Texas Border Business
By Amanda Sotelo
From a migrant worker on vegetable farms to a technician on wind farms, Eva Gonzalez has found a new life with help from the Wind Energy Technology program at Texas State Technical College.
The 35-year-old is the first in her family to graduate from college. She first earned a certificate in Wind Energy Technology in 2017, and is expected to earn her associate degree in Fall 2019.
“I’m living proof that it’s never too late to follow your dreams and go back to school,” said Gonzalez. “This is a big deal for me and my family. College was way overdue.”
Before TSTC Gonzalez only had one year of prior college experience in which she completed a portion of her general academic courses, then she gave up on school and tried her hand at many different jobs.
She has worked as a pharmacy technician, a mechanic in the automotive industry, among other odd jobs.
Her longest run was at a Texas refinery where she started as a helper and through gradual growth was promoted to a foreman.
“I was at the refinery for four years and because a lot of work was contracted it was very unsteady,” she said. “I travelled more often than not, had no stability and no financial security. This is what encouraged me to go back to school.”
It was through a couple of friends that Gonzalez heard about TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program and because she loves working with her hands it was a perfect fit.
In fact, after receiving her certificate Gonzalez immediately began working. She first worked with Sky Climber for wind turbine blade support operation traveling the country, and most recently has found her place at Duke Energy in Lyford as a wind technician.
Gonzalez credits her newfound success to her positive learning experience at TSTC from the instructors to the hands-on training.
“Nothing was a surprise when I started working,” she said. “I was able to apply everything I learned in the classroom. I was confident in my skills and prepared for anything.”
She said the instructors were also a great source of knowledge and experience, and helpful when it came to job searching and providing motivation for her especially because Wind Energy Technology is a male-dominated field.
“My instructors and even my classmates are supportive of me,” she said. “But of course being a woman in the workforce is something different. I’ve worked my butt off to prove that I can do the job just as well, if not better, than some of the men. I’m fortunate that it has all been an easy adjustment for me.”
Gonzalez said she understands how intimidating it can be to enter a non-traditional program, but wants to tell others girls and women not to be afraid.
“Trust and believe in yourself; that’s the most important thing,” said Gonzalez. “Learn your skills, always keep learning, don’t be afraid to get dirty and work hard. With all of this no one can stop you.”
Her next goal is to get her associate degree as planned and advance her career within Duke Energy and hopefully one day become a site manager.
She even plans on returning to TSTC to pursue a degree in engineering.
“There’s no stopping me now,” she said. “My family has been a great influence on this success, especially my stepdad who is also a TSTC graduate. And I like to believe that my father, who passed away almost 10 years ago, is proud too and smiling down on me.”
Wind Energy Technology is also offered at TSTC’s Sweetwater campus.
For more information or to register for Fall 2019, visit tstc.edu.
The deadline to register for the Fall Semester is August 23. The first day of class is August 26.