TSTC Student Overcomes Health Issues to Compete at SkillsUSA Nationals

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Sometimes all a person needs is a second chance.

Katherin “Leif” Brown, a Texas State Technical College Computer Networking and Systems Administration student, will proudly represent Texas and TSTC in the Telecommunications Cabling competition at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 24-28.

Undaunted by a health condition, Brown competed at the state-level SkillsUSA Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference two years in a row. She finally earned a spot at nationals on her second try.

“When I found out I was going to nationals, I was shocked and then surprised and then like, is this really happening?” Brown said.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce. More than 18,000 people, including students, teachers and business partners, are expected to participate in the national event.

Last year, just before Brown was set to compete for the first time, she was diagnosed with Addison’s disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Addison’s disease is caused by insufficient production of certain hormones.

“I have to be careful and really listen to my body. I can’t get too stressed. But if this has taught me anything, it’s that I’m strong enough to do anything,” Brown said.

Despite the challenges she overcomes daily, Brown is working hard to represent TSTC well at SkillsUSA.

“It’s something I have really enjoyed doing, and I feel it’s really helped me,” Brown said. “This is a job skill that will come into play in the real world, so this is extra practice at it.”

One person helping Brown to prepare is Computer Networking and Systems Administration instructor and SkillsUSA advisor Renee Blackshear.

“SkillsUSA helps open doors and serves to motivate students to put forth their best efforts and demonstrate their individual abilities to help close the skills gap,” Blackshear said. “Katherin has been an active member of our SkillsUSA team, and we look forward to supporting her in her preparations for nationals.”

Brown hopes to encourage others not only to be vigilant in their personal health, but also to pursue their passions.

“Don’t let anything stop you. Just pick yourself up and keep going,” Brown said.

For more information about TSTC, log on to tstc.edu.

Katherin “Leif” Brown will represent the state of Texas and TSTC at the 2019 National Leadership and Skills Conference. She will compete in Telecommunications Cabling.

TSTC in Marshall ELT Program Hosts Longview Boy for Up-close Visit

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Members of Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program on Monday gave a Longview boy an afternoon he will not soon forget.

Five-year-old Luke Harris received his own lineworker helmet and a TSTC Electrical Lineworker Technology poster from the faculty and students. The youngster learned how to operate a digger truck and run wire up a pole. He also gave directions to the students during a pole circle exercise.

“You can never begin too young to have an impact from an education standpoint,” said Eric Carithers, statewide chair for TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program.

Harris’ visit stemmed from a photograph his father, Matthew Harris, took of his son with a lineworker from Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) working in his neighborhood on May 11. SWEPCO workers were restoring power after a storm with straight-line winds caused more than 70,000 power outages in the area on May 8, said Mark Robinson, a SWEPCO external affairs manager in Longview.

The elder Harris noticed his son looking out the window at the activity taking place near their house. He said his son has been interested in power poles and likes climbing, especially up trees.

“Luke pops out, and he’s got his own little lineman outfit put together that his brother helped him with,” the elder Harris said.

Luke’s father said he could go in the front yard and wave the lineworkers.

Robinson came across the photo on social media and took some promotional items from SWEPCO to the younger Harris and his siblings and asked if the photo could be shared on the company’s Facebook page.

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

 

Breckenridge Native Named New TSTC Welding Instructor

(BRECKENRIDGE, Texas) – A familiar face will be helping to educate the next generation of welders at Texas State Technical College in Breckenridge this fall.
Stephen Hope, a Breckenridge native, is ready to serve his community as a welding instructor for the TSTC Welding Technology program.
“This is my way of giving back. I am all about supporting small towns, and my career as a welder took me all over the U.S. I was given the opportunity to learn a skilled trade, and now I hope to pass those opportunities on to others,” Hope said.
Hope graduated from Breckenridge High School in 2006 before attending Tulsa Welding School.  After graduating with a certificate, he worked for various companies such as Pal-Con and Lauren Engineers & Constructors.
“I’ve been all over the place either contract welding or shop welding — or even running my own business. It just shows how diverse the career field is,” he said.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas leads the nation in employment of welders, cutters, solderers and brazers. With such high demand, TSTC associate provost Debbie Karl is excited to have such an experienced welder for the program.
“He is a great guy with a great passion and talent for teaching others,” Karl said. “We had students who met him when they toured the facility and said they wanted to come to TSTC because he was going to be their teacher.”
TSTC’s certificate program in Structural Welding, which is offered in Breckenridge and elsewhere throughout the state, takes about 12 months to complete and teaches students shielded metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding and more.
Additionally, an associate of applied science degree in Welding Technology is available at other TSTC locations, including Abilene.
“I’m excited to see what the future holds for the students and to teach here,” Hope said.
Enrollment and registration is now open for the fall semester.
For more information, log on to tstc.edu.
Stephen Hope, a Breckenridge native, is the new welding instructor for TSTC in Breckenridge.  

TSTC Students and Faculty Observe National EMS Week

(ABILENE, Texas) – This week marks the 45th annual National EMS Week, which honors the dedication of those who provide lifesaving services each day.
As the next generation of emergency medical service providers prepares to enter the workforce, Texas State Technical College students and faculty remember why they chose to serve.
“National EMS Week allows me to pause and have a moment of gratitude for my fellow EMS providers and to feel proud that I am part of a profession that has such an impact on so many people’s lives. I’m humbled by it,” said Ronnie Pitts, TSTC’s statewide department chair for EMS.
Pitts has worked in the EMS field for more than 29 years. Before earning his Associate of Applied Science degree in EMS with a Paramedic specialization at TSTC in 2005, he served as a firefighter/advance emergency medical technician with the city of Vernon Fire/EMS Department.
Pitts says his time in the field and as an instructor has allowed him to make a positive impact on not just his patients, but also the patients his students will care for.
For one student, the opportunity to help others in crisis is what he loves most.
“It’s become my passion,” Zacory Gardner, a student in the Paramedic program, said. “EMS
Week allows the public a better understanding that we are more than a transportation vehicle. We are a mobile ER, and we are here to help.”
Gardner currently works as an EMT basic with MetroCare and is expected to graduate from TSTC in 2020.
Classmate Ian Shannon recently started with MetroCare as an EMT basic and says it is exciting to continue the family tradition of being a first responder.
“My mom is a nurse, and we’ve got family that is in fire rescue and law enforcement. I also wanted to help people but figured I would do it in a different way,” Shannon said. “(Working as an EMT) is a great way to help people.”
Shannon is also expected to graduate in 2020.
As National EMS Week comes to a close, TSTC’s EMS lead instructor Kandell Scruggs hopes her students feel appreciated for their hard work. But she also recognizes the need to thank the families of EMS workers for their sacrifices.
“EMS providers give up a lot of family time and time with loved ones, so this week serves as a chance not only to thank the EMS personnel for their service to the community, but also to thank their family members,” Scruggs said.
Scruggs has worked in the EMS field for 28 years and is excited for her students to become part of the EMS family.
Pitts and Scruggs both encourage anyone who feels called to serve their community to consider a career in EMS by attending an information session about the program held every Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Industrial Technology Center at 2082 Quantum Loop in Abilene.
For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.
TSTC in Abilene Paramedic students practice emergency birth and infant resuscitation procedures during National EMS Week.  
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TSTC Celebrates Moon Walk With Lecture, Book Signing

(WACO, Texas) – In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, Texas State Technical College will present a lecture and book signing by Douglas Brinkley, author of “American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race.”

The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 24, 2019, in the auditorium of TSTC’s John B. Connally Technology Center at the corner of Crest Drive and Campus Drive in Waco.

The Apollo 11 space mission occurred eight years after President John F. Kennedy announced a national goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.

In 1969 the late Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. As he stepped out of the Apollo 11 spacecraft, his words reverberated around his home planet some 238,900 miles away: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and professor of history at Rice University, a CNN presidential historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. 

In the world of public history, he serves on boards, at museums, at colleges, and for historical societies. The Chicago Tribune dubbed him “America’s New Past Master.” The New-York Historical Society has chosen Brinkley as its official U.S. Presidential Historian.

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

A Sign of Growth for TSTC

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – What says state pride louder than a 15-foot-tall monument in the shape of Texas?
Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater completed the construction of its new sign at the campus entrance in early May. The monument is similar to ones being placed at each of TSTC’s other nine locations.
“The sign is part of the new look and branding of TSTC. These signs are being installed on all the campuses across the state,” Maria Aguirre, senior executive director of
TSTC Communication and Creative Services, said. “Our campuses in West Texas — Abilene,
Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater — are getting the updates on this cycle.”
The signs not only mark the entrance to each campus, but also serve as symbols of statewide unity.
Before its single accreditation in 2014, each TSTC campus operated somewhat independently. Now the unified college has solidified its reputation for providing the Texas workforce with some of the most highly skilled technicians available.
The statewide “way-finding” initiative is being implemented by the TSTC Facilities, Planning, Construction and Maintenance department.
“I was very excited about it. I’m always excited when we get to build something, and it was very much needed,” Raymond Fried, associate vice chancellor of TSTC Facilities, Planning,
Construction and Maintenance Services, said.
The first sign was installed at the Fort Bend County campus in the fall of 2016.
For more information about TSTC, log on to tstc.edu.
The new monument standing at the entrance of TSTC in Sweetwater is 15′ tall and is similar to ones at Texas State Technical College’s nine other campuses. 

TSTC Instructors Raise Awareness of Educational Opportunities for Children in Foster Care

(ABILENE, Texas) – Young adults who have been in foster care in the state of Texas can go to college for free.
Two Texas State Technical College instructors of Industrial Maintenance, Daniel Diaz and Demetri Jones, are making it their mission to let foster youth know about this opportunity.
The two instructors and their wives are foster parents themselves.
Diaz and Jones are raising awareness of the State College Tuition Waiver available to foster youth currently or formerly under the conservatorship of the Texas Department of Family and
Protective Services (DFPS) and for those adopted from DFPS.
The State College Tuition Waiver exempts or waives payment of tuition and fees at state-supported colleges and universities.
In Texas there are more than 30,000 children in foster care, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Many of these children are eligible for a tuition-free college education.
“It’s important to share this information because we see a lot of kids who age out of foster care that didn’t get the buildup that they should have to know they can go to college. (The waiver) is an option, a free option, for them,” Diaz said.
Diaz was adopted by his grandparents as a child. Now he and his wife, along with their four children, have opened their home to foster children.
“We felt called to serve through fostering, and when we learned of this opportunity for these kids, we had to share it,” Diaz said. “We want these kids to know that a technical college is a perfect avenue if the traditional college route isn’t what they want.”
As he and his wife entered the foster care process, Diaz began teaching at TSTC and met fellow instructor Jones, who has adopted two of his three children through foster care and is currently fostering.
“We found out about (the waiver) for our kids, and we want others to know,” Jones said. “My kids were raised around a technical college and have seen the success that I had because of it, and I want that for others.”
Diaz and Jones are both TSTC Industrial Maintenance alumni.
“These (foster) kids all come from different backgrounds, and some have been through some bad things, but they deserve the opportunity to succeed,” Jones said.
For potential students to take advantage of the tuition-free education, they must be enrolled in a state-supported college or university before their 25th birthday.
Foster youth and foster parents are urged to call512-438-5442 to learn more about the State College Tuition Waiver and eligibility requirements.  Or, for more information on TSTC programs, go online at tstc.edu.
From left to right, Daniel Diaz and Demetri Jones are instructors at TSTC in Abilene Industrial Maintenance Technology program. The instructors are raising awareness of education opportunities for young adults formerly in foster care.

TSTC in Waco ELT Program Revamping CDL Course

(WACO, Texas) – Students enrolling this fall in Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program in Waco will have the opportunity to take a restructured commercial driver’s license class.

The program’s students had previously learned how to drive commercial vehicles on campus.

But now, students in their third semester  at TSTC will take a driving course through McLennan Community College and the American Truck Driving School in Elm Mott. The first class will be taught in summer 2020.

The class is backed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates all registered commercial motor vehicles for interstate freight, passenger and hazardous materials transportation.

“It cuts down on costs for the employer and makes the student more sellable,” said Eric Carithers, TSTC’s statewide chair for the Electrical Lineworker Technology program.

Representatives of area electric providers said having a CDL is vital for job candidates.

“As an electric utility, it’s imperative for us to have employees with a CDL,” said Bryan Blanton, a distribution system manager at Southwestern Electric Power Co. in Longview and chair of TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology advisory board. “It will be a huge success when graduates come out of TSTC’s linemen program already having their CDL.”

Craig Ptomey, program manager of craft and field training at Austin Energy, said having a commercial driver’s license is a preferred qualification for applicants.

“It is very advantageous for our company to have a new hire that has already met that requirement before we even hire them,” Ptomey said. “In turn, it gives them a better chance of being hired, as we do not have to spend time and money and other resources in training them. I think that TSTC does a great service to both their students and the companies that hire them by ensuring that students have their CDL before graduating.”

TSTC students will first need to get a commercial driver’s license permit before the end of their second semester, said Carithers.

“The students are required to have their permit and also a copy of their driving record,” he said. “They need a driving record for every state they have lived in the last seven years. They also need to undergo a drug screening.”

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

TSTC Electrical Power and Controls Graduates Hired by National Field Services

(WACO, Texas) – Six recent Texas State Technical College graduates have been hired by National Field Services based in Lewisville, Texas.

Seth Culver, Ashley Denton, James Fisher, Daniel Garmon, Luke Sanchez and Stephen Wheir all received their Associate of Applied Science degrees in Electrical Power and Controls at TSTC’s Spring 2019 Commencement in early May in Waco.

National Field Services has hired TSTC alumni for positions before. Bryan Necessary, an instructor in TSTC’s Electrical Power and Controls program, knew Matt LaCoss, the company’s South Texas field manager, when they were students at TSTC.

“He knows exactly what we are teaching the kids and what their skills are and what their background is,” Necessary said. “A lot of times, he doesn’t even have to ask technical questions because he knows what we are going to teach them.”

Garmon, of Jacksonville, Texas, said his new job fits with his previous work experience.

“I built power lines for many years and want to get in the transmission side of it to gain knowledge and experience,” he said. “I feel National Field Services is a great opportunity.”

Culver, of Rockport, Texas, said he will be based in San Marcos and work in the San Angelo area, where he will test power and control relays to ensure that power does not fluctuate for customers. Culver said he will also make sure cables are correctly placed.

“I’m really happy to be able to check someone else’s work, and make sure it is correct and fix it if it isn’t,” Culver said. “I’m happy to be able to use my brain more than my hands.”

National Field Services specializes in the maintenance, troubleshooting, engineering and disaster recovery of electrical power systems for the construction, manufacturing, petrochemical and other industries.

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

 

Hurricane Harvey helped one TSTC student find a career

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Two years ago when Hurricane Harvey devastated the Gulf Coast, Texas State Technical College student Nolen Maraman and his family lost their home to flooding, forcing them to start over, yet through it all he also found a new career.

“We had to evacuate north, in the middle of the storm,” said the 22-year-old. “And as we were leaving, I saw a number of electric companies arriving. There were men and women ready to get power up and running the moment the storm moved out of our area. To me that was intriguing and brave.”

Maraman would spend the next several days researching about what an electrical lineworker is and does.Nolen Maraman

“It didn’t take long for me to realize that becoming an electrical lineworker is what I wanted to do,” said the Cat Spring native. “It’s a career with many opportunities to offer, including the chance to help others.”

There was only one thing delaying his start at TSTC, and that was his last semester at Sam Houston University, he was only a few months away from graduation.

Maraman went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in business management, but he said it was only a path for him to follow, not what he wanted to do. He had found his true passion, and that was at TSTC.

“At first my family was a bit skeptical about me not pursuing a job with my degree, and returning to a technical college,” he said. “But after I showed them the number of job opportunities that would be available to me, how in demand my skills would be and my projected salary, they trusted my choice and were supportive every step of the way.”

He expects to graduate in August with a certificate in Electrical Lineworker Technology and said that the training he has received in his program will allow him to hit the ground running when he enters the workforce.

“I came in completely new. I knew nothing about the field,” said Maraman, “But because of the program’s experienced instructors and the hands-on, real-world training they provide to their students with an on-campus pole yard, I now know the foundation and the basics that I need to be a successful lineman.”

Maraman added that not only has he found his passion and new career, but he has also found happiness.

“I can honestly say I’m happy now,” he said. “I’m working toward a career that helps others, that I’m passionate about and that gives me room for growth.”

Nolen MaramanIn fact, both of Maraman’s parents received a technical education. His mom began her career as an emergency medical technician and his dad is an underwater welder.

“Technical education fuels our workforce,” said Maraman. “In my experience, my certificate is giving me more job opportunities than my bachelor’s degree, it’s unbelievable.”

Maraman also said that he highly recommends TSTC and the many programs being offered.

“These are life-long careers, not just jobs,” he said. “And I’m excited to begin mine. And I have (Hurricane) Harvey to thank for this.”

Graduates from TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program, also offered at the college’s Marshall and Waco campuses, can expect to be in demand for the nation’s highest paying career. Texas employs more lineworkers than any other state.

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment of lineworkers is expected to grow eight percent, and job opportunities will be best for persons with good technical and mechanical skills. In 2018 the median annual wage was more than $70,000.

For more information on TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program or to apply, visit tstc.edu.