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STC Graduate’s Daily Strive to a Paramedic Degree

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Eager to help those in need, STC Graduate Sylvia Gonzalez has spent the last two years overcoming a language barrier while traveling back and forth from Mexico, all in pursuit of a career in health care. She is set to earn her Paramedic Associate of Applied Science degree this weekend. STC Image
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By Selene Rodriguez

Eager to help those in need, South Texas College graduate Sylvia Gonzalez has spent the last two years overcoming a language barrier while traveling back and forth from Mexico, all in pursuit of a career in health care. 

Despite the challenges, her unwavering determination and resilience have guided her, and on Saturday she will be earning her Paramedic Associate of Applied Science degree.

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“It’s surreal to think that I once listened to the sirens and watched ambulances rush by, and now I’m experiencing what it’s like to be on the inside, helping many,” she said. “It’s truly rewarding and fulfilling to be actively involved in making a difference.”

Born in Mission, but raised in Reynosa, Mexico, the 22-year-old always felt drawn to caring for others, even attending medical school in her hometown for two years before exploring opportunities in the United States.

“Eventually I realized it was too long of a time investment, so I decided to research career and job opportunities on the U.S. side,” she retold. “A cousin of mine recommended STC to me because it’s affordable and close enough that I can commute back and forth every day, it was the best choice all around.”

STC Image

Initially interested in nursing, she then discovered the extensive opportunities within the Emergency Medical Services program, a pathway that not only allows students to earn Emergency Medical Technology (EMT) credentials on the way to their associate degree, but also seamlessly transitions halfway into the Associate Degree in Nursing curriculum.

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“Ideally, the paramedic track takes about the same amount of time as applying directly to the nursing program, so I decided to give it a shot,” she recounted. “I’m so glad I did because I fell in love with it. I had prior medical experience, but I still felt intimidated by the hands-on activities and ride-outs. It turned out to be my favorite experience.”

In January 2022, she faced the challenge of refining her English skills, which she had been learning since childhood in school and needed for attending classes at the Nursing and Allied Health campus.

Within just one year, she accomplished the remarkable achievement of obtaining both her EMT Basic and Advanced certificates, credentials that allowed her to enter the workforce with Lone Star Ambulance last year.

“I love helping people, being there when they need us. When we arrive, you can see the relief on their faces because they know we’re there to help and we’re prepared to do so. It’s a big responsibility that I take to heart,” she said. “I’m grateful I had the opportunity to start gaining experience right away, but once I started the Paramedic program in August 2023, I was fortunate to focus solely on school. I’m very fortunate.”

Gonzalez is now eagerly anticipating a return to the workforce while embarking on the Associate Degree in Nursing program this fall, and is excited to continue expanding her skills.

“I want to keep going; I’m excited to pursue the nursing program because it’s what I’ve wanted to do all along, and now I can begin with more knowledge and skills than I ever thought possible,” she said. “I’m grateful to STC for giving me this opportunity and to my instructors. In this field, emergencies don’t always follow a textbook, but we have many instructors with tremendous real-world experience, who have been immensely beneficial.”

She also expressed gratitude for the seamless cultural and educational transition from her hometown, attributing it to STC’s welcoming and supportive atmosphere.

“I had no problem transitioning my past education from Mexico at STC, I was always helped and guided every step of the way,” she said. “I would advise future students to be prepared and take it seriously. Enter this field because you genuinely want to help. We assist anyone in need because we care, and you will receive thorough preparation to become an asset to the community.”

Gonzalez will be one of more than 3,000 students earning certificates, associate and bachelor’s degrees during STC’s Commencement Ceremonies on Friday and Saturday at the Bert Ogden Arena.  

For more information on STC’s Emergency Medical Service program, visit nah.southtexascollege.edu/ or call 956-872-3100.

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