TSTC’s newest campus sends first SkillsUSA competitor to nationals

(FORT BEND) – Texas State Technical College Diesel Equipment Technology student Troy Ketchum will be graduating in the coming months, but not before travelling to Louisville, Kentucky as the first student from TSTC in Fort Bend County to compete at the 54th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

“You can feel the excitement around campus building up about my travel to the upcoming event,” said the 30-year-old. “I hope I can make everyone proud.”

At the end of the month, the Rosenberg native will compete against thousands of other students from across the United States in hopes of bringing home a gold medal in his category: Job Skills Presentation.

SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help high school and college students pursue successful careers. Members build these skills through student-led team meetings, hands-on competitions, leadership conferences and other activities.

TSTC in Fort Bend County Provost Randy Wooten said that the entire college benefits from having students like Ketchum compete in these events.  Troy Ketchum

“The student body knows that they are being represented at these events and they are big supporters of Troy,” said Wooten. “All of us here are thrilled by having our first competitor at the SkillsUSA national level.”

Wooten also said that he has been involved in Ketchum’s dry-run presentations and practices since before the state competition and he knew immediately that he would be hard to beat.

“It’s obvious that Troy has what it takes to win. He’s a strong contender,” said Wooten. “And having our college represented in Kentucky means that even though we’re the newest and one of the smallest right now, we can run with the big dogs.”

The United States Navy veteran has been preparing his presentation, “The Importance of Proper Tread Depth and Safety of Truck Tires,” and his delivery non-stop for this competition.

Ketchum has taken two days out of the week since the beginning of the year to present in front of students, faculty and staff at the campus.

“I practice in front of anyone who is willing to listen,” said Ketchum. “And I welcome all feedback.”

Spencer Paige, lead instructor for Diesel Equipment Technology and SkillsUSA advisor, said Ketchum has told him that he even practices while driving, at work and at home in front his brother or a mirror.

“He has put in so much work and effort into SkillsUSA. We are proud him,” said Paige. “We are positive that he will do well and represent TSTC positively.

Paige added, “The fact that this is our campus’ first SkillsUSA chapter and we’re headed to nationals is remarkable and we hope that more students join us next year. This is a great organization that teaches lessons and skills that stay with you forever.”

Ketchum, who is also looking forward to graduating in August said that the skills he has learned in class and by competing in SkillsUSA have prepared him for a job in his field and for what he calls a leap from waiting tables full time.

“As soon as I return from SkillsUSA I’ll start on job applications. I feel so accomplished and excited entering this next phase in my life,” he said. “But first, I want to bring home the gold for TSTC and Fort Bend County.”

Ketchum and at least 50 other TSTC students statewide will be competing at the week-long event, June 25-29.

Ohio Company Offering Tuition Reimbursement to TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology Graduates

(WACO) – Crown Equipment Corp. is making it enticing for Texas State Technical College’s Diesel Equipment Technology majors to work for them.

The Ohio-based company specializing in forklift parts and production is offering tuition reimbursement for TSTC’s DET certificate and associate degree graduates from the Fort Bend County, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater and Waco campuses who are hired as technicians. The tuition plan started earlier this year.

“Every candidate (in the past) we have brought on board has been excellent,” said Joe Razza, a Crown regional recruiter for Louisiana and Texas based in Arlington.

The new hires will have five weeks of training, and after six months they will begin receiving extra money each pay period that can be put toward student loans, Razza said. The amount the company will reimburse is capped at $10,000.

“Getting tuition reimbursement from companies like Crown helps students get off to a solid start,” said Henry Macik, TSTC’s statewide chair for Diesel Equipment Technology. “Instead of worrying about paying off student loans, they can buy tools and invest in their future.”

Crown Equipment Corp. has four Crown Lift Trucks locations in Arlington, Houston, San Antonio and Waco. Razza said there is a push to hire more personnel at its locations in Texas and nationwide.

Kacey Darnell, TSTC’s executive director of Talent Management and Career Services, said students learn about the tuition reimbursement if they express interest in Crown. Razza also tells students about it when he visits TSTC campuses.

“Joe is an auto mechanic by trade and knows what it’s like to be a student,” Darnell said.

Razza said after several visits to TSTC’s campuses, he saw the value in the hands-on education that Diesel Equipment Technology students are receiving. He spoke to staff in Crown’s corporate office and the reimbursement plan was quickly approved.

“We have had a better success rate with TSTC because of the additional training students receive,” Razza said. “TSTC is also willing to train students with workshops in professionalism and soft skills.”

For more information on Crown Equipment Corp., go to crown.com.

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

TSTC in Brownwood to Host Registration Events This Summer

(BROWNWOOD) – Texas State Technical College will have two Registration Rally events this summer in Brownwood.

The events will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 26 and July 31 at the Enrollment Center/Learning Resource Center at 305 Booker St. in Brownwood. The events are part of an effort to make the registration process as easy as possible for incoming students planning to take classes in the fall semester.

“We make it fun,” said Devin Crenshaw, a TSTC college outreach representative. “They can come and do every single thing in one day. It’s easier for people that don’t want to deal with the lengthy process and do a lot of back and forth. They can just come and get it done and not wait until the first class day.”

Visitors can take campus tours and learn about the seven technical programs offered at TSTC in Brownwood, including Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology, Emergency Medical Services and Welding Technology.

People interested in enrolling should bring a copy of their driver’s license, high school transcript or GED, any college transcripts, proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination and TSI scores.

TSTC is having registration events at its 10 campuses throughout the state this summer. For information on the closest Registration Rally, log on to tstc.edu/rally.

For more information, contact TSTC in Brownwood at 325-643-5987 or visit tstc.edu.

TSTC in Marshall Welcomes New Recruiter

(MARSHALL) – For one Longview native who enjoys getting to know people, a satisfying job was not far from home.

Clayton Brooks now brings his people skills and enthusiasm to Texas State Technical College in Marshall, where he joined the recruitment team on June 1.

He is excited to be at TSTC, and he hit the ground running on his first day with a large tour group.

“The tours were really good for me. I was learning as the students were learning,” he said. “I feel like having that tour on the first day helped me get a jump-start in the role.”

So far he is enjoying getting to connect with students.

“I love getting to meet the students and sharing information with them and sharing my background, getting personal with them,” Brooks said. “I like helping them find something that they want to do in their life.”

Brooks attended Hallsville High School in Longview and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Louisiana Tech University in 2017.

He enjoys the different perspective TSTC offers potential students.

“Everybody has this one viewpoint where you have to go to the four-year school,” Brooks said. “We’re offering something completely different. And because of that, TSTC can help so many more students.”

Coordinator of student recruitment Patty Lopez said she is happy to have filled her team.

“We’ve expanded our student recruitment team, and we are thrilled at the addition of Clayton to our TSTC family,” she said. “Growing our team has been one of the greatest things to happen this year, and I am excited for the upcoming fall recruiting season.”

TSTC prides itself on being “a great place to work” and is currently hiring for positions at its 10 campuses statewide. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit tstc.edu/about/employment.

TSTC Chemical Dependency Counseling Student Teaches Inmates Life Skills

(BROWNWOOD) – Offenders in the Texas prison system sometimes are the forgotten ones who need a guide to find a path toward personal fulfillment.

But people like Norma Vandenberg, a Chemical Dependency Counseling major at Texas State Technical College in Brownwood, are there to teach the life skills they need.

“We do not tell people how to live,” she said. “We help them find better coping skills and how to make better choices.”

Vandenberg, a resident of Dublin in Erath County, is doing a summer practicum in substance abuse and addiction counseling at the Thomas R. Havins Unit in Brownwood. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice pre-release facility holds more than 575 male inmates.

“I teach classes that help the addict understand addiction, anger management, and understanding mental illness and how it mimics addiction,” Vandenberg said. “I also do individual counseling and group counseling and assessments as new clients come in.”

Elizabeth Jones, an instructor in TSTC’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program, said people working in treatment at the Havins Unit are chosen by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. She said a majority of the facility’s counselors are TSTC graduates.

“Norma has the discipline and dedication because of her past career as a nurse,” Jones said. “She is following the guidelines that I tried to establish concerning ethics, professionalism and establishing good boundaries with clients.”

Vandenberg is scheduled to graduate in August with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Chemical Dependency Counseling from TSTC. Program majors learn about criminology, individual and group counseling skills, and substance-related and addictive disorders.

“I enjoyed school and learning new things and new challenges,” she said.

Vandenberg grew up in Worthington, Minnesota, and is a graduate of Worthington High School She studied nursing at Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

“I worked with women recovering from addiction and enjoyed the work,” she said. “I enjoy helping people. I am burned out with nursing, and CDC is still in the medical field.”

After graduation from TSTC, Vandenberg will work full-time at the Havins Unit as a certified criminal justice addiction professional.

Jones said program graduates also go on to work in Austin, Belton, Dallas, San Angelo and San Antonio. She said the Chemical Dependency Counseling program has been used by graduates to work on bachelor’s degrees in nursing, psychology and social work.

“We receive compliments on our students from the program director (at the Havins Unit), and I have received phone calls asking me when I would be graduating students because the Havins Unit was short-staffed on counselors,” said Jones. “Our program lays the foundation for understanding the disease of addiction, and this understanding can be beneficial to all career paths associated with allied health.”

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

TSTC in Breckenridge to Host Registration Events This Summer

(BRECKENRIDGE) – Texas State Technical College will have two Registration Rally events this summer in Breckenridge.

The events will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 19 and July 24 in Room 103 in the Breckenridge Center at 307 N. Breckenridge Ave. The events are part of an effort to make the registration process as easy as possible for incoming students planning to take classes in the fall semester.

“This is the best time for everyone to come and get everything done to get registered or check on what they are still needing,” said Cassandra Love, an enrollment specialist at TSTC in Breckenridge.

Visitors can take campus tours and learn about the four technical programs offered at TSTC in Breckenridge: Chemical Dependency Counseling, Environmental Technology, Vocational Nursing and Welding Technology.

People interested in enrolling should bring a copy of their driver’s license, high school transcript or GED, any college transcripts, proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination and TSI scores.

TSTC is having registration events at its 10 campuses throughout the state this summer. For information on the closest Registration Rally, log on to tstc.edu/rally.

For more information, contact TSTC in Breckenridge at 254-559-7700 or visit tstc.edu.

TSTC in Abilene to Host Registration Events This Summer

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College will have three Registration Rally events this summer in Abilene.

The events will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 28, July 25 and Aug. 8 at the main campus at 650 East Highway 80 in Abilene. The events are part of an effort to make the registration process as easy as possible for incoming students planning to take classes in the fall semester.

“The registration rallies are important because it gives you an opportunity to meet instructors and clarify anything you need to know about programs and admissions,” said Rikki Spivey, a TSTC college outreach representative.

Visitors can take campus tours and learn about the 15 technical programs offered at TSTC in Abilene, including new programs in Industrial Maintenance, Electrical Power and Controls and Welding Technology.

Construction on the 56,000-square-foot Industrial Technology Center on Loop 322 next to Abilene Regional Airport is scheduled to be completed in time for the first day of the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 27.

People interested in enrolling should bring a copy of their driver’s license, high school transcript or GED, any college transcripts, proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination and TSI scores.

TSTC is having registration events at its 10 campuses throughout the state this summer. For information on the closest Registration Rally, log on to tstc.edu/rally.

For more information, contact TSTC in Abilene at 325-734-3608 or visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Dental Hygiene alum finds healthy success in Austin

(HARLINGEN) – Early on, James Cho knew that his calling was in the dental field so when he found the Dental Hygiene program at Texas State Technical College he knew it was the place for him, although there was one major challenge during the program that almost destroyed his dream.

The South Korean native was working as a dental assistant in Brownsville, after completing an online dental assistant certification program, but he wanted more.

“After working as a dental assistant for five years, and observing the duties and the care the dental hygienists and the dentists provided to their patients, I knew I wanted to do that too,” said Cho.

James Cho TSTC Dental Hygiene Alum

So after he began researching programs and realized the time it took to be a dentist was not in his cards, he chose the next best thing, TSTC’s Dental Hygiene program, the only program of its kind in the Rio Grande Valley.

“TSTC had exactly what I was looking for. The college was in my own backyard. A short 20-minute drive,” said Cho. “And their application and acceptance process was fair and square. Whether I passed my entrance exam or not was up to me. Everything was in my hands.”

The 39-year-old ended up being one of the highest scoring applicants who got accepted into the two-year program and earned his associate degree in 2017, with a 3.75 GPA and a job offer in hand.

But, this wasn’t almost the case.

While in the program, Cho went through a difficult divorce and became a single parent, which he says was disheartening and depressing.

“I started to lash out at classmates and people I cared about,” he said. “I made poor choices during this time that could have affected my future. It was tough to finish, but I hung on and made it through. I was given a second chance.”

Cho now works as the area dental hygienist with Brident Dental and Orthodontics in Austin, in charge of all three clinics in the area.

He made the move to Austin with his now 14-year-old daughter to have more opportunities to choose from and take advantage of the higher salaries outside of the Rio Grande Valley.

“I get to work alongside a wide range of team members and visit a different office pretty much every day. It’s refreshing,” said Cho. “I love what I do and actually look forward to going to work. I must say, I am very thankful and privileged to have such a career because of TSTC.”

As a hygienist, Cho is a patient’s key educator about oral health. He treats patients who are diagnosed with gingivitis or periodontal disease, coaches on nutrition, plaque control and overall oral health and delivers professional whitening services.

“I’m constantly striving to deliver the best quality of care to all of my patients,” he said. “And delivering the highest level of oral health care.”

Cho said what he has become today is the product of the experiences he had during his time in the dental hygiene program.

James Cho TSTC Dental Hygiene Alum

“The two years I spent at TSTC and in the program were the most unforgettable phases of my life,” said Cho. “The faculty and staff are incredible. They truly care about us as their students and our training, they strive to see us succeed and see the best in all of us.”

Cho added, “Had it not been for my instructors who realized my leadership qualities and gave me a second chance, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have become a more humble, thankful, caring, kind and helpful person, thanks to them.”

So, what’s in Cho’s future?

He will be starting classes soon to become certified as an orofacial myofunctional therapist, to help patients overcome disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth.

“My goal is to never stop learning. I will keep improving my skills and making myself more valuable to those I work with and for my patients,” said Cho. “And it all started at TSTC.”

For more information on TSTC’s Dental Hygiene program or the services offered at the TSTC Dental Hygiene Clinic, call 956-364-4696.

 

TSTC Pathways opens doors for local high school students

(HARLINGEN) – La Feria High School graduates and best friends Juan Buenrostro, 18, and Richard Alfaro, 19, recently completed the Texas State Technical College Auto Collision Technology Pathway through TSTC’s Dual Enrollment program and were the first ever to be recognized for this achievement.

“It was a really proud moment for my family and me,” said Buenrostro. “It’s always a great thing when you’re recognized for your hard work.”

His best friend shared the same sentiment.

“Sharing this moment with my best friend and family was the greatest,” said Alfaro. “I was very surprised, I didn’t expect to be recognized. I had never gotten anything like this before.”

Both men, who completed the career pathway – a series of courses toward a program degree –  while still high school seniors, were awarded a certificate and medallion at their high school’s fifth annual La Feria Certification Celebration Night.

“Juan and Richard were excited about the medal they received for completing this pathway,” said La Feria High School Career and Technical Education Secondary Coordinator Veronica Torres. “We are very proud of the determination and effort of these two students and we are looking forward to opening the doors of opportunity to many more students.”La Feria High School TSTC Pathway Grads

TSTC Dual Enrollment Advisor Sarai Duran said the pathways are a recent initiative and have only been in the works for the past couple of years, but the dual enrollment program, in which high school students complete college courses and receive credit, has been in place for several years.

Students can choose from 13 pathways to enroll in and complete ranging from Wind Energy Technology and Business Management Technology to Culinary Arts, Machining and Welding; and four online pathways: Medical Office Specialist, Computer Aided Drafting and Design Technology, Digital Media Design and Cyber Security.

“These pathways allow students to get a head start on college and work toward a certificate or degree and a career before leaving high school,” said Duran. “So it’s definitely a good thing when we recognize them for their hard work.”

TSTC is partnered with school districts from across the Rio Grande Valley, serving students from Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties.

In fact this last school year, 15 students from San Benito Consolidated Independent School District completed the Education and Training Pathway, while four students from the Pharr, San Juan and Alamo Independent School district completed the Agricultural Technology pathway and four more students from the McAllen Independent School District completed Auto Collision Technology.

School districts like La Feria, cover the program cost, supplies and books. The classes are free for students.

“By completing a dual enrollment pathway, students and their families not only save time, but also money,” said Duran.

Each pathway is worth 12-14 credit hours, allowing a student to complete one semester of college even before graduating from high school.

“The dual enrollment opportunity with TSTC opens the doors for so many students who may not feel qualified to a post-secondary education,” said Torres. “But this collaboration provides the students with the opportunity to gain the confidence that all students have a chance to succeed.”

Buenrostro and Alfaro are already planning to return to TSTC Fall 2018.

Buenrostro plans on enrolling in Auto Collision Technology to pursue an associate degree, while Alfaro plans on registering to earn a certificate in auto collision and an associate degree in Welding.

“TSTC was a great experience for me. I was shy at first, but it helped me break out of my shell,” said Buenrostro. “It was completely different from high school, but now I’m more confident in myself and excited that I have a career I’m working toward and that I enjoy.”

Alfaro added, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school, but after completing this pathway I have a plan and have been exposed to so many career options in my field. I really enjoyed my time at TSTC and I’m excited to return.”

For more information on TSTC’s Dual Enrollment Pathways and the programs offered, call 956-364-4165.

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Anahi Reyes Student Success ProfileAnahi Reyes is an Education and Training student at Texas State Technical College. She holds a 3.0 grade-point average and hopes to earn her associate degree in Spring 2020.

When the 19-year-old Harlingen native is not studying or volunteering on campus, she is teaching Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes at a local Catholic church, Queen of Peace.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate from TSTC, I plan on transferring to Texas A&M-Kingsville to pursue a bachelor’s degree in education.

What is your dream job?

My dream job is to become an early childhood or elementary teacher. Teaching has always been a passion of mine. Even when I was small and I played school with my friends, I HAD to be the teacher.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment so far was finishing my first year of college with a decent GPA, but I know there is more success to come.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The lesson I have learned is that to get what you want and to achieve your goals you have to study and work hard. Nothing worth having comes easy.

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

The person who has had the most influence on my success is my Speech Instructor Juanita Amiel Townsend. She has taught me to be more confident in myself and how to calm my nerves when speaking in front of large audiences. I’ve taken her advice and used it in other classes and it is especially important to keep in mind since I want to be a teacher.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to keep an open line of communication with their instructors. All of the instructors I have encountered truly care about their students and are involved in making sure they succeed. They work with you.