• June 14, 2024

Students embrace engineering futures

Students embrace engineering futures

Accustomed to facing adversity, but emboldened to improve their community, a close-knit group of students from Roma say they are embracing their role as future engineers through a partnership between South Texas College and the Texas A&M Engineering Academy.

Having known each other since they were very young, the students from Roma say they have long helped each other through numerous challenges growing up and look forward to pushing each other as they look ahead to their future careers.

The Roma group consists of Santiago De La Rosa, Sebastian Gonzalez, Juan Jesus Garza and German Rivera who are among the 30 students starting the Texas A&M Engineering Academy in the fall. The students from Roma will be the first to represent Starr County in the group.

“We’re showing that Roma students can be just as successful as any other students from any other city, maybe even better. We can achieve the same and we also dream just like any other student does,” said Gonzalez, who says he has been inspired by his brothers who are already engineers in the field. “I see my participation in this academy with A&M as a forum to show that we can do better than most. But I also want to come back to my community once my education is done to mentor other family members and to help them continue their own education.”

Garza, also new to the academy, said he believes math is in his blood. Following in the footsteps of his uncle, who is a chemical engineer for SpaceX, he said he has participated in events like University Interscholastic League (UIL) Math and Number Sense since grade school.

He then followed a STEM-centered pathway through high school, which eventually led to an invite to study and participate in a coding academy at Harvard University.

“You need to have heart in order to succeed. Anything is possible, but more than anything, I look forward representing Roma and showing that the 956 is a force to be reckoned with,” Garza said. “Doubt is our greatest enemy. I know from experience that many people from our community feel that they aren’t good enough due to our lack of resources or being considered low class. I look beyond that and truly believe that any doubt can be overcome with drive and belief in yourself.”

Offered in partnership with Texas A&M University’s College of Engineering, the Academies program offers students an opportunity to pursue one of 22 majors within the College of Engineering at Texas A&M while co-enrolled at Texas A&M and STC.

Students are then able to transition, with automatic acceptance into Texas A&M’s highly competitive engineering program, to Texas A&M College Station, Galveston or the Higher Education Center at McAllen to complete their bachelor’s degree.

STC and Texas A&M University launched the Engineering Academy in 2023 and welcomed its first cohort in the fall.

Rivera said he became accustomed to adversity growing up in Miguel Aleman, the Mexican border town across the river from Roma. He became interested in engineering, specifically on the electrical side, helping his father address problems around the house.

“Miguel Aleman, which is in Tamaulipas, is somewhat underdeveloped so we had a lot of adversity, to say the least,” Rivera said. “Electricity was always our main issue, and our power would always be cut off at any given time, but my dad showed me how to overcome those difficulties and I ended up learning all about electricity because of it. Even though my father never received a good education, I was inspired to be better through his own challenges.”

De La Rosa said being the first in his family to go to college is his inspiration. Discovering a love for math and architecture as a child, De La Rosa said he found a whole new world when he was introduced to electrical concepts in high school.

“It was in my junior year of high school where I was introduced to things related to electricity like circuits and I enjoyed it a lot, and that’s what brought me to study engineering,” De La Rosa said. “For me, there is just so much excitement, and I am looking forward to this as well as contributing to the community where I hope to work. I look forward to making a difference in the place where I have most of my memories.”

Maricruz Hinojosa, project manager with the Texas A&M Engineering Academies program who was born in Miguel Aleman and raised in Roma,  said she can relate to the Roma students.

“I know what it means when they say you have to lean on your family because I know the struggles too,” Hinojosa said. “I want them to take advantage of those opportunities so that they can come back and do what it is they want to do. I’m excited for the future for these boys.”

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