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STC Alumnus Reflects on His Journey from Inspiration to Leadership

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A 2004 graduate of South Texas College’s Engineering program, current operations manager at Halff Associates Marcos Diaz said his success boiled down to two things he learned at the college: commitment and preparation. STC Image
A 2004 graduate of South Texas College’s Engineering program, current operations manager at Halff Associates Marcos Diaz said his success boiled down to two things he learned at the college: commitment and preparation. STC Image
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By Joey Gomez

MCALLEN, TEXAS – South Texas College alumnus and engineer Marcos Diaz says it has been a great honor to give back to STC through his profession.

Over the years as a civil engineer, Diaz said he has been honored to work on numerous contracts, primarily civil improvement projects, with the college. His work with STC has included the design of campus parking lots, portable buildings, as well as mechanical, electrical and plumbing design for facilities at all campuses from Starr County to Mid-Valley, he said.

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But the one major thing that alumnus Marcos Diaz said he learned at South Texas College early on was the value of commitment and preparation.

Arriving with his family from Mexico as a teenager, Diaz said it was a fortunate twist of fate that they settled a mere stone’s throw away from STC’s Pecan Campus. Essentially seeing the college from their front yard every day, Diaz said he and his siblings were inspired to pursue higher education every time they stepped out their door.

He and all of his siblings would eventually graduate from STC, he said.

“There was never a question about attending STC. I always knew the college would cross my path. I remember hearing about STC during career days in high school and it also helped that my parents lived right behind the college,” Diaz said. “It was an easy decision to say, ‘While I figure things out, I’m going to do my basics and get an education at STC,’ but then my inspiration really came from an architectural drafting class I took in high school. That pointed me in the right direction.”

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Upon graduating from Nikki Rowe High School in 2001, Diaz said he entered STC with a goal to initially pursue architecture. Naturally gifted in mathematics, Diaz said he would tutor at the campus’ Center for Learning Excellence (CLE) facility in between classes and was drawn to engineering through his work with students.

“I enrolled in the engineering program because I knew the basics from that degree like math, chemistry and even biology that would help me,” Diaz said. “STC honestly gave me the time to grow up and be able to realize what I wanted to do. And that’s when I discovered that I liked engineering, particularly civil engineering, as the field is related to the architecture services that I wanted to pursue.”

Graduating from STC with an associate degree in Engineering in 2004, Diaz said he then went on to Texas A&M Kingsville and eventually received a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering.

Entering the workplace, he began his career at Halff Associates, an engineering consulting firm in McAllen, as a project manager in 2006 and would remain in the office for 11 years before moving to San Antonio in 2017.

Diaz said he returned to the Rio Grande Valley in 2019 as a team leader before being named operations manager of Halff’s McAllen office in April 2023, overseeing a staff of 69 people. 

“I always get very excited about the growth of the college and where it’s going,” Diaz said. “The college still inspires me to make it a priority to talk to young kids, mentor them into their careers and inspire them on the path that they should follow. I am living proof that the more the college grows, the more opportunity there is.”

Reflecting on his experience at STC, Diaz said the college is vital in its role to create more opportunities for students looking to break into professional careers despite the obstacles given to them.

“I know that our area tends to be a low-to-medium income area, but I think just having more educational opportunities for young people to go to institutions like South Texas College creates more opportunities for the Valley to grow as a whole,” Diaz said. “South Texas College is vital because it shows the type of people we have, the quality of work we can produce and the leaders we can develop. I can always see the group of kids who are really focused on their work, and you can just tell that they will be great leaders someday.”

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