With a love for science and math, but no clear path on a career choice, Kathy Garza enrolled at Texas Southmost College, where she discovered herself and a major.
“Since I was small, science and math has always come easy to me,” said the 22-year-old. “I was in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program in high school, so it made sense to start exploring my STEM options at TSC.”
The Brownsville native started as a general studies student at TSC, but with guidance from her instructors and being an active member of the Chemistry and Physics Club, she realized she could earn an associate degree to kick-start a career in the STEM field.
She earned an associate in science degree from TSC in 2019.
“It was my general studies instructors and club advisors that inspired me, and helped me explore my options,” she said. “They helped me decide on a major and now I’m on my way to earning a bachelor’s degree.”
The TSC alum is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, but credits the foundation she built at TSC to her success as a woman in a STEM career.
“I had a seamless transfer experience because of everything I learned at TSC,” said Garza. “I was confident in my skills and prepared. I have applied everything I learned and the knowledge shared by my instructors to my university classes, at times being able to help other peers who didn’t receive the type of hands-on experiences I did at a community college.”
Although Garza is finding success, it hasn’t been easy.
“There have been a lot of nay sayers because I’m a woman in a male-dominated field,” she said. “Many have questioned my decision of pursuing a career in engineering. But this is my chance to prove that women belong just as much, if not more, than men.”
Garza said this is her love, her passion and nothing is going to stop her.
She hopes other women will also find the courage to follow their dreams of STEM careers, if that’s where their passion lies.
“Yes, engineering and other STEM-related careers are male-dominated fields, but we, as women, belong there too,” said Garza. “I hope others don’t let judgment or fear hold them back. It’s important that they follow their dreams.”
Garza’s goals are to graduate with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, and work in the aerospace industry.
“TSC has really allowed me to grow as a person and professional,” she said. “I know that it was my first big step toward a successful career – hopefully at SpaceX in my hometown.”
For more information about the TSC’s Science program, visit tsc.edu.