Orlando Chavez is a 19-year-old from Red Oak who did not look far to make his college decision.
Chavez is a precision machining technology major at Texas State Technical College, which is next door to Red Oak High School and where he graduated from in 2018.
"I have enjoyed getting to learn how to use the milling machines and lathe," Chavez said. "It was a major learning curve, but it was the best thing I learned so far."
Theo Comer, an instructor in TSTC's Precision Machining Technology program, said Chavez has been a joy to teach.
"He shows an energy to learn and the effort to do it correctly," Comer said.
Chavez also serves as a TSTC student ambassador. Applicants for that position are interviewed by campus student recruitment staff and chosen for their academic work, along with their communication and leadership skills.
Chavez works at campus events, such as the recent spring counselors update, gives tours to campus visitors and assists potential students with their TSTC applications.
"He's not only gaining the technical skills needed to be a successful machinist, but he is also gaining valuable soft skills to enhance his employability," said Marcus Balch, TSTC provost.
After graduation in December, Chavez wants to work in an area maintenance shop and possibly pursue a bachelor's degree in engineering.
He said the first time he walked into the TSTC Industrial Technology Center in Red Oak was during a spring open house event.
"I would have to say TSTC was very convenient for me," Chavez said. "I didn't want to go to a university because the environment was very different. I didn't want to go as big. It's close to home, and I didn't really have to spend as much as at other universities."
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.