TSTC Welding Program Meets Industry Need

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – The welding program at Texas State Technical College is training and educating highly skilled welders quickly to continue to meet industry demand. 

Texas has the highest employment level for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And demand is expected to keep growing.

“The students come in and earn a Certification Level 1 – Structural Welding in three semesters and are trained in various welds like MIG, TIG, flux-core, stick, oxy-fuel, brazing and more,” Taylor Elston, welding instructor at the Sweetwater campus, said.

As students near graduation, Elston spends time with each one figuring out their career plans and caters to their education with that in mind.

“About the third semester, we’ll start asking the students which type of welding they enjoy most and where they want to live and what kind of job they want. Because in welding there are so many specializations, they can have a choice of where they end up,” Elston said. “So, once we learn what they really want to do, we’ll help them start preparing for that weld test so they can get the job they want.”  

One of the biggest appeals to the welding program for student Kelton Grigsby was TSTC’s proximity to industry and dedication to job placement.

“I want to work in Lubbock, and TSTC is close to those industry leaders. There is a big need for welders. I have family in welding, so I know how lucrative welding can be,” Grigsby said. 

Grigsby began welding in high school. After graduating from Godley High School in 2018, he decided to attend TSTC. 

Clint Faulkner also chose the welding program for career growth opportunities.

“My dad and I have been building metal buildings, carports and other structures for the past four years, and it was important that I get a refresher on my welding and get the technical skills here,” Faulkner said. 

After a nine-year career in truck driving, Faulkner, a Big Spring native, decided he needed a career that was more physically active. 

Grigsby and Faulkner are expected to earn their certificates and graduate in August.

TSTC students spend a majority of their time in the lab with hands-on practice to ensure the technical skills, but Elston says the college is also dedicated to ensuring that students are job-ready.

“With the TSTC Career Services team helping us, we really make sure the students have not only the quality education, but also the soft skills like resumes and job etiquette,”  Elston said. “We make them treat school like their job; they have to show up and show up on time. So when they graduate they won’t just be good welders, but also good employees.” 

Elston encourages anyone interested in the program to come to the campus and schedule a tour.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information about TSTC, go online at tstc.edu.

Texas State Technical College students at the Sweetwater campus practice their welding skills to prepare for high demand careers.

TSTC Alumna Finds Dream Career at Local News Station

(ABILENE, Texas) –  If you asked Prissa Delostrico three years ago if she thought she would be working at a television news station today, she never would have considered it an option. Now, she doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

Delostrico is a Texas State Technical College Computer Networking and Systems Administration alumna. She graduated in December 2017 and now works as an information technology engineer for KTXS-TV News. 

“I never imagined I would be working for a news station when I started my degree at TSTC, and I was nervous at first. But, I’ve been at KTXS just over a year, and I love it because it’s exciting and really fulfilling,” Delostrico said. 

Delostrico was always interested in computers and recognized the importance technology plays in everyday life. 

“Technology is the future, and I knew I could find a job in that field if I could get a degree in it,” she said. “Any business or organization that uses technology needs IT, and at KTXS I maintain the broadcast equipment, service our machines, care for our computers, laptops — anything I can do to help.” 

As important as it was for Delostrico to get a degree in a lucrative career field, it was also important to find a college that was flexible with her schedule and could accommodate her needs.

“I was a stay-at-home mom, so I needed help with child care. TSTC helped me figure that out, as well as offering counseling services for me when I went through some hard times,” Delostrico said. 

One person who truly stood out to Delostrico was her instructor Renee Blackshear. 

“It was awesome to have a female instructor because it is a male-dominated industry, but she was a great mentor and role model,” Delostrico said. 

For Blackshear, Delostrico was a model student.

“Prissa Delostrico is a wonderful woman and a student any instructor would be honored to work with. She is insightful, works hard, accepting of any challenge, and determined to overcome any obstacles that may come her way,” Blackshear said. “I look forward to many things to come for her.”

One of Delostrico’s greatest motivators to succeed was her goal to be a role model for her daughter. 

“I wanted to show my daughter that she can do anything she puts her mind to. It doesn’t matter if she chooses a career that is male-dominated or not — she can do it,” Delostrico said. 

As a nontraditional student, Delostrico knows how difficult it can be to take the step to go back to school, but she encourages everyone to give it a chance.

“Go on campus at TSTC and talk with the instructors, counselors and career people because you’ll be surprised by how much they want to help you and see you succeed,” she said.

Delostrico, an Abilene native, graduated from Cooper High School in 2005. 

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information about TSTC and the many programs offered, go online at tstc.edu.

Prissa Delostrico is a Texas State Technical College Computer Programming and Systems Administration alumna working as an IT Engineer for KTXS Television News.

TSTC Students to Pursue New Program

(BRECKENRIDGE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College will offer Occupational Safety Compliance (OSC) Technology at its Breckenridge campus starting this fall, and two current TSTC students can hardly wait to take advantage of it. 

 Ivan Chavez and Brittoni Thornhill are both students in the Environmental Technology program and are expected to graduate in spring 2020 with their Associate of Applied Science degrees. When they found out that TSTC will offer the OSC program in Breckenridge, they chose to stay an extra semester to earn the second degree.

“It just fit really well with what we learned in the Environmental Technology program, but it goes even further and opens up even more job opportunities,” Chaves said. “I’m excited to learn CPR and go more into emergency-response safety.”

The Environmental Technology program has courses similar to what they will study in the new OSC program. This crossover allows the students to add on only one extra semester of college but graduate with two degrees. 

“I was always fascinated with science and knew I wanted to pursue something in that field. TSTC allowed me to explore the various job opportunities in the field and learn the skills that will make me competitive as I look for jobs or continue my education,” Thornhill said. 

The program will educate students about Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations within the workplace to keep employees from harm.

“The demand for workers with a safety degree is rising. Employers need safety personnel to manage the workplace so no one gets hurt,” TSTC Environmental Health and Safety instructor Teresa Purcell said. 

Purcell encourages anyone who wants to ensure safer work environments to apply.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, log on to tstc.edu.

Pictured left to right, Ivan Chavez and Brittoni Thornhill are students enrolled in the Occupational Safety Compliance program.

RGV migrant students attend TSTC MAARS summer program

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – This summer more than 50 high school students from Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties have participated in the Migrant Academic Achievement Residential Summer (MAARS) program at Texas State Technical College.

MAARS is designed to meet the needs of high school migrant and seasonal farmworkers in pursuing higher education and to provide community service opportunities.

The six-week program is for rising juniors and seniors, who are selected by their school counselors. It assists the students in recovering class credit or helps them accelerate their anticipated course load at their high school.

Students reside on campus during the summer and are placed into technical programs offered at TSTC such as Precision Machining Technology, Auto Collision and Management Technology, and Mechatronics, which allows them to explore postsecondary education as well as career possibilities.

Throughout the MAARS program, students also have the opportunity to hear from TSTC representatives from Recruitment, Housing, Student Life and Career Services, along with professionals in law enforcement, marketing and entrepreneurship. They also complete community service hours at the Ronald McDonald House, Harlingen Recycling Center or the RGV Food Bank.

Upon successful completion of MAARS, students receive two high school credits and a $1,200 stipend.


Ambulances lead to TSTC classroom for new EMS instructor

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – From ambulances and sirens to a classroom setting, Crystal Espinoza is Texas State Technical College’s newest Emergency Medical Services instructor.

Completing her sixth week on campus, the 32-year-old said this is a dream come true.

“Since stepping foot into my paramedic class, I knew I wanted to teach,” said the McAllen native. “Watching the way my instructors worked and how they helped us understand even the hardest of concepts was my inspiration.”

Espinoza earned an Emergency Medical Technology Associate of Applied Science degree from a McAllen college and has worked in the field for six years.

Before arriving at TSTC, she worked as an emergency medical technician with Hidalgo County EMS in Edinburg for three years, then as a paramedic with Med-Care EMS in McAllen.

She said many have asked her what motivated her to enter such a demanding health care field, and her answer is simple: compassion.TSTC EMS Instructor Crystal Espinoza

“I was in a major car accident several years back, and it was one of my scariest moments,” she said. “I was panicking, and the paramedic that took care of me was so calm and collected. He was patient, understanding and calmed me down. From then on I knew I wanted to be someone’s calm in their storm.”

Espinoza calls her accident a blessing in disguise because before that day she had no clear path in life, and it gave her purpose.

“At the end of the day, this career is about helping people. And for me, that’s rewarding,” said Espinoza.

Now, at TSTC, her opportunity to help others continues.

Espinoza said her goal is to incorporate everything she has learned and her experiences from the field into the classroom.

“I have been lucky to have worked with some of the most seasoned paramedics in the field,” she said. “These are the ones that have taught me a lot of what I know. And now I’m excited to pass that knowledge along to my students.”

She said her goal is to produce skilled students who are ready to hit the ground running when they enter the field.

“Our goal is to get them trained, certified and employed with compassion and passion for this line of work,” said Espinoza. “Not just anyone can do it. It takes a special person. On top of that, it takes a lifelong learner because every day is a new day of learning.”

The fact that there is always something new to learn and always room for improvement keeps Espinoza moving forward.

“I have found my dream job, but I’m not stopping here,” she said. “There’s room for growth and opportunity of advancement here at TSTC.”

Students who enroll in TSTC’s EMS program can earn either an associate degree or a certificate as an emergency medical services paramedic or a certificate as an advanced emergency medical technician, with the skills needed to treat and assess patients at the scene and en route to a hospital.

Information sessions are hosted every Tuesday at 2 p.m. for those interested in the program.

The deadline to register for fall 2019 is August 23. The first day of classes is August 26.

To attend a session or for more information, call 956-364-4741 or visit tstc.edu.

TSTC associate degree in nursing helps create healthy careers

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The state and national shortage of registered nurses is increasing, with 203,000 job openings projected nationally through 2026, according to onetonline.org. And the Dallas Observer recently reported that Texas will have the second-largest shortage in the country.

TSTC Registered NursingThe associate degree program in nursing at Texas State Technical College, with its 100 percent job placement rate, is helping to fill that gap for the Rio Grande Valley region and the state.

TSTC’s Director of Nursing Shirley Byrd said most of the program’s grads are hired before they even graduate, with an average starting salary of $35 an hour.

The program, which debuted in 2017, will see its second graduating class this August. Byrd said she is excited to see the program continue to grow, and she explained what a student can expect when they are accepted into the program.

What is the length of the program?

The associate degree in nursing at TSTC is a three-semester or one-year program. To apply for acceptance into the program, a person must already be a licensed vocational nurse (LVN).

What can a student expect when they graduate?

When a student successfully completes the program, they will receive an associate degree and be eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Exam to receive their license in nursing and be able to work.

What skills do you learn in the registered nursing program?

Students entering the program will already have learned the foundation of nursing as a vocational nursing student, so as a registered nursing student they will learn advanced critical care skills, such as critical care nursing, emergency room nursing, and IV therapy. These skills and more will allow them to become skilled and professional nurses who will find success in the field.

What types of technology are used to teach these skills?

We use advanced technologies such as resource books and assessment software, Health Education Systems Incorporated (HESI) test reviews and progression software, and simulated labs equipped with mannequins that can be programmed to mimic a real-world scenario that nursing students must respond to.

How do these skills prepare a student for the workforce?

By learning these skills in the classroom, nursing students can then apply them and be better equipped for their clinical and hospital rotations that progress from bedside care to advanced critical care. Student rotations are in areas such as medical, surgical, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, and emergency rooms.

What kinds of positions can a graduate from this program obtain, and where can they work?

The program’s two largest placement partners are Valley Baptist Medical Center and Harlingen Medical Center, but students have also been placed in local doctor clinics, home health companies, nursing homes, day surgery clinics, and schools.

Red Oak ISD Tours TSTC Campus in Waco

(RED OAK, Texas) – Representatives of the Red Oak Independent School District traveled to Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus on Thursday to see its technical programs firsthand and talk about future collaboration with TSTC. 

Marcus Balch, TSTC’s provost at the North Texas campus in Red Oak, led the school district’s delegation. He said the visit was a way for staff from the school district and TSTC to learn more about each other’s missions. TSTC’s North Texas campus is located next to Red Oak High School and shares its parking lot.

“I think it went really well,” Balch said. “I hope we can find more ways to connect and be more strategic.”

Some of the technical programs the group visited include Aviation Maintenance, Culinary Arts, Electrical Lineworker Technology, Instrumentation and Welding Technology.

“I like the amount of different programs that are available and the first-rate equipment the students have to work with,” said Red Oak High School Principal Miller Beaird.

Beaird said he enjoyed seeing TSTC’s commitment to showing students’ ways to be successful and employable in the workplace. He said some of what he heard could benefit future graduates of Red Oak High School, citing that up to 40 percent of the school’s graduates do not immediately find employment or enroll in college after they graduate. 

“TSTC could help decrease that number,” Beaird said.

Lisa Menton, the Red Oak school district’s career and technical education director, said about 100 Red Oak High School students will be taking dual enrollment classes starting this fall at TSTC. She said this is a number that can grow as students and faculty learn more about TSTC’s offerings at other campuses.

Menton said some of the technical programs she liked were Building Construction Technology and Electrical Power and Controls.

“I gained a lot of good knowledge I can pass on to the teachers,” she said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

TSTC Students Learn How to Find Air Leaks in Homes

(WACO, Texas) – Some Texas State Technical College students are learning how consumers can save money for their residences by making them more energy-efficient. 

Students in the Residential Building Performance Consulting class used a vacant home on campus on Monday to perform a series of tests to find out where outside air leaked in, and vice versa. 

“I want students to learn the actual mechanics of how to set up and perform the tests and how to correct the seals we have,” said Hugh Whitted, an instructor in TSTC’s Energy Efficiency Specialist and Solar Energy Technology programs.

Before testing started, students found every interior opening they could to seal with plastic. Whitted led students through the first test by using a blower to measure how airtight the house was.

“It depressurizes the house so air comes through the cracks and you can seal them,” he said.

Students used a variety of tools, including smoke pencils and thermal cameras, to conduct the tests.

“It’s a good eye-opener to the kind of equipment we will use in the field,” said Christian Bolyard, a TSTC student from Bridge City.

Whitted said students found problems with air leaking through electrical outlets.

Johnathan Rhodes, a TSTC student from Plano, said air leaks can be challenging in older homes.

“Older houses can be terribly constructed because this (the energy code industry) is relatively new,” he said. “It’s important to pay attention to detail and construction.”

Students also performed a duct-blaster test and did a carbon monoxide reading on the home.

“I’m learning some of these buildings are air-challenged and that we may come across things that are not in new buildings that we have to work with,” Bolyard said.

Homes that are insulated well can receive good scores on the Home Energy Score Report from the U.S. Department of Energy. On a scale of 1-10, scores on the higher end mean there is lower energy usage and cost.

TSTC’s Energy Efficiency Specialist certificate is a two-semester program in Waco preparing students for jobs in energy auditing and green marketing. Whitted teaches students to use the International Code Council’s International Energy Conservation Code, which is designed to meet the need for efficient mechanical, lighting and power systems through model code regulations that result in optimal utilization of fossil fuel and nondepletable resources. 

TSTC’s Energy Efficiency Specialist certificate is part of a “triple crown” combination, which includes the Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology and the Certificate I in Electrical Construction.

Bolyard and Rhodes are both taking the combined certificate and degree programs.

“It’s been fantastic,” Rhodes said. “I love the hands-on learning, and the instructors tell us stories about what they have experienced in the field.”

Registration for the fall semester is underway. 

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

TSTC Hosts Future Fair For Residents

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College showed East Texas residents on Saturday why their future can be brighter with a technical education.

The first TSTC Future Fair in Marshall highlighted 11 technical programs on campus, many of which serve industries in need of qualified workers.

Visitors of all ages did hands-on demonstrations, such as the virtual welder, toured labs and ate at food trucks parked next to the South Building on campus.

“We have had visitors as young as middle school,” said Patty Lopez, TSTC’s regional director for dual enrollment. “In eighth grade, students have to choose a career path. Hopefully this can lead to dual enrollment classes and then coming here.”

Michael Calhoun, a senior at Harleton High School, made his first visit to TSTC.

“My guidance counselor told me to look into this college because I am interested in information technology,” he said.

Calhoun said he looked forward to graduating from high school and starting college.

“It will be a lot of fun and a change,” he said. “I felt really welcomed today, especially by the people giving the campus tours.”

Alex Hernandez, a senior at Jacksonville High School, drove with a friend more than an hour to Marshall to attend the event. He said he enjoyed talking to faculty and staff members learning about TSTC.

Hernandez said he is interested in studying Process Operations, which combines electronics, engineering, instrumentation and troubleshooting for the chemical, gas, petroleum and other industries.

Industry was also represented at the event to show the more than 50 people who attended what career possibilities are in the region.

Joe Razza, a regional recruiter at Crown Lift Trucks in Arlington, said students going to college to prepare for the workforce can have an impact on their families.

“There are a lot of opportunities in the trade industry and that ties into the mission of TSTC,” said Razza. “You need to get your hands on it and experience it before you make a career of it.”

Fidelity Communications Co. in Marshall provided a $1,000 scholarship that was drawn early Saturday afternoon for a student planning to attend TSTC this fall.

TSTC worked with the Marshall Independent School District and the Marshall Economic Development Corp. to put on the event.

For more information about Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

TSTC, TWC, STEMCO Celebrate Skills Development Fund Grant

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Leaders from Texas State Technical College, the Texas Workforce Commission and Longview-based STEMCO gathered Thursday in Marshall to commemorate a $166,657 Skills Development Fund grant aimed at improving workers’ skills.

More than 100 STEMCO employees have taken over 900 hours of technical and nontechnical training in collaborative team building, decision-making, electrical safety, Excel, Google Suite and other topics. 

“TSTC makes a positive difference in the lives of our working citizens by helping them earn more in their careers through their increased knowledge and skills,” said Kelly Kinsley Overby, the Longview Economic Development Corporation’s business retention and expansion director. “Training grants from the TWC such as the Skills Development Fund help provide this needed training and foster economic growth and prosperity in East Texas.”

This was the first time the company utilized TSTC for workforce training. The work started last summer and ended in May.

“I think we have built very good relations with STEMCO,” said Dirk Hughes, TSTC’s executive director of workforce training in Marshall. “As soon as we get another grant, we need to continue doing this type of training.”

William Leadaman, STEMCO’s manager in Longview, said staff from the company’s human resources office and TSTC had discussions about specialized training for employees.

“Our company is really focused on the dual bottom line, so not only is it the growth and sustainability of the business, but also the growth of the colleagues and their technical base,” Leadaman said.

The Skills Development Fund has been used since 1996 to localize workforce training for Texas companies. This enables companies to work directly with local partners to develop training tailored to employers’ needs. The Skills Development Fund grant has assisted more than 4,200 employers statewide, according to the TWC.

“Our labor force continues to be among the most sought-after in the world, thanks to the state’s commitment to implement strategies to improve the skills of Texas workers,” said Julian Alvarez III, the TWC’s commissioner representing labor.

STEMCO supplies brake, suspension and wheel-end components for the commercial vehicle  industry.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.