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Summer vacation somehow did not materialize for Hana Mitchell.

After graduating from Harlingen High School South on May 26 she took a week off and then began summer semester speech and algebra classes at Texas State Technical College (TSTC) Harlingen, where she is an engineering major.  She graduated from Harlingen South as a Texas Scholar and became the first-ever recipient of the Presidential Scholarship worth $2,100. 

College President Dr. Cesar Maldonado initiated the TSTC scholarship and he delivered the commencement speech for Harlingen South.  He also serves as president of the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees.

“I just jumped all in at TSTC.  I didn’t wait to start or I might hesitate,” she said. 

Mitchell became a student worker on campus for the Center for Science & Math Education in the College Readiness & Advancement Department.  She assisted instructors and tutored students during summer semester in the Migrant Academic Achievement Residential Summer Program and the Texas PreFreshman Engineering Program.

“I like it at TSTC because the people are nice and fun to get along with.  It’s a good environment,” she said.

For Fall Semester 2012, she will take engineering, trigonometry, history and chemistry courses.  She also plans to continue in her capacity as a student worker.

It is part of an ongoing transition for her. A little more than a year ago she moved to Harlingen from Michigan, where she earned high school academic and music honors.  Mitchell left Harlingen South as a cadet master sergeant in the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and she is interested in entering the ROTC when she enrolls at a four-year university. 

As a fifth grader her career plans included becoming a concert violinist in a symphony and a foreign language specialist, possibly a professional translator.

Gradually, her academic and career goals changed as her father encouraged her natural interest in computers and her mother always told her that she could do whatever she chose to do.  Mitchell said that ROTC military training often leads to rewarding careers in cutting-edge technology.

“Engineering is really like fitting together the pieces in a puzzle,” she said.  “I really like it.  Some people misunderstand engineering because they think it is all math.  As long as a student pays attention and asks for help it comes rather easily.  There’s an emphasis on science concepts, too.”

In her spare time, she plays the violin and she always carries a note pad to give creative attention to her aspirations as a futuristic science fiction fantasy writer.  Her favorite book is Battle Royale by Koushan Takami.

She finds relaxation as a recreational video game player.  She claimed that she is not too competitive. “I kick people’s butts, but I just do it for fun,” she said and laughed.

Mitchell advised high school students to keep their eyes open for possible higher education and career options.

“Anything is possible,” she said. “You’ve got to look at what you want to do and then look for the college degree to match it and everything else will fall into place.” 

The Engineering Division programs include Wind Energy Technology, Telecommunications Technology, Mechatronics Technology, Chemical-Environmental Technology, and Biomedical Equipment Technology.  Its Computer Drafting and Design Technology Program recently changed its title to Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics. 

“The Associate of Science degree pathway within the Engineering Division is relatively new to TSTC,” said division Director Fernando Figueroa.  “There are more than 200 different types of engineering professions that include science, technology and mathematics.  The analysis, research and teamwork our students experience greatly benefits from industry partnerships and we are expanding the articulation agreements with universities for those who pursue bachelor degrees.” 

For details about engineering at TSTC call Figueroa at 956.364.4978 or Michael Murphy at 364.4878. 

Norma Salazar, director of the Office of Student Success at TSTC, said students who are undecided about a major and want to research possible careers will find resources at the Office of Student Success.  It’s located in the College Readiness & Advancement Building (Building B), Room B-101. 

“We provide a variety of services designed to help students as they navigate through college including supportive guidance and advisement, peer mentoring, tutoring, referrals to campus and community resources, and financial resources,” Salazar said.  “The staff is enthusiastic about informing and educating students about scholastic policies and other factors that may affect their ability to progress through college.”  

Director of Student Recruitment Dora Olivares said that her office assists new, incoming students work toward college and career plans.  “I recommend that all new students communicate with their TSTC recruiter or stop by the Student Recruitment Office to complete the admissions process.  All new students must complete the admissions process and attend New Student Orientation prior to registering for classes,” she said. 

The main phone numbers for the Student Recruitment Office is 800.852.8784, extension 4117, and 956.364.4117.  The office’s Web page is

New Student Checklist

1.      Submit admissions application

2.      Apply for financial aid (if eligible)

3.      Submit official transcripts (high school/college/GED)

4.      Submit THEA/Accuplacer/COMPASS test scores

5.      Submit proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination if under the age of 30

6.      Attend New Student Orientation

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