Local city official among STC graduates
Pharr City Clerk Hilda Pedraza will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in Operations Management during STC’s Commencement Ceremonies on Saturday, December 10 at Bert Ogden Arena.
It was 2015 when Hilda Pedraza first began her college journey at South Texas College. Now seven years later, she has received an associate degree and is about to earn a bachelor’s degree.
The Pharr city clerk will be one of more than 2,400 students who will graduate Saturday from STC, and the Operations Management graduate said she never thought this day would come.
She is even graduating with honors with a 3.89 GPA.
“I waited so long to go to college…it really wasn’t something I thought about doing when I was younger,” said the 54-year-old. “But times are changing and to open myself up to more opportunities and for self-fulfillment, I needed to do this.”
Being a full-time employee for the city of Pharr and a part-time student though came with its challenges, but none that she said would stop her from moving forward.
“I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy,” said Pedraza. “It took a lot of time management, missed family functions and working vacations, but STC made it possible for me to reach my goal, from supportive instructors to tutoring, among many other resources. It took a village, but I did it.”
“I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy. It took a lot of time management, missed family functions and working vacations, but STC made it possible for me to reach my goal, from supportive instructors to tutoring, among many other resources. It took a village, but I did it.”
In addition, Pedraza was introduced to Competency-Based Learning by her instructors who recognized her wealth of experience.
Competency-Based Learning (CBE) allows students to put their existing knowledge or experience toward college credit through examination, allowing students like Pedraza to finish a 16-week semester in seven weeks or less.
So, amidst the juggling of her city duties such as elections, records management and city commission meetings, she got to use her 22 years of experience with the city to obtain a degree.
Prior to being appointed city clerk, Pedraza has also served as an administrative assistant, project manager and assistant city manager.
“CBE was a game changer for me,” said Pedraza. “I got to apply on-the-job skills to my classes and vice versa. It was the best of both worlds. I’m so thankful that STC gave me this opportunity. It’s not easy, but not impossible.”
The mother of two and new grandmother said that officially being a two-time college graduate makes her feel proud and makes all the hard work worth it.
She is now ready to enjoy every moment again with her family and friends and getting back to her hobbies, including exercising and watching television.
“School has been a part of my life now for so long, I don’t know what to do with myself, but I’m getting better at enjoying my free time, which was once taken up by homework and studying,” said Pedraza. “I definitely have a good balance now of experience, plus degrees and like I always say there’s always room to grow.”
She added, “A master’s degree may be in my future, but for now, I’m living and enjoying this moment and thank you STC, for helping me grow and accomplish my goals. I am proof that it’s never too late and you’re never too old to set out and do what’s in your heart.”
For more information on STC’s bachelor’s degree and Competency-Based Learning programs, visit southtexascollege.edu/academics/cbe/.
Registration for spring 2023 is underway. Classes begin January 17, 2023.