TSC welding program sparks life-changing opportunities

George Wolfe always wanted a college education and now at 40, Texas Southmost College gave him the chance he needed to become a college graduate.

Wolfe is now one of more than 75 welding, electrical and plumbing students who graduated in December with their certificates of completion during a ceremony hosted by TSC’s Workforce Training and Continuing Education at the International Technology, Education and Commerce (ITEC) Center.

The Brownsville native didn’t have the opportunity to attend college after high school because he needed to work immediately and since then, Wolfe has worked at numerous refineries and other labor jobs to make ends meet.

“I’ve worked for as long as I can remember, but college has always been at the back of my mind,” said Wolfe. “I never had the time or money to pursue it though, so I took advantage of a difficult situation to turn it into a positive one.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a decrease in jobs in his industry, Wolfe has been laid off and without work. So when friend of his told him to explore TSC’s Welding program, he listened and began to look into the opportunity. To his surprise, he qualified for a full scholarship.

“I could not believe how things were aligning. This was my time,” he said. “It was now or never, so I took advantage of the situation and went for it. To say it has changed my life is an understatement. I’m feeling really proud of myself right now for never letting go of my dream. There’s a sense of accomplishment that can never be taken away. There’s a new chapter ahead of me, one that will allow me to better support my family and that will open doors of opportunity for me.”

TSC Associate Vice President of Workforce Development Joseph Fleishman, Ph.D. said programs like these are developed to provide a college experience to everyone and immediate employment opportunities.

“College is for everyone,” he said. “The impact our scholarships and programs have on an individual are life changing for them and their families. We are so proud of our graduates, and we know they will go on to be successful because they are hard workers and committed to their profession. Plus, we have a group of excellent industry partners hiring them.”

For Wolfe, this certificate means he gets to pursue a career in welding, where the number of jobs continues to increase, meaning his skills are in demand and he can work in the Rio Grande Valley, close to his family.

“I’ve traveled across the country, and I’m ready to work close to home,” said Wolfe. “With SpaceX and the liquidified natural gas industry expanding right in our backyard, having this certificate is going to allow me opportunities I wouldn’t have had before. My life has changed, I’m a changed person, and it’s because of TSC.”

Although he has graduated, Wolfe isn’t ready to bid farewell to TSC just yet. He will return in January 2022 to complete the college’s advanced welding class to add additional skills to his toolbox.

To learn more about TSC’s Workforce Training program and scholarships, visit tsc.edu/wtce.