Escobedo said. “What I liked about STC from the beginning everybody always lends a helping hand. I learned a lot about technology. Ten years ago I didn’t know anything, not even what computer I was using. It’s very important to be up to date with tech, today you might be updated but tomorrow there’s always something new.”
Noemi Cantu earned her Bachelor of Applied Technology in Computer & Information Technology. In her last week on campus, she realized that her seven-year journey was coming to an end. After earning a certificate, then associate’s degree and finally her bachelors she wrote a heartfelt letter to the faculty that helped her along the way.
“My professors motivated me to keep going to school because more doors would open for me and then I would go talk to the counselors who would help me make my schedule,” Cantu said. “As I kept going the thing that really helped me a lot was that everyone was so knowledgeable. STC is really a family-oriented college. They were always there to support me and back me up and help me succeed.”
At 54-years-old she can be considered an unconventional student but Cantu said she always felt encouraged by professors and advisers alike.
“You’re never too old, it’s just a number,” Cantu said. “STC never made me feel like ‘Why are you getting a degree at your age?’ instead it was ‘Get a degree, you can do it! You can compete just like everyone else can.’ That support and that love it resonated through all the time I was there. That’s why I wanted to share my heartfelt gratitude.”