From teacher to student: Mexico professor finds new career at TSC

Gerardo Torres left a career and a home in Mexico to join his family in Brownsville. To start over and fulfill his newfound dream of owning a roofing business, he enrolled in TSC’s latest Commercial Roofing Pre-Apprentice program.
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Texas Border Business

BROWNSVILLE, TX – Gerardo Torres left everything he knew in Mexico for the chance to be closer to his children and grandchildren in Brownsville, Texas.

Although nearing retirement at age 60, the once professor at a Mexican university decided to become a student at Texas Southmost College himself.

“I’m still strong and have a lot to offer and give,” he said. “And by the grace of God and the support I get at TSC, I will soon be able to start a new career. I’m going to be a roofer.”

Far from the classroom style Torres is used to, he trained through TSC’s Commercial Roofing Pre-apprentice program with a full scholarship to install, repair and maintain roofs.

Torres is one of the few students to receive a full scholarship to the Commercial Roofing Pre-apprentice program, provided to those enrolled by the TSC Foundation in the most recent cohort.

“This kind of opportunity doesn’t exist in Mexico,” Torres said. “I am grateful to TSC for giving me, and all of us in this program, the opportunity to learn a new skill and work toward a new goal. This is not something TSC had to do, so I really appreciate it.”

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Since roofing is a brand new subject for Torres, he immersed himself in the hands-on training the program provides.

“The program was excellent,” he said as he completed a roofing project. “We learn on equipment that we will find in the field, we are learning processes that are popular in the industry and our instructors are experienced trainers. What more do we want?”

In addition to the hands-on training experienced by Torres and his colleagues, the program also offers a 100% job placement rate at Tecta America, Schwickert’s industry partner.

Schwickert’s Tecta America is the leading roofing contractor for homes and businesses in the Midwest with operations in Minnesota and Kansas.

The curriculum for the program was created and designed in conjunction with TSC and Schwickert’s Tecta America to meet the demand for highly skilled and trained roofers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for roofers is projected to grow by 2% by 2029 and will continue to grow as the need to replace workers who retire increases.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also lists Minnesota as one of the highest-paid roofing states.

Once hired at Schwickert’s Tecta America, TSC’s roofing graduates will earn an entry-level wage of $18-20 per hour, full benefits packages, stipends and relocation assistance.

“While I came to Brownsville to be closer to my family, I am considering making the switch to work at Schwickert’s,” said Torres. “I have to keep in mind what’s best for my family and this job allows me to better support and care for them.”

Torres’ ultimate goal is to return to Brownsville and open a roofing business to give back to the local economy, help his community and leave a legacy for his family.

Visit tsc.edu/wtce or call (956) 295-3724 to learn more about TSC’s Commercial Roofing Pre-apprentice Program or to enroll in the next class in April 2022.

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