• May 15, 2024

STC Graduate Inspires As Mentor And National Guard

STC Graduate Inspires As Mentor And National Guard

South Texas College Computer Information Technology graduate Joey Quezada describes his journey to a bachelor’s degree as a tough road of resilience that has allowed him to embrace a mentor role for active-members and veteran students.

“Taking an active role in my education and as a Veteran Affairs work study at the Mid-Valley campus, has played a pivotal role in my reintegration process, allowing me to lead with a sense of purpose to continue helping others,” Quezada shared.

Graduating early at the age of 17 from Harlingen High School, Quezada developed a passion for computer technology which was amplified after creating a game application in one of his classes.

“We created an application in one of my high school classes and I remember feeling so excited and overjoyed after we got it to work,” he said. “While computers, programming and coding were something that intrigued me, I learned that college was going to be expensive, and I decided to join the Army after learning I could get help with school.”

Quezada describes his deployment at only 17 years old as an intense experience that presented itself with unique challenges, lessons, camaraderie and mentorship that he carries with him every day.

“After completing my basic training, I was sent to Germany and shortly after we had orders to go to Syria during an extremely turbulent time,” Quezada explained. “It was a living hell on earth, but what stayed with me was one of my non-commissioned officers (NCO) that acted as a mentor and the friendships I made with the guys.”

Quezadas return home in 2016 was far from a smooth transition as he experienced a dark period, that with the help of his brother, who also endured a deployment in Iraq, he was able to begin a fruitful academic journey at STC.

“I was in a very dark place mentally and emotionally when I got back home, the only person who could understand was my brother and he pushed me to continue with school,” explained Quezada. “I decided to slowly start that journey at STC in 2017. I struggled my first semester, but with perseverance and many tutoring sessions, I eventually earned my associate degree in Criminal Justice.”

Quezada says that STC has offered him a new lease on life by allowing him the resources necessary to study his passion for computer technology and fulfill his true purpose of lending a helping hand to his fellow soldiers.

“Shortly after coming home, I enlisted into the National Guard which prolonged my ability to complete school. However, with leadership backing me up, I decided to commit myself to school and finally pursue my passion for computer technology,” Quezada shared. “In doing so, I’ve been able to work in STC’s Veteran’s office in Weslaco and I’ve been able to connect with students who were in my position when I first came home.”

STC Mid-Valley Veteran Affairs Certifying Officer Lauren Matthews reflected on Quezada’s commitment to the things that matter to him most.

“Jose’s unwavering work ethic has made him an indispensable asset to the STC VA Office,” she shared. “Whether he’s inspiring his fellow soldiers to further their education or assisting current students with administrative tasks, Jose consistently steps up to lend a hand. His commitment to both his military service and personal development speaks volumes about his character, and undoubtedly, he will continue to do great things.”

Quezada, along with 49 other veteran graduates received their college certificates or degrees on May 4 at the Bert Ogden Arena.

Quezada says that its institutions like STC that help set up veterans with a second chance at life as he looks ahead to where his journey continues.

“STC has given me the opportunity to change my life and set me up for a future career within the military,” shared the 30-year-old. “STC warmly welcomed me from the very beginning, from registering for classes, working with supportive faculty and carefully setting me up with resources that best suited my needs. They’ve not only made my transition more seamless, but also enabled me to pay it forward for other students that walk through their doors, and all of those late nights of figuring out coding or re-visiting a lecture have finally paid off.”

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