Impactful Career: TSC alumnus, longtime respiratory care educator retires

After an almost three-decade illustrious career, Manhandran Rajasuriar has positively impacted countless lives in the Respiratory Care Science program.

As a Texas Southmost College (TSC) alumnus himself, the 68-year-old began his journey at the college as a respiratory student in the 1980’s at the age of 30 after arriving in the United States from Malaysia.

“My sister and brother-in-law were my sponsors so I could study here in the U.S.,” he said. “I originally came to become a nurse, but I realized it wasn’t for me and as a foreign student spending a lot of money, I needed to make a quick decision. A little voice inside told me that respiratory care was the career for me.”

That little voice was right. Rajasuriar went on to earn an associate degree in Respiratory Care Science from TSC in 1987, earning certification to become a registered respiratory therapist.

After being certified, he kicked off his career as a respiratory therapist at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Brownsville, where he ended up staying for more than two decades.

“It was normal for me to work two or more jobs as I started my career,” said Rajasuriar. “I worked from the Valley all the way up to San Antonio as a respiratory therapist, but never considered teaching as a career until a friend introduced me to the classroom.”

The longtime educator started his teaching career in 1995, teaching Port Isabel and Los Fresnos high school dual enrollment students and University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College (UTB/TSC) college students health profession courses on and off campus.

Finding the career of teaching rewarding, Rajasuriar earned a bachelor’s degree in Education with a specialization in science technology in 1996 and a master’s degree in counseling and guidance in 2000, making the transition from hospital to full-time teaching in 1998.

“Over the years I have had the privilege and honor of teaching bright and talented minds who eventually became my supervisors while I was still working at the hospital,” he said. “It truly has been a full circle experience for me. I have graduates working across the RGV and the state making me so proud.”

One of those students, now a graduate, is Troy Zepeda. Zepeda works at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen as a respiratory therapist and said Rajasuriar fueled his passion for this career.

“His teaching gave us all a sense of confidence,” said Zepeda. “He has a patience and a way of explaining processes that gives you the room to grow and truly learn. I’m a strong respiratory therapist because of him.”

Rajasuriar said every student was the best part of his career and will also be the part of his career he will miss the most.

“The most memorable thing for me as a teacher is seeing my students become successful and serve their communities,” he said. “They all represent TSC and our program well and I’m going to miss their faces in the classroom and in the hospitals for those that have continued to mentor our students.”

However, Rajasuriar said he is looking forward to traveling with his wife, seeing new places and spending more time with his family, with the plan on returning to TSC as a part-time respiratory instructor.

“I can’t stay away for too long,” he said.

To learn more about TSC’s Respiratory Care Science program, visit