(BROWNSVILLE, Texas) – Federico Rodriguez’s journey at Texas Southmost College began as a student and over the years transitioned into a career of which he is proud.
The Weslaco native has now been an instructor at TSC for nearly two years, a career change that was unimaginable to the 53-year-old.
“Back in the ‘80s my career was in electronics,” said Rodriguez. “I dabbled in construction, wall coverings and HVAC within my family’s business, but to me electronics was the wave of the future and that’s what I focused on. But as in life, everything changes.”
With changes in technology, Rodriguez’s career options in electronics also fluctuated.
That’s when he decided to transition into his family’s construction business, introducing him to a world of opportunity.
To this day, Rodriguez is still the proud owner of his own wall covering business, but with a family to support and the desire for new skills and a new career, he decided to return to school.
“Little did I realize that the new journey I was about to take at TSC would change my life forever,” he said.
Rodriguez is now a proud alumnus and full-time TSC instructor with a certificate in small wind turbines and associate degrees in Commercial and Residential Electrician and HVAC/R.
He also recently received certification as an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 500 and 510 trainer.
“I have found success in my new career thanks to the training I received from my instructors at TSC,” he said. “They always went above and beyond to ensure I understood processes, to be there for me with resources when I struggled, and to open my eyes to new perspectives of the industry. TSC showed me higher education was possible.”
Rodriguez added that looking back at the encouragement and motivation he received from his instructors is what helped him decide to become an instructor when the teaching opportunity came up.
“I was scared,” said Rodriguez. “But it was my former instructors again who helped me realize I was already a teacher within the industry, so bringing it into the classroom would not be a problem.”
Rodriguez said he could not have a more rewarding career.
“I love it when I see my students grasp a concept and have ‘ah ha’ moments,” he said. “My number one job is to make sure these students succeed and no matter what happens, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Like many during the COVID-19 crisis, Rodriguez has adapted to new ways of remote teaching, especially for a program that is primarily hands on.
“This process has taught us a lot about implementing innovative technologies into our curriculum that will help show our students processes when they are not in the labs,” said Rodriguez. “And we’ve found a great balance. In fact, even after all of this is over, I still plan on using these technologies in the classroom.”
Rodriguez said he looks forward to what the future holds for his education and career as well as for his students.
“I plan on continuing my education so I can become a better teacher,” he said. “TSC has definitely given me the learning bug.”