09:42 AM

Returning to school to strengthen her talent

Student of the Week: AMBER BENAVIDES

I told my husband that I never realized I could do this. Why didn't I ever realize I could do computer support for a living or could go to school for this? I was made for this field.

STC Student of the Week Amber Benavides

Amber Benavides knew she could find her second chance to pursue higher education at South Texas College. What she wasn’t expecting was to turn an unassuming talent into a future career.

The Weslaco native will graduate this spring with an associate degree in Computer Support Specialist after earning her Computer and Internet Specialist Certificate from the Computer and Advanced Technologies program.

Benavides said she’s always been the person whom friends and family members turn to when they need assistance with technology.

“I told my husband that I never realized I could do this,” Benavides said. “Why didn't I ever realize I could do computer support for a living or could go to school for this? I was made for this field.”

Benavides said there was a 10-year gap from when she graduated high school to the time she enrolled in college.

She became a mother of three during that decade, but knew she still had a calling for higher education. So, when STC was offering COVID-19 relief funds to help pay for tuition, she took the opportunity to enroll.

“I went into the Computer and Internet Specialist program because I knew it was a certificate I could earn quickly,” Benavides said. “I knew I always liked computers, and thought a certificate could to help me find a job. Then I was told, ‘Hey, you’re really good at this,’ and realized I could stay with the program and earn an associate degree.”

The Computer Support Specialist associate degree prepares students with the comprehensive skills required to excel in the industry. Graduates gain advanced skills in computer architecture programming, installation, maintenance and troubleshooting of computer hardware, software, mobile and peripheral devices.

Benavides said she’s grateful to the program and her internship for providing a variety of maintenance experience and allowing her to engage with the latest technology in a practical setting.

“I would tell future students that if they want to gain a lot of experience and have a hands-on education, then come to STC,” Benavides said. “When I speak to friends at other schools, they’re always surprised by how much hands-on work I do. And, there's just so many options. It's not just computer support. There's also computer science, cybersecurity and more. Any of these can lead to the possibility of a bachelor's degree in Information Technology.”

Benavides added that she’s proud of the professional certifications and national accreditations that are available to STC students.

“I've done job interviews where they’ve been impressed that I already have these certificates,” she said.

Benavides said she was familiar with the STC Mid-Valley campus since she was a Dual Credit student in high school. But, because of the freedom of her major, Benavides has been able to take classes at both the Mid-Valley campus, where she’s completing her internship, and the Technology campus in McAllen. She appreciates the knowledge of her instructors and the opportunities that are available at each campus.

“I love the people at STC and the different outlooks at each campus,” Benavides said. “I've done hours at every campus and I really am here for the environment, knowledge and accommodations they offer to students. I feel like I've just made so many connections at STC. Not just at the Mid-Valley campus, but Tech and Nursing, as well. It really is a community.”

Benavides said she also enjoys seeing the variety of resources and Student Life activities that are available at each campus. From the wellness center and day care available at the Mid-Valley campus, to the upbeat events that energize students at the Nursing and Allied Health campus, there’s always an outlet for students, she said.

“Everyone is so welcoming and flexible to what you have going on in your life,” Benavides said. “Every day I find out something new about STC, and I love that. I’ve been wanting to come back to school for a long time, and I want to be here as long as I can. Whether it’s earning a bachelor's degree next or even coming back for another associate degree.”

For more information about programs in Computer and Information Technology, visit www.southtexascollege.edu/academics/computer-info-technology.