WACO, TX — Big dreams are being accomplished by Iris De La Fuente, a student at Texas State Technical College of Waco.
She was born and raised in Mexico, and at age 18 she got married and moved to the United States to accomplish what she's always wanted.
Next April, De La Fuente will graduate from TSTC with a degree in Instrumentation Technology. She will not only be the first to earn a degree in her family but she is the first even go to college.
De La Fuente was always supported by her friends and family, and when she moved to the U.S. she started work at Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant in Glen Rose. That's where she found the passion to become a technician.
"Eighty percent of the technicians [said] they came to TSTC and they kept telling me, 'Hey you need to go to school,' and I thought I want to do that, I want to do what they do," De La Fuente said.
She even drives an hour each way to go to school at TSTC. De La Fuente only wants the best when it comes to her education.
"She's been a good example of any of the girls coming into this and she's been good, she's excelled, and like I said, she's been one of our exceptional students," said Heath Martin, instrumentation instructor at TSTC.
As one of the few women in her class, she is a role model to many that know her.
The technician career that she is striving towards is a much needed job in the U.S.
"Without those technicians these companies can't run," Martin said.
De La Fuente and her classmates will be the technicians that handle all the process control instrumentation throughout chemical, power and nuclear plants. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected more than 14,000 electro-mechanical technician jobs will be available by 2026.
The process of handling and understanding all the instrumentation comes naturally to De La Fuente. During her time at TSTC, she has been given all the tools needed to have experience as if she was actually in her field of work.
"This [TSTC] has been great," De La Fuente said. "The teachers are very helpful and we apply all we're learning."
She never felt like giving up when times got tough. De La Fuente said her instructors have been a big help to her success.
Dedication, commitment and passion are all qualities that help in a successful technician career, and De La Fuente is amazed at what she's accomplishing.
"If you put a lot of dedication and studying and effort, yes, yes you'll get to that point," De La Fuente said.