(ROSENBERG, Texas) - Brian Bradley was once a Texas State University Bobcat, yet he never graduated. But now, at 29 years old, he can call himself a graduate of Texas State Technical College.
The Fulshear native graduated Thursday night as a Board of Regent honors graduate, with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and an associate degree in Cyber Security Technology.
He joined 38 other graduates of TSTC in Fort Bend County who earned either a certificate or an associate degree during the college’s commencement ceremony at the Stafford Centre.
“I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” said Bradley. “The fact that I’m graduating hasn’t sunk in yet, but knowing that I now have a trade, a skill, is an achievement to me.”
Bradley started his college career at Texas State University as a kinesiology major because he enjoyed playing sports and exercising, but he soon realized it wasn’t the best career choice for him.
Noticing the limited career opportunities that kinesiology would have given him and with a newborn baby, he turned to working.
“At this point, I no longer had a career passion or something that I could say I would be happy doing for the rest of my life,” he said. “So with a new family member came added responsibility, and it was time for me to support my family.”
Bradley worked in the restaurant and bar industries and as a sales representative up until he enrolled at TSTC in 2017.
“I spent too much time working jobs that I never really enjoyed, but I needed to make a decent living,” said Bradley. “Enough was enough. There were too many holidays missed with my family, long shifts and crazy hours. It was time to find a career.”
It was through a friend who built and repaired computers that Bradley first realized his passion for technology and computers.
“We’d get together, and he would show me his work. even helped in his computer build,” he said. “This is when I realized I could make computers and technology a career.”
He did not take the decision of going back to college lightly. It was going to be a large sacrifice and change for his family of five.
Upon enrolling at TSTC, the family sold their home and moved in with relatives, where they still reside.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive family. They have been on this journey with me since day one,” said Bradley. “But the way we saw it is you must give ground to gain ground. And this was really to give my family a better life.”
Bradley and his family made it through the long nights and financial constraints knowing it would all be worth it in the end.
And worth it it was. Halfway through Bradley’s program of study, he was offered an internship with Frontline Computer Services, whose owner was seeking a TSTC Cyber Security student.
“It all happened rather fast, but I owe this opportunity to my instructor, Alan Sulak,” he said. “Along with the real-world training I received at TSTC and the experience I have gained at Frontline, I feel like I’m prepared and ready to conquer the cyber security industry.”
At Frontline, Bradley has been able to work with small and medium businesses, providing network infrastructure monitoring, network security, hardware repair, and maintenance and technical support.
Frontline is also the place where Bradley will begin his career upon graduating. Ultimately Bradley hopes to work in penetration testing, which is hacking into networks to help companies repair vulnerabilities and protect identities.
“It feels great knowing the opportunities that lie ahead,” he said. “I now have a career, a passion, and I’m on the right path because of TSTC. And I want to tell anyone thinking of pursuing a two-year degree to just do it. Having a skill and trade improves employability and opens doors of opportunity.”
Bradley celebrated his achievement with his wife, children, his father, who is Rosenberg Police Department Sergeant Michael Bradley, and other family members.
More than 1,000 TSTC students will earn a certificate or degree statewide during Spring 2019, joining an alumni network of 100,000 strong.