By Ian Griffin
Walking around the back of a neatly kept house, a very distinct sound rings out. As one walks closer, one can see the flash of bright light and a man hovered over a project with a welding mask on his head. The air fills with heat and the smell of two metals fusing together to form a bond. The light flash stops and the man stands up to lift his mask. Immediately, the infectious smile of Juan Garcia is showing. Garcia, a Northeast Texas Community College Alumni, is finishing up a project. His chest sticks out with pride, it is easy to see he loves to weld.
A man who is not afraid to face new challenges, Garcia is a first-generation American. He immigrated to America from Guatemala. His parents grew up in El Salvador and Honduras. They met each other along the border of Honduras and Guatemala. Latin America was in deep turmoil during this time, and Garcia’s parents couldn’t go to college. For the chance of a better life, Garcia immigrated to America with his parents.
Immigrating to America is not the only first for Garcia. He is also a first-generation college student. Garcia’s first steps into college planted the seeds for his family’s educational growth. Garcia credits his education and work ethic for his success.
It started when Garcia enrolled at Northeast Texas Community College during two different time periods. He attended in 2003 and once again in 2015 to 2016, in which he studied welding. Garcia completed the six-course certifications with NTCC and has enjoyed welding to this day. Garcia credits Sergio Sanchez, professor of welding, with his success.
“The way he teaches. He doesn’t just teach from the book, but he also teaches from experience,” Garcia said.
A smile came across Garcia’s face as he gave an example of Sanchez’s skillset.
“He can overhead stick weld on a scaffold while hanging with his right hand and welding with his left hand,” Garcia said.
Garcia’s wife, Sonia, attended NTCC in 2011 as the foundation for her future bachelor’s degree in Bilingual Education. Sonia currently teaches the first grade in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. Both of their children, Johnathan and Stephanie, attended NTCC. Johnathan studied Information Technology, whereas Stephanie studied Nursing. The seed that Garcia planted for higher education in 2003 has sprouted, blossomed and is bearing fruit within the Garcia family.
Garcia credits NTCC with his welding expertise and his success as a citizen of this country.
“Knowledge is the key to success, and they teach it here at NTCC,” Garcia said. “I learned how to speak in public and also how to weld, which later made me a successful and productive person in society.”
This knowledge seems to have served the Garcia family well. Garcia offered some advice for future college students.
“You can get the same or better education at NTCC than you can at a big named expensive school all while not wasting your money or your family’s money,” Garcia said.