A New World of Possibilities
Student of the Week: Olivia Salinas
I think it’s important to get a degree or certificate because no one can take that away from you. At the end of the day that's something that you'll have forever. You won’t be limited anymore.
For South Texas College Dual Credit student Olivia Salinas, taking the opportunity to explore an unfamiliar field has led to a new potential career path.
Currently a sophomore at Weslaco Early College High School, Salinas is at the beginning stages of earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Manufacturing Technology (PMT). STC was the first place she had ever been exposed to the world of manufacturing and she has found a knack for the hands-on field.
“I didn’t connect to any of the other programs, so I just decided to explore manufacturing,” Salinas said. “I ended up really enjoying it. I like hands-on work and learning with the machines and everything. Being able to see the process of how things are made is interesting because pretty much everything around us is manufactured.”
The Precision Manufacturing degree at STC encompasses many different aspects of machining and manufacturing. Students earn NIMS credentials (National Institute for Metal-working Skills) which is a metal-working certification recognized by industries. Most of the courses are set up to simulate actual working environments and to prepare students for a successful career in the manufacturing field.
Salinas said she has just started working with the machines in her classes and is interested in the design process.
“We made a cube and had to design certain things and use blueprints,” Salinas said. “This year was our first year using the machines so it was really about learning the basics about them and what they can do.”
She has decided to commit to the field and hopes to develop a career in manufacturing after completing her education.
“After graduation I plan on getting a job here in South Texas and I’ll see where I go from there,” Salinas said. “I want to get experience here in manufacturing and then move, maybe upstate to something bigger.”
Salinas said she was encouraged by her mother to join the dual credit program. She’s still working on finding the right balance between her high school and college classes.
“It’s definitely difficult, but as long as you’re staying on top of everything, the coursework doesn’t get too bad,” Salinas said. “I really enjoy it because you’re getting high school and college done at the same time. While it’s difficult, it’s definitely worth it in the end to get your associate or certificate because it gives you something to work from.”
Salinas said she spends four days out of her school week attending her STC classes and feels fortunate to be in a small-classroom environment.
“I enjoy the small class environment especially because we are able to have more access to the machines,” she said.
With her fall semester done, Salinas said she’s looking forward to seeing what’s next on her course plan.
“Waiting is definitely nerve-wracking, but at the same time it's exciting that we’re going into new subjects in manufacturing technology,” she said.
Although Salinas won’t be ready to graduate until 2025, she knows the years will pass quickly, and she’s excited to accomplish something she can be proud of and call her own.
“I think it’s important to get a degree or certificate because no one can take that away from you,” Salinas said. “At the end of the day that's something that you'll have forever. You won’t be limited anymore.”