'STC is our community'
Student of the Week: Omar Bernabe
“I was hesitant at first, but as soon as you enroll at STC you realize that everyone there is there to help you. Whether it’s with your studies or offering you free WiFi, providing access to the food pantry, whatever you need, it’s a community."
It’s never too late to go back to school. That’s the message from Omar Bernabe, a 30-year-old returning student from Edinburg who is thriving academically at South Texas College, where he is on track to earn an Associate of Science Degree in Engineering.
“I’m really happy with my decision to come to STC,” Bernabe said. “It changed my life.”
The road to South Texas College was a circuitous one. A migrant worker as a youth, Bernabe would find himself working in the fields – mostly in Idaho with family – from before dawn until sundown during the summers and vacations picking everything from corn to potatoes.
After graduating from Veterans Memorial High School in Mission, Texas, Bernabe moved to East Lansing, Mich., and enrolled at Michigan State University. A couple years later, he was back home to help his family and found a job as an aviation technician at McCreery Aviation in McAllen. He later applied for a position at Space X but was turned down.
“I realized I needed more technical skills and my girlfriend told me that was a good reason to go back to school,” Bernabe said. “I was hesitant at first, but as soon as you enroll at STC you realize that everyone there is there to help you. Whether it’s with your studies or offering you free WiFi, providing access to the food pantry, whatever you need, it’s a community. At Michigan State, you’re just another number. Not here.”
The Engineering program at STC closely parallels the first two years of education students receive at most engineering schools. In fact, many STC program graduates transfer to an engineering school and obtain a degree in one of the various engineering fields.
Professors were impressed with his determination. A few provided references for a paid internship through the HSI Summer Bridge program at the Texas A&M University, Kingsville, College of Engineering in July.
“If it wasn’t for STC and the professors here, I wouldn’t have been able to get into that program,” Bernabe said.
Bernabe has his sights set on transferring to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley for a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and working in aviation technology. He’s on track to graduate from STC next spring.
His advice to other students: “Learn about the resources. Talk to your professors. They’re here to help you.”