TSTC Educating Students About Green Construction

(WACO) – “Going green” also means “making green” for many involved in the construction industry, and students at Texas State Technical College in Waco can choose from several eco-friendly technologies that could lead to lucrative jobs.

TSTC integrates green building construction into its Building Construction Technology associate degree and Building Construction Craftsman certification. Students can also earn an associate degree in Solar Energy Technology or a certification as an Energy Efficiency Specialist.

“We look at various ‘green conscious methods’ from water conservation and reuse, to how to frame a home efficiently, to using less materials, to understanding the total cost of using local material and what that translates to financially,” TSTC Energy Efficiency Specialist instructor Tony Chaffin said.

By the beginning of this year, green construction was expected to have created 1.1 million jobs and supplied $75.6 billion in wages in the United States, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

“The new energy and building codes are requiring us to step up our game, so it’s vital that we start feeding people into the industry that know the most efficient and sustainable and financially smart ways to build and inspect buildings,” Chaffin said.

TSTC building construction students learn from the ground up ways to build sustainable and efficient residential and commercial properties.

“Green building is a completely alternative way of building things. We talk about the weird stuff like straw-bale construction and adobe building and earth-bag construction — all of the out-of-the-norm building methods to create a more efficient construction,” Chaffin said.

In addition to alternative construction methods, Solar Energy Technology students discover alternative energy resources in their studies.

“Solar has been established as an alternative energy for a while. But it is now becoming a very realistic option that people are switching to, and it’s creating a large job market,” said TSTC Solar Energy Technology instructor High Whitted.

In studying solar technology, students become familiar with the electrical components of solar panels to make them competitive in the electrical field as well.

“The solar field is so heavily electrical that we make sure that when our students leave, they have the solar and the electrical knowledge to make them more valuable than the person who can just install the solar panels,” Whitted said.

Along with solar, students explore energy resources like wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and natural gas.

“We create well-rounded students that get the whole package. They can talk to the customer and explain it in layman’s terms and also work with the technicians and fellow builders or do the inspections,” Chaffin said.  

The construction industry remains competitive, but instructors notice that graduates with a “green background” are becoming more valuable to employers.

“I’ve had several students come back and say that when they mention in their interviews that they have this knowledge and certification, their employers are thrilled. It makes them so much more marketable,” Chaffin said.

In an electric world, keeping the lights on while balancing resources the planet has to offer is an ongoing concern. Students with knowledge of green construction are leading the way to building a brighter future.

“Energy is expensive, and it’s only going to get more expensive. So, if we can make our resources last longer by requiring less of them and make sure our students are prepared to use these materials, we’re moving in the right direction,” Chaffin said.

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



TSTC in Waco Earns Gold Medals at State SkillsUSA Postsecondary Conference

(WACO) – Cody Scheffe, 21, a student in Texas State Technical College’s Building Construction Technology program, figured he would be up for the challenge.

And, he was correct.

Scheffe won the gold medal in Carpentry at the SkillsUSA Texas Postsecondary State Leadership and Skills Conference held April 5-7 at TSTC in Waco.

“Mr. (Michael) Carrillo (a TSTC Building Construction Technology instructor) started talking about SkillsUSA, and it sounded like a good opportunity,” said Scheffe of Windthorst, Texas. “I opted in. I didn’t believe it when my name was called.”

Texas State Technical College in Waco won 24 gold medals, 15 silver medals and nine bronze medals.

“As has been the case for the past couple of years, TSTC in Waco had a very good showing, bringing home the most medals from the conference,” said James Matus, TSTC’s SkillsUSA manager. “I hope that momentum will carry over to nationals like it did last year for them.”

While some students will return to the national competition in June, others will make their debuts.

Cici Bunting, 19, is a second-semester Culinary Arts major from La Porte who won the gold medal in Commercial Baking.

“I was very surprised,” she said about winning. “Chef Gayle Van Sant had to push me out in the aisle to get my medal.”

Bunting made French bread, an empty pie shell, a apple pie, decorated a premade cake and made other treats in a six-hour span. She practiced with Van Sant and Chef Paul Porras, also in TSTC’s Culinary Arts program, to improve her skills.

Gabriella Romero, 20, of Red Oak placed first in Advertising Design. The Visual Communication Technology major could not attend the awards ceremony, so she received the news of her win through a group text.

“I was screaming at the top of my lungs,” Romero said. “It was a shock and so unreal.”

Romero worked with Visual Communication Technology instructors Stacie Buterbaugh and Jennifer Piper to perfect her design portfolio.

“They pushed me to do my hardest and helped me to get my point across to the consumer in my designs,” Romero said.

Romero will be pushed even more in her skills up until the national conference because she will have to learn how to do designs on a personal computer – the Visual Communication Technology program uses Apple computers – and also how to use InDesign.

“I’m happy I get the opportunity to show people my skills,” she said.

Gold medalists are eligible to compete at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in late June in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I think it makes a statement about the technical college and what we can put forward,” Scheffe said.

Other gold medalists from TSTC in Waco are:

Architectural Drafting: Oscar Luna

Auto Refinishing: Hector Corujo

Cabinetmaking: Timothy Watkins

Computer Programming: Jeremiah Stones

Diesel Equipment: Mark Schimank

Collision Repair Technology: Juan Alcala

Electrical Construction Wiring: Dykota Smith

Information Technology Services: Cameron Westerfield

Interactive Application and Video Game Creation: Dylan Borg and Travis Pitrucha

Job Skill Demonstration Open: Jondaria Maxey

Pin Design: David Ijegbulem

Plumbing: Jude Gonzales

Related Technical Math: Vicky Lackey

Residential Systems Installation and Maintenance: Rickie Hartfield

T-Shirt: David Ijegbulem

Teamworks: William Chance, Ricardo Delgado, Joseph Hermann, Andres Zapata

Technical Drafting: Larry Cipriano

For more information on SkillsUSA, go to skillsusa.org.

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


Chancellor’s Excellence Award – Chris Martin

(FORT BEND) – Although Chris Martin has only been with Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County for just over a year, he has already made a favorable impression and recently earned the 2018 Chancellor’s Excellence Award.

“Before this, I was not familiar with the award or the scope of it,” said Martin, business relationship manager for TSTC. “So when people started congratulating me and making a big deal, I was surprised to learn what it meant.”

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award is given by TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser to select faculty and staff for their distinguished service and dedication to the college, their communities and their state.

“These teammates were nominated by their peers, recommended by their provosts and vice chancellors, and chosen as faculty and staff who model excellence in our college every day,” said Reeser. “Their caring and dedicated efforts embolden us all to make a difference in the success of our teams and the lives of our students.”

Born in Houston and raised in Fairfield east of Waco, Martin graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Houston in 2000 and a master’s degree in business administration from Houston Baptist University in 2015.Chancellor Excellence Award Chris Martin

He arrived at TSTC with an extensive background and experience in economic development, real estate and health care. He first heard of TSTC while serving on the Rosenberg Development Corporation, where he still serves as president.

“One of the initiatives for the Rosenberg Development Corporation was to bring TSTC to our county,” said Martin. “I was instantly impressed with the college and the services and opportunities it would offer to our area.”

Martin was working as a real estate agent and owned a small business consulting group when he saw the job posting on TSTC’s website.

“My passion is economic development and workforce training. I love all facets of the area,” said Martin. “So I saw this as a great opportunity for me and I went for it.”

As TSTC’s business relationship manager in Fort Bend County, Martin establishes business relationships for the campus with the goal of securing workforce training opportunities.

Besides the work he does for TSTC, Martin maintains his real estate license, serves on the board of the local library and museum, is a committee member for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and serves as a swim meet director for his son’s competitive swim team.

Loree Scott, TSTC’s senior executive director for workforce training, said Martin has a servant’s heart, which is an inspiration to many.

“Chris was instrumental during the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Harvey,” said Scott. “He volunteered countless hours with the TSTC food pantry, located and assisted TSTC Fort Bend County families with cleanup and rescue, offered his home to our TSTC families who were displaced, and found resources such as gas in the days following the storm.”

Scott added, “It is Chris’ willingness to go above and beyond in everything he does that makes him so deserving of this award.”

Martin said he is thankful to those who nominated him for this distinguished award and is happy to represent TSTC.

“It’s humbling to know that my work is being noticed, and I feel so appreciated,” he said. “Never have I received an award like this. TSTC is truly one big family, and I hope I can continue to be a part of the college’s growth and live up to what this award means.”

Martin will join the other 15 Chancellor’s Excellence Award recipients from across TSTC’s 10 campuses in May for the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development awards dinner and celebration in Austin.

TSTC veteran student club host annual Car Show

(HARLINGEN) – The Veteran Students Alliance Club at Texas State Technical College will be hosting its Fourth Annual Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show tomorrow to raise funds for veteran student scholarships.

This is the largest fundraiser for the student-run organization that assists veterans and their families with the transition to civilian life and awards scholarships, a tradition started in 2013.

“Sometimes our veteran students come in with no benefits or not enough benefits and these scholarships help supplement what they need to attend TSTC,” said Veteran Center Director Steve Guevara. “These scholarships have made the difference in many lives and have allowed veterans the chance at a new career.”

Every semester, three students receive a $300 scholarship that can be used to cover tuition, books and supplies, tools or room and board.TSTC veteran student car show

Student veterans who apply for the scholarship must have prior military service, 90 plus days, or 30 days medical discharge; be a part-time student; have a 2.0 grade-point average and complete a 300-word essay.

“The scholarships we award our veteran students act as a reminder that they are not forgotten and we are here to help them in any way we can,” said TSTC Veterans Program Officer Jose Villegas.

There are three competitive categories that car, truck and motorcycle enthusiasts can sign up for to help support the cause: Best in Show, Provost Choice and People’s Choice. Registration fee to enter a car is $20.

The show is free and open to the public, but to those wanting to contribute to the club’s mission can purchase tickets for $1 that will count as one vote for their favorite vehicle for the People’s Choice award.

Winners in all three categories will receive a framed United States flag plaque, gift cards and car care gift sets that have been donated by local restaurants and auto shops.

“All money raised from competitors, spectators and vendors goes a long way when you’re helping students pursue an educational dream,” said Guevara.

TSTC alumnus Frank Macias, owner of Frankie Flav’z in Harlingen, will also be joining the cause. He will have his food truck at the event with a portion of the proceeds going to the scholarship fund.

“We want to encourage our community to come out and support our students,” said Villegas. “The more people we have in attendance, the bigger our event grows annually and the more students we are able to help.”

Since the event’s initiation, the Veteran Students Alliance Club has raised more than $3,000.

Those interested in registering a car into the competition have until 10 a.m. the day of the event, Saturday, April 21.

For more information, call the TSTC Veteran Center at 956-364-4385.

Event Information:

Saturday, April 21, 2018

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

TSTC Student Center Parking Lot (off Oak St.)

1902 N. Loop 499 Harlingen, Texas 78550

New Industrial Maintenance Program at TSTC to Fill a Need for West Texas

(ABILENE) – Some of the most sizzling careers right now in West Texas are in the industrial maintenance field, and Texas State Technical College is poised to fill the need.

TSTC in Abilene will offer the new Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Maintenance – Mechanical Specialization at the Industrial Technology Center opening this fall on Loop 322 next to Abilene Regional Airport. Students will learn about electrical theory, industrial maintenance, blueprint reading, hydraulics, pneumatics and other topics in the heavily hands-on program.

Shea Hopkins, director of talent management at the Abilene Industrial Foundation, recently took a tour of the ITC.

“It was looking good,” she said. “I think it’s exciting to have something like this in Abilene, and I think the students will be excited about it.”

Hopkins said one of the first questions prospective companies ask is if skilled labor can be found to fill available positions.

“What I like about industrial maintenance is it is the most comprehensive,” Hopkins said. “It gives the students a little bit of everything. It is not as specific as some of the other degrees. It makes for well-rounded employees, and the companies can use them for a lot of different jobs so they can use those skills.”

Graduates can use the associate degree to become millwrights, industrial motor control technicians, and electrical and electronics installers and repairers.

Electro-mechanical technicians and industrial maintenance mechanics are considered in-demand occupations in the region, according to Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas.

Steve Collins, business and resource consultant at Workforce Solutions, said there are more than 800 job openings now in the wind farm, oil and gas and manufacturing sectors in Callahan, Jones and Taylor counties for installation, repair and maintenance. The number can shift almost daily as hiring is done and jobs are open.

Collins said TSTC’s Industrial Maintenance program will be helpful to fill employment needs.

“The more education you can get, the better qualified you are,” he said.

Joe Tiner, chief engineer at Texas Healthcare Linen in Abilene, said he needs maintenance technicians who can read blueprints and troubleshoot electrical problems quickly and know how to fix machinery. He said it was great that students will get to study Industrial Maintenance in Abilene.

“Those are the guys that TSTC will produce and give them a baseline of what they need to do once they are in the field,” he said. “That is how I learned.”

The high-tech laundry company works with hospitals in Abilene and throughout West Texas to clean their 14 million pounds of laundry per year.

“We work long shifts, five days a week, and are at only about 50 percent of our capacity,” Tiner said. “We have been growing.”

The new Industrial Maintenance program has also piqued the interest of area companies.

Acme Brick, based in Fort Worth, has a production plant in Lubbock and retail brick, tile and stone stores in Abilene, Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland and San Angelo.

“That would be a nice place to look,” Yulonda Charles, Acme Brick’s human resources manager, said about TSTC in Abilene. “I do partner with TSTC on most of their campuses. We are looking for trainees coming out of TSTC, but they need to be open to moving where we have a plant.”

West Texas Industrial Engines Inc. in San Angelo specializes in engine overhauls, field services, machine shop services and other work for the oil and gas field.

“The problem with filling jobs is San Angelo’s unemployment rate is less than 3 percent, so our opportunities to fill positions in the industrial field are very limited,” said C. Alan McClain, the company’s president and chief executive officer and a TSTC in Sweetwater alumnus.

He said it was exciting that TSTC in Abilene was expanding its technical offerings with the Industrial Maintenance program.

“I think it will be outstanding,” McClain said. “Anything we can do to help get people in the skilled trades and get them an education and place them in skilled trade jobs would be great.”

The Industrial Maintenance program will be offered in Abilene pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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


TSTC Commencement to Be Held April 27 in Marshall

(MARSHALL) – Texas State Technical College Precision Machining student Joshua Davidson will cross the stage Friday, April 27, with a smile, knowing that he already has a job waiting for him.

Davidson, an Air Force veteran, was offered a job as a tool and die maker at Emerson Electric and will begin working after he graduates. Davidson said it is great knowing he does not have to worry about finding employment after graduation.

“It felt awesome knowing that there’s a company out there that wants my skill set and wants me to fill the opening that they’ve got,” he said.

TSTC’s Career Services office selected Emerson to be a presenter for an Employer Spotlight day at TSTC. Davidson said that was when he first met with the company.

“I sat down and talked with them,” he said. “Pretty much the next day, I went down there and did a tour of the Emerson plant. About a month later, I was sent a job offer, and they’ve basically been waiting on me to finish up school.”

Davidson chose to pursue a degree in machining after visiting the school for a tour.

“I saw some stuff that had been done — basically woodworking — on CNC (computer numerical controls) and it piqued my interest,” he said. “I kind of wanted to get into a job that I could learn how to do that and be able to do my hobby on the side.”

He is also working on a Computer-Aided Drafting and Design degree but said he will have to finish those classes at a later date.

Davidson, president of the Beta Beta Phi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, said he enjoyed his time at TSTC overall.

“I’ve had excellent support from my instructors,” he said. “It didn’t take me too long to get through the program, so that was nice. TSTC is an excellent school; I’d consider it one of the best technical colleges. They will provide you with an excellent education.”

Davidson will join 75 other students eligible to walk the stage at TSTC’s commencement ceremony in Marshall. The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. at the Julius S. Scott Sr. Chapel at Wiley College.

TSTC is registering now for the fall semester. The last day to register is Monday, Aug. 20, and classes begin Monday, Aug. 27.

For more information on the college, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC’s largest fundraiser honors Bob Shepard, helps countless students

(HARLINGEN) – Last night, The TSTC Foundation of Texas State Technical College hosted its 13th Annual Noche de Gala, the college’s largest fundraiser of the year, with at least 200 in attendance.

It was a night of celebration honoring one of Harlingen’s leaders in higher education, Bob Shepard. He joins a long line of prestigious higher education supporters who have had this honor in past years.

“As I go around town telling people that Mr. Shepard is this year’s honoree, I always get the same reaction, ‘It’s about time,’” TSTC Interim Provost Cledia Hernandez told the audience. “Bob Shepard has single-handedly done more for higher education in South Texas than any other Valley resident. TSTC students past and present owe much to the dedicated work of this very special man.”

Shepard was born and raised in Harlingen and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin in Business Administration.

Shepard currently serves as president of Shepard Walton King Insurance Group and has more than 40 years of experience in the insurance industry, but he also has dedicated most of his life to ensuring that Valley students have the same opportunities as students in other parts of the United States.

Shepard’s message is this: “An educational institution like TSTC gives students and members of our community an opportunity for an education that is vitally important in our world today.”

The Harlingen native is active in the area of higher education both locally and statewide. He has served on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), appointed by Gov. George Bush in 1996 and again by Gov. Rick Perry in 2004.Noche de Gala 2018

He served as chairman of the THECB from 2005 to 2008 and was instrumental in helping to establish higher education opportunities such as new degree programs for the RGV. In that capacity, he was able to work closely with policymakers and education stakeholders to develop and implement a higher education framework, including strategic planning for community programs and technical colleges.

“Bob’s role in Austin was one of a guardian angel,” said Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell, who presented Shepard with a proclamation at the gala. “He has always known that the Valley needed to have more opportunity of higher education. Bob played an important role throughout the development of Texas State Technical College and has done a tremendous job in advancing higher education not only in the Rio Grande Valley, but throughout the state of Texas.”

Others who spoke on Shepard’s work and commitment to higher education included Texas Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes, former Harlingen Chamber of Commerce President David Allex, TSTC President Emeritus Gilbert Leal, former TSTC Regent and former Harlingen Mayor Connie de la Garza, and former Harlingen Mayor Randy Whittington.

“Bob, congratulations on being recognized by TSTC for your leadership in higher education,” said Paredes. “Bob always wants to ensure that all children in Texas have the opportunity to receive a full education in whatever field they want to pursue. He’s a man who practices what he preaches and is always committed to working for higher education.”

Shepard’s work has touched countless TSTC students, including three who were in attendance to tell the audience that if not for the work of people such as Shepard and his wife, Ann, and other donors at the event, a higher education would not have been a possibility.

All proceeds from Noche de Gala go to fund the Lozano Long Promise Scholarship which was established in 1999, and the TSTC Texan Success Scholarship.

Both scholarships have helped thousands of students like vocational nursing student Julie Villarreal and building construction students Abel Garza and Susana Sierra realize their dream of a college education.

“My scholarships have motivated me toward finishing my education and paying back with good grades,” said Garza, a first-generation college student. “I am really thankful to have been granted these scholarships. Thank you to all of the donors, because every scholarship impacts students in a positive manner.”

Villarreal, who already holds an associate degree in Health Information Technology, said the scholarship has been a blessing.

“Thank you to every donor who has lifted a weight of financial burden off of our shoulders,” said Villarreal. “It’s people like you who make a difference in many lives, and I’m forever grateful. I hope one day I’ll be able to sit in your chair and make a difference in lives.”

“What makes this gala a success is hearing from the students who we have helped,” said TSTC’s Senior Development Officer Amy Lynch. “To see the impact the donations from today’s event have made and the opportunities they have provided is invaluable. And the reason so many succeed is because of the people who attend our event.”

Noche de Gala has raised more than $1.5 million and has helped more than 400 students achieve their educational dreams.

To learn more about Noche de Gala or for more information on becoming a donor, call The TSTC Foundation at 956-364-4500 or visit tstcfoundation.com.

TSTC alum finds success in male-dominated career

(HARLINGEN) – Nancy Villafranca is a single mom who knew she needed to support her son, but finding jobs was hard. Thanks to Texas State Technical College and its Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics degree, she was able to find a career she loves.

The Brownsville native graduated from TSTC with an associate degree in 2015 and is now working as a CAD technician and fabrication shop manager at Central Air and Heating Services (CAHS) in Harlingen.

“I never imagined myself doing this line of work,” said the 29-year-old. “It’s a male-dominated career path. And honestly, I was intimidated, but now I am loving it. It’s something challenging and different every day, and I have been given so many opportunities.”

Villafranca has been with CAHS for a little more than one year now, but she first started her journey as a nursing student at TSTC.Nancy Villafranca

“I loved the medical field, and I was going to be a nurse,” she said. “But things changed. After a semester, I realized it wasn’t for me. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was lost.”

With a newborn in the house, Villafranca said the only thing she did know was that she had to do something.

So after getting advice from a few TSTC instructors and looking at what intrigued her about her father’s career as a toolmaker, she knew that Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics was her best choice.

“I don’t regret the career change at all. I’ve never looked back or wondered ‘what if.’ I made the best choice for me and my son, and it has worked out great,” she said.

Villafranca now designs and drafts piping and ductwork for commercial projects, oversees supplies and materials for project managers and field technicians, manages at least 13 employees at the CAHS fabrication shop, and ships out materials to job sites.

She has even worked on major design projects for TSTC, her alma mater. She drafted and designed all ductwork and piping for TSTC’s new chiller plant and a recent addition to the engineering building.

“Everyone I work with is great,” Villafranca said. “From the top down, everyone is so helpful, encouraging and always available to answer questions. They are great teachers and care about the success of their employees.”

Sean Lavergne, CAHS production manager, said Villafranca is an exceptional employee and excels in whatever she tries.

“Nancy is a self-starter, always goes above and beyond, and is willing to learn new things. And she’s respected by all,” said Lavergne. “This is what really impressed me about Nancy.”

He added that Villafranca is never afraid to challenge herself, whether it is taking on new responsibilities, or learning a new software or skill.

“With Nancy’s determination, I see her going far in her career,” he said. “I told her I won’t be a production manager forever, and I can see her taking it.”

After a layoff and a job in Corpus Christi that Villafranca deemed too far from home, she believes she ended up where she belongs.

“I’m where I’m supposed to be,” she said. “My son and I are back at home with our family. I’m doing what I love and taking life one day at a time.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for drafters who have a two-year associate degree is expected to increase seven percent from 2016 to 2026. An increase in construction is projected to drive the demand.

TSTC’s Abilene, Brownwood, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater and Waco campuses also offer drafting and design.

For more information on TSTC’s Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics degree, visit tstc.edu.

Registration for Summer and Fall 2018 is in progress.


Chancellor’s Excellence Award – Vanessa Vasquez

(HARLINGEN/FORT BEND) – It will be three years in May since Vanessa Vasquez became part of the Texas State Technical College family to share the passion she has for student recruitment.

It is this same passion and dedication she exhibits daily that has earned her the honor of being a 2018 TSTC Chancellor’s Excellence Award recipient.

“I literally cried when I found out,” she said. “I was astonished and never expected anything like this to happen to me.”

The Brownsville native and TSTC executive director of admissions joins 15 other honorees statewide who were given the award by TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser for their distinguished service and dedication to the college, their communities and the state.Vanessa Vasquez Chancellor's Excellence Award recipient

“Their caring and dedicated efforts embolden us all to make a difference in the success of our teams and the lives of our students,” said Reeser. “These teammates were nominated by their peers, recommended by their provosts and vice chancellors, and chosen as faculty and staff who model excellence in our college every day.”

Vasquez, who is also a first-generation college graduate, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Teaching-Early Childhood Education in 2007 and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education in 2012, both from the University of Texas at Brownsville, which is now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

It was at UTB where Vasquez first discovered her passion for higher education as a work-study student in the Admissions and Records department.

“My first job became what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” said Vasquez. “The experience of working with students from the time they enter our college’s doors to the time they walk across the stage in a cap and gown is invaluable to me. It makes me believe that what I do matters and changes lives.”

After Vasquez’s four-year stint in work-study, she went to work for six years as a transcript evaluator and later as a recruiter at UTB. She then worked as the admissions and records coordinator for Texas Southmost College for another three years before moving to TSTC.

“I was immediately interested in checking out TSTC. I knew it wasn’t an ordinary college, and I wanted to be a part of that,” she said.

Vasquez said it was the hands-on training and one-on-one teaching offered to TSTC students that drew her to the college as the advisement and testing center coordinator.

“TSTC has exceeded all of my expectations,” she added. “They have opened my eyes to the opportunities they provide and have been a game changer for even my family.”

After only one year with TSTC, Vasquez received her promotion as executive director and made the move to TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus, where she now resides. But she didn’t leave by herself.

“A four-year college wasn’t for my youngest brother, and he had given up on the dream of a college degree,” she said. “But when I introduced him to TSTC and invited him to come with me, he agreed and is now a college graduate with a certificate in welding.”

Vasquez added that this, along with the rest of her siblings having become college graduates, is a huge success for a family that lost their father at a young age and grew up in a single-parent home.

Christine Stuart-Carruthers, TSTC’s vice president of student development and senior enrollment services officer, said that the greatest assets Vasquez brings to the team are her passion for helping students and her leadership.

“She is motivated to help students achieve their dream of completing a college education, and her passion is contagious. She is always motivating those around her and lending a helping hand,” said Carruthers. “Vanessa has been instrumental in helping launch the Fort Bend County campus and in molding the culture so that staff are ready to take on whatever comes their way.”

Carruthers added that she is excited for Vasquez’s recognition and that her peers also recognize the hard work she puts into helping students and being a resource for others.

Vasquez said she hopes to continue growing with the college, working hard on her No. 1 goal of helping students succeed and continuing to making those who nominated her proud. She added that she doesn’t want to let them down.

Vasquez and the other TSTC Chancellor’s Award recipients will come together in May for the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development awards dinner and celebration in Austin.


Student Success Profile – Luis Ramirez

(HARLINGEN) – Luis Ramirez is a Business Management Technology student at Texas State Technical College. The Harlingen native holds an impressive 3.6 grade-point average and expects to earn his associate degree in Spring 2019.

When the busy 20-year-old is not studying, you can find him working on weekdays as a student ambassador for recruitment and on weekends coordinating parties at a local party/event center.

What are your plans after graduation?Luis Ramirez Student Success Profile

After I graduate from TSTC, I plan on transferring to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to pursue a bachelor’s degree in marketing and then apply for law school at the University of Texas at Austin.

What’s your dream job?

My dream jobs are to become a business and real estate lawyer either in the Valley or in San Marcos, Houston or Austin and eventually become a judge.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment so far at TSTC has been becoming a student ambassador. Before this, I was very timid and shy and would not want to converse with anyone, but this position has made me more social and less afraid of public speaking. It has made a huge difference in my life.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned about life is to never settle. Always reach for your highest potential and never give up on your goals and dreams.

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

The person at TSTC who has had the greatest influence on my success is my girlfriend and best friend, Fatima Fuentes. She is a biology major and has helped me out in more ways than she knows. She helped me not only pass biology with her tutoring, but she also pushes me to do the very best and is always an inspiration.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to work on campus if given the opportunity. It helps you grow as a person and a student, obtain new skills — not to mention it is also pretty convenient.