Student Success Profile – Pedro Flores

(HARLINGEN) – Pedro Flores is a Dental Assistant student at Texas State Technical College. The Hidalgo native expects to receive his certificate in Spring 2018.

The 24-year-old is also active on campus and his community as a member of the TSTC Leadership Academy and as the Secretary and Treasurer for the Dental Explorers Club.Pedro Flores

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate from the Dental Assistant program, I hope to return to TSTC for Dental Hygiene and start working as a dental assistant to gain experience in the field.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become a dental hygienist and promote good oral health care.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment while at TSTC has been keeping up with the demands of my program while staying active with my clubs and doing community service.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

I used to work as a correction officer in a prison and that helped me see life from a different perspective. I have learned to live and enjoy life day-by-day because it’s too short, to be grateful for what I have and to be vigilant in everything I do.

Who at TSTC has had the greatest influence on your success?

My Dental Assistant Instructor Jill Brunson has had the greatest influence on my success. Her class  is challenging and she has high expectations for all of her students. This helps me, personally, work even harder and do better so I can make her proud.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to take advantage of all of the training TSTC has to offer. TSTC truly makes you feel like you are a part of something big and they want you to succeed.

TSTC Hosts Annual Counselor Update

(HARLINGEN) – Rosa Vasquez, a counselor at San Benito High School walked the halls of Texas State Technical College for a tour of the campus and its programs on Thursday morning during the college’s annual Counselor Update.

She joined more than 100 other counselors from across the Rio Grande Valley at TSTC’s Cultural Arts Center for a half-day program that focuses on the technologies and services TSTC offers.

“The tours were great, so interesting,” said Vasquez. “I like that TSTC is so student-oriented and interested in their success.”

Director of Recruitment Dora Colvin said the Counselor Update is hosted as a thank you to the counselors for everything they do for their students and the college.

“These counselors collaborate with us yearly in helping students with everything that comes with applying for college,” said Colvin. “They do a lot and we appreciate them.”

Thursday morning’s tour consisted of visits with instructors and students from programs such as Precision Manufacturing Technology, Agricultural Technology, Building Construction Technology, Biomedical Equipment Technology, Health Information Technology and Aircraft Airframe Technology.TSTC Counselor Update Campus Tour

In addition to the tour, TSTC’s Enrollment, Admission and Financial Aid representatives were on hand to give counselors updates on application and deadline changes.

Other activities included a student learning overview, a lunch catered by TSTC’s Culinary Arts students and alumni success stories.

Counselors also heard from three TSTC alumni including Kimberly Deleon, TSTC Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics graduate and teaching lab assistant.

First-generation college graduate Deleon shared that she graduated with her associate degree in 2012 and got a job in her field in Waco, before returning home and accepting a job offer at TSTC.

Deleon also let the counselors know that figuring out her passion and deciding what she wanted to do for the rest of her life did not come easy, but because of TSTC she found her future. And because of her positive experience, the college has become a family affair with all four of her sisters attending/graduating from TSTC.

“I’m so grateful to TSTC for all that they have contributed in my life,” Deleon explained. “The teachers, the staff and the various departments made it possible for me to not only discover my dream, but to execute it and succeed.”

San Benito High School Counselor Lora Jallomo-Garza said she found the alumni to be inspiring and will share their stories with her students.

“I really enjoyed the student success stories,” said Garza. “TSTC not only helps educate students, but it also helps them find success.”

Overall, Vasquez and Garza said the day was productive and informational. They would like to thank TSTC for the warm welcome and they look forward to continue their work with TSTC.

For more information on TSTC, or to apply and register, visit

TSTC Will Host First RGV Texas Writers Exhibit

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College will host, for the first time in South Texas, the Texas Writers Exhibit thanks to a $1,000 grant they recently received from Humanities Texas.

The exhibition produced by Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, will be set up as part of the college’s third annual Humanities Symposium at TSTC’s J. Gilbert Leal Learning Resource Center from October 23 – November 17 and is open to the public.

This is the first time TSTC’s campus in Harlingen has received this grant.

Visitors will get to see, in a series of panels, portraits of authors, books, workplaces, narrative settings and quotes that all evoke a strong image, memory or feeling.

Kirk added that the goal of the exhibition is to generate in visitors a new awareness and appreciation for Texas literature and the American and Mexican authors that have contributed to the humanities and arts.TSTC Writers Exhibit

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to partner with Humanities Texas and bring this exhibit to our TSTC students and the Rio Grande Valley,” said Kirk. “The exhibit helps us support and sustain the humanities and art efforts already in place.”

To coincide with the exhibit, local writers will be on campus to present their literary work and engage with students and the community.

University of Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Professor of Communications Dr. William Strong will kick off the opening reception on October 23 for the Texas Writers Exhibit with a presentation on the contributions of Texas writers and how these stories inspired his Stories from Texas series.

Throughout the week TSTC will also welcome UTRGV Professor Emeritus in History Dr. Manuel Medrano with the Life and Writings of Americo Paredes on October 24, and Professor in Creative Writing Dr. Elvia Aldalani, with Christianity and Islam in Poetry: An Intersection of Cultures on October 26.

There will also be two local writer panel presentations on October 23 and 24 where writers will read samples of their works and discuss influences on the development of their stories.

“As an educational institution it is important that we provide opportunities for local writers to share their work and experiences with our students and community,” said Kirk. “And we’re grateful to have received great support from the TSTC grants office, administration and faculty for this event.”

Kirk said he encourages everyone to come out and enjoy what the Texas Writers Exhibit has to offer and to familiarize themselves with the cross-cultural literature that has shaped the areas of humanities and arts in Texas.

For more information or for a schedule of events call TSTC at 956-364-4758.

TSTC in Waco Q&A with Alex Cardona of Round Rock

(WACO) – Alex Cardona, 23, of Round Rock is working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology at Texas State Technical College in Waco. He is also vice president of the technical college’s SkillsUSA chapter.

Cardona is a 2012 graduate of Round Rock High School.

How did you become interested in Automotive Technology? “I have always been interested in vehicles and I like to work on the classics. My grandfather and stepfather were both mechanics.”

How did you learn about TSTC? “A family friend of mine went to TSTC for Auto Collision and Management Technology and I looked into the technical college online. I applied and then came to visit. I really liked it. TSTC is a good fit. I’m here and I’m doing really well.”

What is a day like in the Automotive Technology garages? “It’s a lot of fun. It’s a learning experience. We do things here that we can’t do at other schools. We also work on real-life vehicle problems. There is a lot you need to know and I like challenges.”

Are Fridays special in your technical program? “Every Friday during the semesters we get to diagnose vehicles with actual problems. We do that for TSTC students, faculty and staff. It’s free labor and all you have to do is pay for the parts. We do a great deal of customer service work and explain what is wrong with their vehicle. It teaches the students how to talk to a customer. It teaches responsibility.”

What do you like to do when you are not in class or studying? “I like to go to car shows and hang out with my friends. I love to go swimming at Blue Hole in Georgetown and also jump off the big cliff there.”

What advice would you give to high school students thinking about college and their careers? “I would tell them to give a technical college a shot.”

What are your plans after graduation in 2018? “I am thinking about working for a dealership or the Texas Department of Transportation. At TxDOT, it’s maintaining the fleet they have, from off-road to state vehicles.”

Automotive service technicians and mechanics are expected to grow to about 779,000 workers nationwide by 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There were more than 47,000 automotive service technicians and mechanics working in Texas for an annual mean wage of $41,760 in May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Waco, there were more than 530 workers with an annual mean wage of $37,340. In the Austin – Round Rock area, there were 3,580 employees with an annual mean wage of $46,440.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


Student Profile – Sharon Barlow

(HARLINGEN) – Sharon BarlowSharon Barlow is an Education and Training student at Texas State Technical College and expects to graduate Spring 2018 with her associate degree.

The San Benito native currently boasts a 3.5 grade-point average and is an active member and treasurer of the TSTC Association of Future Educators (TAFE).

The 19-year-old first attended TSTC in high school as a dual enrollment student and said the experience got her one-step ahead in her college career allowing her to earn the majority of her college credits in high school.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate with my associate degree I plan on continuing my education to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to be an elementary teacher. When I was little I would force my little brother to play my student while I played teacher. I’ve always known this is what I wanted to do.

Eventually, I hope to continue my education to work toward becoming a counselor or principal.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment while at TSTC has been joining the TAFE Club and becoming treasurer. Being a member of this organization has opened door of opportunity for me such as reading to children at the Harlingen library or volunteering at Ben Milam Elementary School. Everything I am learning and doing is preparing me for my future.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is patience. Patience is key when working with children and this is an attribute that will get me far in my career.

Who at TSTC has had the most influence on your success?

My Education and Training Instructor Mary Hollmann has been my greatest influence. She is so full of energy that it motivates me to keep going and I love that her door is always open for her students. I can count on her help.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice to future TSTC students is to listen to your instructor, they truly want to see you succeed. And stay on top of your coursework and exams. The last thing you want to do is fall behind.

NASA Opens a Universe of Possibility for TSTC Student

(HARLINGEN) – It has been quite a journey for Texas State Technical College student Saul Pizano who was recently selected to be a part of the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars project (NCAS).

The Harlingen native was one of 304 college students from across the United States and the only one from TSTC to be part of the five-week scholars program that culminated with a week at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“The whole experience was mind blowing. Wow!” said Pizano. “I’m so happy that I got the opportunity to do something like this. It has changed the outlook on my future.”Saul Pizano NASA Project

The NCAS is a project funded in part by the Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP) which is committed to engaging underrepresented and underserved students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in authentic learning experiences to sustain a diverse workforce.

“NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, but it also opens doors for future careers at NASA,” said Joeletta Patrick, MUREP manager. “NCAS has a legacy of alumni moving from NASA internships to ultimately entering the NASA workforce. It is rewarding to see.”

Pizano’s experience with NCAS began with a month-long online NASA class where he had to complete research, modules, quizzes, a 10-page essay and design and print a three-dimensional space rover vehicle.

It was his perfect score of 100 percent in the web class and his impressive application that earned him a spot at NASA’s on-site event.

The 22-year-old is already a graduate from TSTC Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics program and is currently pursuing three more associate degrees in mathematics, engineering and physics.

“There is no doubt that everything I have learned and been trained to do at TSTC helped me throughout the NCAS process,” he said.

It was early mornings and late nights for Pizano and the other students participating in this year’s NASA event.

Students formed teams and established fictional companies interested in Mars exploration, developed and tested a prototype rover, managed budgets and created communications and marketing plans.

Saul Pizano and Jerry Woodfill

Pizano was team leader for the Green Engineering and Autonomous Robotics (G.E.A.R.) team, which ended up winning first place for its rover design and development.

“It was great meeting and working with like-minded people,” said Pizano. “The bonds created among us are remarkable. We all arrived as strangers and left as friends.”

NCAS participants also got to speak to NASA experts such as Apollo 11 and 13 NASA Spacecraft Warning System Engineer Jerry Woodfill, and tour the space center’s facilities.

“Before this experience I felt like NASA was out of reach for me,” said Pizano. “But now I’ve been there and I know I’ll be back. I can see my future there.”

Pizano’s NASA mentor has encouraged him to apply for a spring internship with NASA in aerospace mechanics.

“I’m that little boy who got his first telescope at six and now here I am with an opportunity of a lifetime,” he said. “NASA is changing the world every day and because of TSTC I have the opportunity to be a part of that.”

For more information on TSTC and the programs offered, visit

TSTC Receives TWC Grant for Construction-Related Courses

(HARLINGEN) – The Workforce Training and Continuing Education Office at Texas State Technical College recently received a $119, 988 Building Trade Grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

This grant will help train 40 trainees in TSTC’s National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Electrical Level 1 and Construction Level 1 courses.

“The partnership we have with the TWC is great,” said Myra Deleon, TSTC’s Continuing Education project manager. “Their donations help open doors of opportunity for many individuals and families. They help people grow.”

Deleon added that in light of some large construction projects forecast for the South Texas region, such as SpaceX and Texas LNG, this recent donation from TWC allows Workforce Training and Continuing Education to be proactive in assuring that the region has a trained workforce.TSTC Electrical, Construction Courses

“These are the credentials that most large contractors require for their employees,” said Deleon. “They are precursors to an individual looking for a career in the electrical and construction industries.”

NCCER Electrical Level 1 is a 224-hour electrical course that consists of NCCER Core, NCCER Electrical, safety and forklift components and a CPR, automated external defibrillator (AED) and first aid sessions.

Those who enroll in this course can expect to learn the foundation of safety, communication skills and construction drawings to the theory of residential electrical circuits and will become certified in first aid, CPR and AED use.

NCCER Construction Level 1 is a 262-hour course and focuses on the NCCER Core and NCCER Basic Framing, introduction to carpentry and a safety and forklift component. The course will also focus on basic safety, wood frame structures, layout, floors, wall and roofs.

In addition to the electrical wiring and construction training, students will also become forklift- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certified.

Both NCCER credentials are recognized internationally so can be used to work in the United States and abroad.

“Safety is everyone’s number one priority, so the more safety training an employee has the more marketable they are to employers,” said Deleon. “Trainings like these help minimize accidents and get people home to their families at the end of the day.”

The NCCER Electrical and Construction Level 1 courses are held in the evening and open to anyone in or pursuing a career in the industry.

Class tuition and books are generally covered by TWC grants or sponsored by the employer, Workforce Solutions grants and the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation.

The next NCCER session starts October 30 and is still open for enrollment.

For more information on the NCCER curse and tuition sponsors call TSTC Continuing Education at 956-364-4567.

Local Childhood Friends Mark Another Milestone at TSTC

(FORT BEND) – Since kindergarten, the relationship between three childhood friends has withstood the test of time, experiencing nearly every milestone together including college graduation.

Texas State Technical College Welding Technology graduates Israel Grimaldo, Jose Acosta and Carlos Nieto recently earned certificates in their field and celebrating yet another commencement together.

TSTC Graduates

“What are the odds that nearly 18 years later we’re still friends? They’re like my brothers,” said Nieto. “I’m so proud of us and how far we’ve come. We’re making something of ourselves.”

All three friends are Rosenberg natives and have graduated from Bowie Elementary School, B.F. Terry High School and TSTC together.

With nearly everything in common, it came as no surprise to their family and friends when they all chose to pursue welding.

Nieto, who graduated from TSTC with honors and a 3.5 grade-point average began his welding journey his freshmen year of high school.

In fact, all three friends were attracted to the field early on because of the hands-on work and the job opportunities available.

“I love building stuff and working with my hands,” said Nieto. “This is the perfect career for me.”

Acosta, who has two uncles who work in the field, added, “The idea that I can receive an affordable education, get a certificate and get a good job right off the bat is attractive.”

High School Graduation

Nieto said he already bought a welding machine and is doing freelance jobs in repair and maintenance and some construction projects.


In fact, in addition to the hands-on learning they receive at TSTC, all three men have already worked in the field performing odd jobs here and there to help pay for school.

They agree they are fully prepared to tackle the industry, but for one the job hunt came sooner rather than later.

The original plan was for all three men to return to TSTC in the fall to pursue an associate degree and have one more graduation together, but Acosta decided on a different path.

“TSTC was a great choice for me, I think for all of us,” said Acosta. “I’m more than ready to start my career, I don’t want to delay it anymore, and because of the training I received I am fully prepared and confident to do so.”Kindergarten Graduation

Acosta is working for a Houston-based pipe making company as a pipe maker and hopes to someday pursue his associate degree, but said he is happy with his decision to work for now.

As for Nieto and Grimaldo, Hurricane Harvey set back the first day of school by nearly one month, but they are back and ready to graduate together with an associate degree in May one last time.

“Luckily all of our families were okay. We had to evacuate, but we were all blessed that we had our homes to come back to,” said Nieto. “And we’re ready to get back into the swing of things and finish.”

For more information on TSTC Welding Technology visit

TSTC in Waco Student Q&A with Bryan Ray of Temple

(WACO) – Bryan Ray, 35, of Temple is a Cyber Security major at Texas State Technical College.

Ray, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, is a TSTC student ambassador and is scheduled to graduate in 2019.

The Bryan – College Station native grew up playing baseball and showing animals in 4-H. He is a 2000 graduate of Still Creek Christian Academy in Bryan.

When Ray is not studying or in classes, he spends as much time as possible with his wife and two children or at the gym or closest golf course.

What made you decide to join the U.S. Marine Corps? “I was in for 10 years. I enlisted right after 9/11 when I was attending Texas A&M University and majoring in kinesiology. I wanted to serve and do my part. I did one tour in Iraq. I did my training in San Diego and spent the rest of my time in the military police as a criminal investigator.”

Why did you choose Cyber Security to major in? “I didn’t want to do police work anymore. I worked in retail with my dad and I decided to check TSTC out. I saw Cyber Security and did some research in the field and came and talked to the staff.”

How did you adapt to attending college again? “It was a small adjustment being in the classroom, doing homework and commuting. But I’ve learned so much from when I first started.”

What do you do as a TSTC student ambassador? “I do tours and work in the Welcome Center at the Student Services Center. I answer questions for visitors and help anybody with what they need. I work about 12 to 15 hours a week. Having the GI Bill with the financial aid, I can bridge the gap with extra work.”

What are your plans after graduation? “I would like to work for the U.S. Department of Defense or National Security Agency or somewhere else in the government. I like how the government is regimented.”

One of the fields that Cyber Security graduates can go into is information security analysis. Texas had more than 7,500 jobs as of May 2016, according to the most recent information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Dallas – Plano – Irving area had the most jobs in Texas with 3,300. The field is expected to grow 18 percent nationally through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

People with Cyber Security degrees can also pursue jobs as computer support specialists, web developers and database administrators.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC EMS Program Receives National Accreditation

(HARLINGEN) – It has been four years in the making, but the Continuing Education Emergency Medical Service – Paramedic program at Texas State Technical College has been nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) – becoming the only accredited EMS program in Cameron County.

TSTC EMS Program Director and Advanced Coordinator Salvador Acevedo said that with national and state demand at its highest for paramedics, this national recognition gives them a greater opportunity for meeting industry need.

“I’m beyond excited. I’m so proud of the work everyone has done to achieve this recognition,” said Acevedo. “This was a lengthy four-year process and it has been validated.”

In addition to extensive paperwork, the program went through a peer review from CAAHEP’s board of directors and the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions.

With the accreditation in hand, set to take effect January 2018, Acevedo and his team can now offer an associate degree paramedic program, which will mirror the already accredited EMS program offered at TSTC’s Abilene campus.

“We’ve worked closely with the folks in Abilene for guidance with the accreditation process and the curriculum,” said Acevedo. “It’s been a great partnership between programs and now we can offer even more to our students.”TSTC EMS Program

The plan is to combine the EMS program’s emergency medical technician (EMT) and paramedic certificate courses to one EMT-to-paramedic pathway.

The program will be two years long and students will receive training in the EMT basic, intermediate and paramedic fields. Students must successfully complete all coursework, clinical site training and an ambulance practicum to receive credit for the associate degree.

The pathway will also prepare students to take and pass the required National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam, which will allow them to work anywhere in the United States.

“Students who enroll in this program can rest assured that they will be receiving the training they need from a national curriculum to have a successful career,” said Acevedo.

Acevedo added that every instructor, including himself, are seasoned paramedics who still work in the field, either full-time or part-time, ensuring that students in the program will always receive the most up-to-date information on medical protocols, additional certifications and skills used in industry.

TSTC paramedic student Morgan Putbrese earned her EMT certificate in July 2016 and is working toward her paramedic certificate, but said this new accreditation will take her education to the next level.

“With the program now being accredited I have the opportunity to earn my associate degree,” she said. “This is an exciting time for current and future students. This will help people in our field grow and continue their education.”

Once Putbrese completes the additional courses she needs for her associate degree she plans to work locally and give back to her community in the form of health care.

According to Acevedo, TSTC’s EMS program holds a 100 percent job placement rate. Students are either placed locally with companies such as South Texas Emergency Care Foundation (STEC), Med-Care EMS or Willacy County EMS, or elsewhere in the state with centers such as Austin-Travis County EMS.

“We’ve jumped the biggest hurdle and achieved accreditation,” said Acevedo. “The future of our program is bright and we’re looking forward to growing and offering more opportunities to our students.”

For more information on TSTC’s EMS program visit or call 956-364-4739.