TSTC alumna finds artistic outlet at area company

TSTC Drafting and Design alumna Mari Cruz Montoya now works for Cruz-Hogan Consultants, a civil engineering consulting firm. (Courtesy: Texas State Technical College/TSTC)

HARLINGEN — Mari Cruz Montoya was captivated by drawing, painting and sculpting at a young age.

Little did she know that her creativity would lead to a degree from Texas State Technical College’s Drafting and Design program and eventually to a job at Cruz-Hogan Consultants, a civil engineering consulting firm.

“In middle school, I was part of a GEAR UP program that is designed to increase college awareness,” she said. “Before my seventh-grade year began, my mother told me that same program was offering summer activities at TSTC such as a basic drafting class. I decided to try it out because it was similar to art.”

After high school, Montoya enrolled at TSTC’s Harlingen campus, where she earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology in 2015.

Two months after she graduated from TSTC, she accepted a full-time job as a graphic technician with the city of Edinburg’s Engineering Department. A year after that, a new job opportunity arose with the city’s Planning and Zoning Department.

“I was hired as a full-time geographic information systems technician where I addressed residential and commercial buildings in the city limits,” Montoya said. “I created aerial, sight and zoning maps … for monthly city council presentations.”

In 2022 she relocated to Weslaco to work as a computer-aided design drafter with Cruz-Hogan Consultants.

“At Cruz-Hogan Consultants, I have designed multiple aerial and study maps for the region,” she said. “I have also created major lift-station layouts and water and wastewater plans for various improvement projects.”

Marcus Cruz, project manager for Cruz-Hogan Consultants, said Montoya is a quick learner who is attentive to detail.

“Mari Cruz has great organizational skills that keep our projects moving despite a busy timeline,” he said.

Montoya credits her success to the training she received at TSTC.

“The Drafting and Design program felt like a family because we genuinely cared about each other,” she said. “My former instructors did a phenomenal job to ensure we understood the work.”

Samuel Pizano, a TSTC Drafting and Design instructor in Harlingen, said Montoya displayed great leadership, patience and understanding when she worked with fellow classmates.

“Mari Cruz demonstrated a high level of professionalism, worked well in team projects, and was a hard worker who met her project deadlines,” he said. “She proved to be a self-motivated individual who possessed a positive attitude during her time in our program.”

Montoya hopes to continue on a career path at Cruz-Hogan Consultants.

“I am enjoying the professionalism at my place of employment,” she said. “We help improve each other’s skills, and it’s a collaborative environment.”

Her future plans include helping her community by serving others.

“I believe people are given talents to make their community better,” she said. “I would like to contribute my passion for drafting to building homes or a shelter for people who need it.”

In Drafting and Design, TSTC offers Associate of Applied Science degrees in Architectural/Civil Drafting Technology, Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology and Engineering Graphics and Design Technology, as well as several certificates of completion and occupational skills achievement awards. For a complete list, visit tstc.edu/programs/draftingdesign.

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.