HCTC scholarship winners are thriving after college
HCTC believes education is the key to prosperity. As an engaged member of the communities it serves, the cooperative is proud to support local students through the HCTC scholarship program.
Each spring, HCTC awards scholarships to graduating high school seniors in its service area. Since 1996, the cooperative has given more than $748,000 to 470 recipients. Connection recently caught up with three of those scholarship winners to see where life has taken them and how HCTC’s support helped them achieve their goals.
After several years away, Brianna Fisher, a 2014 graduate of Ingram Tom Moore High School, is back in Kerr County. She’s now a registered nurse at Peterson Regional Medical Center. Returning home to launch her career was always her plan.
“Growing up, I was just always interested in health care,” she says. “Being in a rural community, health care is always a place where there’s a need for growth, and I wanted to be a helping hand. I love it! I learn something every day.”
Fisher graduated from Texas A&M with a bachelor’s degree in science and health in 2018. She earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Texas Medical Branch last August. The HCTC scholarship helped Fisher cover the cost of her books and supplies during her first semester in College Station.
With a passion for women’s health, she has set her sights on a career as a labor and delivery nurse. “I want to do a year of the basics and then transfer to labor and delivery and work with women’s health,” she says.
When she’s not at the hospital, Fisher and her fiance, Nick Mocio, are remodeling their house in Hunt and preparing for their wedding in May.
Fisher offers advice for young students considering a nursing career: Put down the books every once in a while and have some fun. “You have the rest of your life to work, but there’s only a certain time in your life where you can grow and learn to be an adult before you actually have to be an adult,” she says. “I took time at A&M to go on study abroad trips, and I got involved in organizations. Those things teach you things that nursing school doesn’t. I’m very thankful that I got all that experience.”
Valerie Garcia, Ingram Tom Moore High School’s 2015 salutatorian, relocated to the Midwest. Garcia lives in Wisconsin with her partner, Evan Lope, a University of Wisconsin School of Law student. She works for Nexus Solutions, a facilities management company that specializes in building public schools in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Before relocating to the Badger State, Garcia graduated from The University of Texas at Austin, earning a Bachelor of Science and Arts in human development and family sciences, which examines how individuals grow intellectually, physically and emotionally.
Her grandmother’s experience with mental deterioration partially inspired Garcia’s choice of major. “It really pushed me to want to understand more,” Garcia says. “I hope that further down the line I might be able to go back to school to further my education to become something like a psychologist.”
Through a combination of scholarships, including one from HCTC, multiple part-time jobs and careful scheduling, Garcia completed her degree without any student loans.
“I managed to graduate college debt-free, which is probably my biggest accomplishment,” she says. “The scholarship from HCTC helped tremendously, and I also got a lot of other local scholarships. I worked four jobs during the summer just to earn enough money in order to pay off my following semester of school. In order to save money, I graduated in 3 1/2 years, rather than the traditional four.”
Miles Michel, a 2015 Ingram Tom Moore High School alumnus, lives in Uvalde and spends his workdays out in the fields. Michel has a lifelong appreciation for agriculture, which he traces back to his family raising cattle and goats in Mountain Home and his years in 4-H and Future Farmers of America.
Michel spent three semesters studying at Blinn College using his HCTC scholarship to help with tuition. He then transferred to Texas A&M, graduating last May with a degree in development and leadership of agriculture.
Today, he works as an agronomist for Gowan Seed, specializing in plant development. “I take the experimental varieties of plants and plant them in the farmer’s field. I document their growth — how many plants come up in each planting, how fast those plants grow and how fast they put on fruit,” Michel says. “I also document the weather patterns during their growing season.”
The volatile Texas weather provides a perfect real-world proving ground — if a plant can thrive in Texas, odds are it’ll do well anywhere. “Texas weather is day by day,” Michel says. “It tests the endurance and the durability of the plants.”
Michel’s truck serves as his mobile office these days. He spends roughly four hours a day behind the wheel driving from one farm to another. “Right now, I’m really familiarizing myself with the area, and I’m meeting all the farmers and getting to know them,” he says. “Gowan is offering me a lot of room to move up. So, I’m hoping to move my way into sales. I think that agriculture is an up-and-coming industry, and investment opportunities continue to grow. It’s going to be a good place to be in the near future.”