TSC gives science student hope for a future in STEM-related field

TSC Science major Samantha Aguilar.

“I planned on graduating from high school and working immediately after,” said the 21-year-old. “No one in my family had ever gone to college, so I didn’t really see it as necessary.”

But one chemistry teacher at Rivera High School saw the Brownsville native’s potential and became her guiding light.

“It was in middle school and early high school when I discovered math and science, and the challenges they presented intrigued me,” said Aguilar. “But I never thought I could study and do this for a living, basically because I didn’t know where to start.”

Aguilar’s chemistry teacher Karen Bartnicki realized her potential and her struggle as the first in her family to explore college, so she took her under her wing and had weekly check-ins to ensure that Aguilar took all her college entrance exams and submitted all applications and necessary documents.

“I really couldn’t have done any of this without her,” said Aguilar. “I am where I am today because she cared.”

Immediately following high school Aguilar moved to San Antonio to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, but a bout of depression and anxiety forced her to move back home.

That didn’t stop Aguilar.

She is pursuing an associate degree in science at TSC and finds herself only two semesters away from becoming a college graduate – the first in her family.

“TSC has given me hope,” she said. “I’ve learned and grown so much here. Everyone has helped me find my way and has led me to resources that have helped me succeed. This was the best move I could have made.”

There is also one chemistry instructor at TSC that Aguilar admires the most – Celia Flores-Feist.

“Her way of teaching is so inspiring,” she said. “I want to be like her. She is the best in her field that I have ever known.”

After graduating, Aguilar plans to transfer to a four-year university to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, but she is also hoping that she is able to get a job at SpaceX in Brownsville as a researcher with her science degree.

“If anything, I have learned that college opens up doors of opportunity and can lead to the jobs you want,” she said. “I hope that my brothers see my journey and are inspired to go to college too.”

Aguilar said she also wants to inspire other girls and women to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) fields.

“There is no reason to be afraid of entering a male-dominated field,” she said. “If anything, it makes me want to do it even more so I can prove that women can do it too.”

For more information about TSC’s Science program, visit tsc.edu.

Registration for Summer and Fall 2020 started April 1.