Author Archives: Amanda Sotelo Sotelo

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Joseph GarzaJoseph Garza is a double major at Texas State Technical College. The San Benito native is pursuing associate degrees in Digital Media Design and Computer Science.

The 20-year-old expects to graduate in December from Computer Science and in Fall 2018 from Digital Media Design.

In addition to his academics, Garza is a member of the Pool Sharks Club and the Veteran Students Alliance Club. He also volunteers at his church and holds a part-time job to pay for school.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan on continuing my education either at TSTC for an associate degree in Business Management Technology or for a bachelor’s degree in one of my selected fields. I also hope to intern or work for my cousin’s advertising company.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to work for Apple. I hope one day to manage their user interface sector.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment while at TSTC has been becoming more active on campus, meeting new people and building great relationships.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

There is one thing I have learned and always carry with me. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, once said, “Stay young and stay foolish.” Whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed or stressed, I remember that I have to make sure my life remains fun.

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

I have to give props to several people: first and foremost Victor and Blanca Garza, my parents; John White, my composition instructor; Dr. Richard Kirk, my world religion instructor; and Edith Romero, my best friend. All of these people remind me every day why I’m here and are always supportive. I also tend to put others before me, and they make sure I think about myself even if it is only every once in a while.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

The advice I have for future and present TSTC students is to plan out what you’re going to do. Don’t procrastinate. Also, don’t stress out too much. It’s important to have fun.

2017 TSTC Chancellor’s Excellence Award Recipients Honored

(HARLINGEN) – Four 2017 Texas State Technical College Chancellor’s Excellence Award recipients based in Harlingen were honored this week with a luncheon hosted by TSTC Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Mike Reeser.

“Today we celebrate you,” Reeser told the honorees. “It is your proven leadership and character that have earned you this honor. You are the best of the best at TSTC.”

During the luncheon, several TSTC administrators and past Chancellor’s Excellence Award recipients celebrated the awardees: Wind Energy Technology Instructor Juan Alferez, Building Maintenance Supervisor Roberto Chapa, Vice President of Enrollment Services Dr. Christine Stuart-Carruthers and Veteran Program Officer Jose Villegas.

The four were recognized earlier in the year for their achievements at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Awards Dinner and Celebration in Austin, joining the legacy of more than 200 TSTC recipients.

TSTC Chancellor's Excellence Award Luncheon

“I am in ‘aww’ to be in your presence,” said Harlingen Interim Provost Rick Herrera. “And I take this time not only to congratulate you, but also to commend you on your hard work and success.”

Chancellor’s Excellence Award recipients are chosen based on nominations from colleagues, as well as their character, hard work, and dedication to the college and its students.

Reeser mentioned that this award represents leadership and the respect colleagues have for each other, regardless of position or title.

“This award has meaning because it’s given to a person of great character,” said Reeser. “And when a person of great character sets out to do something, you get greatness and a habit of excellence.”

Herrera and Reeser went on to thank all recipients, past and present, for their continued commitment to the college.

“Each and every one of our recipients embodies and exemplifies TSTC’s mission,” said Herrera. “We appreciate everything they do for our college and our students. They’ve applied excellence in all they do.”

Reeser has made it a priority to host honoree luncheons at every TSTC campus to share with attendees the significance of the award and its importance to the college.

This year there were 14 TSTC Chancellor’s Excellence Award recipients statewide.

Reeser closed the luncheon on this note: “On behalf of the TSTC administration, faculty, staff and students, we thank you with all of our hearts. Keep up the great work, and I am honored to be on the same team as you.”

TSTC Honors Veterans With Ceremony

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College hosted its annual Veterans Day Celebration on Friday to honor those who serve in the United States Armed Forces.

TSTC’s Veterans Day Celebration is an annual tradition to give back and celebrate veterans and the service they have given.

TSTC Veteran Program Officer Jose Villegas said that as an Army veteran himself he knows firsthand how honored he feels when someone thanks him for his service or shows their appreciation.

“I feel a sense of pride when I know that veterans are getting support from their community,” Villegas said. “It’s a big deal and I want other veterans to feel this. A simple thank you and an acknowledgment goes a long way.”

Hector Yanez, TSTC vice president of Instructional Support, opened the ceremony with a few words of appreciation.TSTC Veterans Day Celebration

“It is my pleasure to be in the presence of those servicemen and servicewomen who serve or have served,” he said. “It takes courage and sacrifice from you and your families for what you do for our country.”

He described the ceremony as a tribute to remind veterans that they are always remembered.

Continuing with tradition, a local veteran was invited to be the guest speaker.

Pedro Saldana, Army veteran and South Texas Veteran Education Coordinator for the Texas Veterans Commission, addressed TSTC’s veteran faculty, staff and students and offered some advice.

“We need to help our veterans,” he said.

He went on to explain that the biggest support veterans can have will come from their families.

“Without the support of our families, we wouldn’t have been able to complete the battles that we faced,” he said. “Even when we return home, the war is still not over.”

Saldana also thanked TSTC for the various ways the college is helping veterans.

TSTC serves nearly 200 veterans in Harlingen and more than 700 statewide.

“Without the type of help our veterans receive at TSTC, they would not be able to continue their education,” said Saldana. “It is through everyone’s support, care and help that they can continue their mission of an education.”

The ceremony also included the presentation and retiring of colors; a flag-folding presentation by the Harlingen High School South Air Force Junior ROTC; a tribute to prisoners of war and missing in action by the American Legion 15th District drill team; and a lunch catered by TSTC alumnus Frank Macias, owner of Frankie Flav’z in Harlingen.

“It is an honor to be invited back to my alma mater for such a special occasion,” said Macias. “This is the least I can do for those who protect our freedoms. I want them to know they are not forgotten.”

The ceremony concluded with special recognition for those who contributed to the event and with last words from Yanez.

“Thank you again for your service and sacrifice,” said Yanez. “God bless you, God bless your families, God bless our troops and God bless America.”

TSTC is Leading with Service

(FORT BEND) – National Make a Difference Day was on Saturday, October 28, but for the students and staff at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County the project continues beyond one day.

TSTC has partnered with Fort Bend Community Revitalization Projects (CORPS), a nonprofit corporation that has completed repairs on more than 3,500 homes in Fort Bend County, and its Hearts and Hammers program, which focuses on the exterior restoration of homes.

“This is the first time we’ve partnered with them and it’s been a success,” said TSTC Director of Student Services Georgeann Calzada. “I like to form relationships with different organizations in the area since TSTC serves Fort Bend County not just Rosenberg.”

The students were set to paint a 55-year-old home belonging to an elderly woman during Make a Difference Day, but because the house required additional work and the yard needed care, painting was postponed for November 4.

“Our students want to do a good job and get the job done right,” said Calzada. “So the decision to postpone the painting to do the additional work was a group choice.”

Instead, the students mowed and manicured the lawn, cleaned debris that was left over from the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, power washed the home and removed old paint.TSTC National Make a Difference Day 2017

“I’m so proud of our students and their dedication to this project,” said Calzada. “It really shows their character and commitment to making a difference in their community.”

For Electrical Lineworker Technology student Madison Ellis this was his first National Make a Difference Day, but as a long-time volunteer for the Special Olympics he is no stranger to community service.

“I love helping people and creating blessings,” he said. “The house we’re working on is someone’s home and our goal is to create a safe, comfortable and beautiful environment for the owner.”

This is why it was important to Ellis and his peers to put in the extra elbow grease. Calzada said she is excited for their second Saturday on the project and expects additional TSTC students and staff to join them.

“These students have really encouraged their friends to come out and help,” she said. “Many have gained new perspectives on their lives, appreciation for what they have and are encouraged to do more in their community.”

This is the second year TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus participates in National Make a Difference Day.

TSTC Executive Director of Student Life Adele Clinton said statewide, among TSTC’s 10 campuses, the number of student volunteers for this day has increased exponentially with close to 400 students putting in at least 1,500 volunteer hours.

“Statewide we’ve seen the need for students to do service,” she said. “They love it and when students engage in community service they learn communication skills, teamwork, conflict resolution and that volunteerism is fun, while promoting TSTC in their own backyards.”

For more information on TSTC and the programs it offers, visit

TSTC Serves: Students Honor National Make a Difference Day

(HARLINGEN) – Driving down the south side of Harlingen on a chilly October Saturday morning, it was easy to spot Texas State Technical College student leaders working to beautify the city during National Make a Difference Day.

At least 180 students joined forces with Keep Harlingen Beautiful, City of Harlingen Parks and Recreation, Coakley Middle School and Marine Military Academy to plant flowers and shrubs along 12 canal banks.

TSTC Coordinator of Student Life Belinda Palomino said this project has been the largest in scale they have done to date and she is proud of the outcome.National Make a Difference Day 2017

“For the lack of better terms, my students killed it,” she said. “I’m so proud of their commitment and dedication to getting this project done.”

From start to finish, the project took four hours — with a minor glitch that was solved with some teamwork.

“The truck our pavers were on got a flat tire, but thanks to the collaboration by city employees and our volunteers we were able to continue our project and beautify the community for its residents,” said Palomino.

The project was valued at more than $47,000 with volunteer hours accounting for $8,800, saving the city some money.

“It is so great getting to work with students who are so committed to their community,” said Palomino. “I’m grateful to each and every one of them.”

TSTC Student Government President Isela Rodriguez was one of the team leaders for the project. She said what made the project even more worthwhile was the support they were receiving from the community.

“People were honking and yelling ‘good job’ and stopping by to compliment our work and show their support,” she said. “Even Harlingen City Commissioner Victor Leal stopped to talk to us. The positive feedback we got was encouraging.”

Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell also addressed the group and showed his support and appreciation for the project and everyone’s hard work.

Rodriguez went on to say that the day was exciting and she is thankful to everyone who came out to work alongside them to make National Make a Difference Day a success and make a difference in the community.

In a survey taken by the student volunteers, it was evident they shared Rodriguez’s sentiment and agreed that this project gave the residents of Harlingen a cleaner environment, increased the value of the community and made people happier.

“The success of this project was a group effort,” said Rodriguez. “It was a mission impossible, but we made it possible.”

National Make a Difference Day was also honored with community service events at TSTC’s 10 other campuses statewide.

For more information on TSTC and its programs, visit

TSTC Automotive Technology Receives Large Donation

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College Automotive Technology programs at Harlingen, Waco and Sweetwater recently received large donations from San Antonio’s CarFest and TSTC industry partner Jasper Engines and Transmissions.

The donation from CarFest totaled $30,000 and was divided equally among the three campuses and will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the TSTC Foundation for student scholarships.

Jasper donated another $2,500 to each campus for the purchase of automotive engines and transmissions to be used for industrial training.

Combined, Automotive Technology at TSTC’s Harlingen campus received $12,500.

TSTC Automotive Technology and Auto Collision Technology Lead Instructor Adan Gutierrez said these recent contributions are not only great for the program, but also for its students.

“We are so grateful to have received these donations,” said Gutierrez. “It helps us train more students and gives us the opportunity to give them access to the newest technologies.”TSTC Automotive Technology

TSTC’s Waco campus is a second-year sponsor of San Antonio’s CarFest, an event organized to help repair vehicles for local families in need and dedicated to building a culture of continuous skill building, quality and pride in the automotive industry.

Faculty and students from TSTC’s Technical Drag Racing Association and Automotive SkillsUSA Club arrive at the event ready and willing to get under the hood, diagnose the problem, complete repairs and return the car to the family ready to drive.

TSTC Automotive programs Statewide Department Chair Rudy Cervantez said this is the second year they have received a donation of this magnitude from CarFest.

“This is an organization that likes to give back to its community,” he said. “And they definitely give back to our students in more ways than one.”

He added that CarFest gives the students a hands-on, real-world experience and an opportunity to speak with industry professionals in addition to the donations that help pay for tuition, books and equipment.

“We’re really excited for next year’s CarFest in April,” said Cervantez. “Our Waco team will be there and we’re encouraging our other campuses to join us.”

Gutierrez said he is working diligently to get his students from TSTC’s Harlingen campus to San Antonio in April for the event.

“This is great experience for our students,” said Gutierrez. “And our goal is to get our students there and have them experience this event first hand and to give them the opportunity to give back to an organization that has given them so much.”

For more information on TSTC’s Automotive programs, visit

Student Success Profile – Oliver Diaz

(HARLINGEN) – Oliver DiazWorking full time to pay for school and being a part-time student has been a challenge for Texas State Technical College Culinary Arts student Oliver Diaz, yet he still holds a 3.0 grade-point average.

The 22-year-old, Mercedes native said as a child and even now he is fascinated by the culinary world and combined with his love for food, he knew TSTC’s Culinary Arts program was the right fit for him.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate with my associate degree I plan on returning to TSTC to pursue Business Management Technology.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to open a restaurant/catering business. It’s a long way from my original dream of becoming an architect, but I’m excited for my future in the culinary industry, it’s where I’m meant to be.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment was simply starting college to pursue a degree. After high school I worked immediately to help my parents and save money for college. I liked working so much that college wasn’t even in the picture, but with encouragement from my girlfriend, here I am.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lessons I have learned are patience and endurance. Patience because I know as a part-time student it’s going to take me longer to finish and endurance to keep going.

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

My girlfriend and TSTC student and Orientation Student Leader Yajaira Gonzalez is my greatest influence. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here. I admire her for all of her success and it makes me want to become a better person for her. She pushes me to keep going and is my support.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to not fall under pressure, be patient and stay focused.


TSTC Hosts Annual Industry Job Fair

(HARLINGEN) – Jose Luis Barajas got up from his interview chair excited and nervous, yet confident about how well it all went during his on-site interview at Texas State Technical College’s Industry Job Fair.

The Biomedical Equipment Technology student will graduate with his associate degree in December and had the opportunity to interview with Baylor White and Scott Health, the largest not-for-profit health care system in Texas and the largest in the United States, for a Biomedical Technician position he has his eye on.

“The job fair has been a great opportunity for me and many others to visit and interview with recruiters we may never get to speak with otherwise,” said Barajas. “I’m really interested in Baylor White and Scott and I was told I would be recommended for the job, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

Barajas was one of more than 400 TSTC students and alumni who attended the job fair hosted by TSTC’s Talent Management and Career Services department.TSTC Industry Job Fair

TSTC Director of Talent Management and Career Services Viviana Espinosa said the main goal of the event is to help students network and learn about potential employers and job opportunities in an informal setting that helps to ease nerves and anxiety.

“We want our students and graduates to build their confidence when speaking with employers,” said Espinosa. “Ultimately, the more confidence they gain the better they’ll do in interviews and the sooner they’ll start their careers.”

Espinosa added that there were several job offers made at the event with many employers staying after to tour the programs and continue speaking with students.

At least 40 employers such as Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas, Cleaver-Brooks Sales and Service, Koenig and Bauer, Air Force Civilian Service, Texas Instruments, SpawGlass and Valley Baptist Medical Center were on hand to speak with students and alumni about job opportunities, accept resumes and conduct on-site interviews.

Christian Robertson, a human resource partner with Plastipak Packaging Inc., a global producer of plastic containers, said although the goal of the event is to help students, it also helps him tremendously as an employer.

“It’s difficult finding skilled employees and here at TSTC I know I’ll find highly-qualified students or graduates to hire,” said Robertson. “They have the desirable skill set we need for our company and we’re ready to hire.”

Espinosa said overall, the job fair was a success with a lot of positive feedback from students and employers alike.

“Employers were very impressed with our students,” she said. “Many will even be returning for our spring job fair, other recruitment events and program tours. This is exciting for us and for our students.”

TSTC will host its second Industry Job Fair on April 5 next year.

For more information on student, alumni and industry services offered by TSTC’s Talent Management and Career Services, call 956-364-4940.

TSTC’s New Program Offers Student a New Life

(FORT BEND) – Jerry Nieto is one of the first students in Electrical Power and Controls, a program in its first semester at the Texas State Technical College Fort Bend County campus.

Originally from Brownsville, Nieto first enrolled at the TSTC Harlingen campus in 2001 to pursue an associate degree in what was then Drafting and Design Technology.

Although he completed his classes and the job offers flooded in, Nieto never registered for graduation and never received his associate degree. Immediately after this he moved to New York with his sisters and never looked back.

“I sometimes wish I could turn back time and give my young self a pep talk,” said Nieto. “I don’t know what I was thinking back then. I could have had a stable, good-paying career. But I can only move forward now.”

Life altogether has not been bad for Nieto. He held onto a successful car sales job In New York before moving to Houston and going into business with his father-in-law. However, neither gig was something he could see himself doing long-term.

So, after nine years, Nieto and his father-in-law sold their fiber-optic cable business and Nieto started making calls to TSTC’s Harlingen campus wondering if it was too late to get his associate degree.TSTC EPC Student Jerry Nieto

“Time moves on and things change, but I figured it was worth the try,” he said.

Well, with nearly a decade gone by, some of Nieto’s credits didn’t count anymore and he would have to take new classes. Basically, starting all over.

“TSTC was great to me once, so I knew if I was going to start anywhere, it was going to be at TSTC,” said Nieto. “Lucky for me the Fort Bend County campus opened, because I am back.”

Barely reaching the halfway point in his first semester, Nieto said the Electrical Power and Control program is already exceeding his expectations.

“I’m a husband and father now with a different mindset,” he said. “I’m ready to learn. I understand the importance of an education and I’m ready for a new career.”

Nieto added he now understands the importance an education can have on his life and the opportunities TSTC provides for its students.

“Not only are classes hands-on, but our instructors are leaders in industry with extensive experience,” said Nieto. “That has to be appreciated, because that’s what gets students far.”

TSTC Electrical Power and Control Instructor Jonathan Bonkoske spent more than 30 years in the industry working in power distribution, electrical power and motor research and design.

In August, he made the jump to teaching to share his knowledge with students like Nieto and to help give them insight into the industry.

“Nieto is one of my students who I know has life experience and is eager to learn,” said Bonkoske. “I know it’s early into the semester, but seeing him work hard and jumping into his projects like he is, lets me know that he has a bright future. He has all of the qualities an employer looks for.”

Bonkoske said his goal is to share his experience with all of his students and teach them the hands-on skills they need to be placed in a good-paying job that will help build their career.

And as for Nieto, he said his goal is to learn as much as he can from Bonkoske and his peers, graduate with his associate degree and find a career that will help him support his family.

“This time around I’m taking advantage of everything TSTC has to offer me and I’m going to make the most of it,” he said. “I know they’ll give me the confidence I need to be one of the best in the industry.”

Electrical Power and Controls is also offered at TSTC’s North Texas and Waco campuses. For more information visit,

TSTC STEM Day Inspires Non-traditional Career Paths

(HARLINGEN) – Bertha Rivera, a senior at Santa Rosa High School, put on safety glasses to hammer, staple and build a toolbox and birdhouse during her Building Construction Technology tour at Texas State Technical College’s Diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Day.

The 17-year-old joined at least 90 other high school students from across the Rio Grande Valley at the day-long event hosted by TSTC Advisement and Recruitment to expose girls to careers in non-traditional fields.

“The event was a lot of fun. My favorite part was getting to build things,” said Rivera. “And the best part was I got to take my creations home as a keepsake.”

Rivera said STEM Day was inspirational and it has motivated her to apply at TSTC to pursue an associate degree in Engineering after she graduates in May.TSTC Diversity in STEM Day

In addition to Building Construction Technology, students toured Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics, Automotive Technology, Biomedical Equipment Technology, Chemical Technology and Precision Manufacturing Technology.

Anna Cortez, TSTC success coach, said STEM Day focuses on encouraging girls and women to pursue male-dominated professions by giving them the opportunity to experience programs hands-on and hear from women already paving the way.

“I hope students take away a sense of empowerment,” said Cortez. “I hope they feel and know that they can pursue and achieve anything they want and set their minds to.”

That was the same message keynote speakers, TSTC Building Construction Technology student Susanna Sierra and TSTC alumna and Applications Engineer Tommie Erica Ponce, wanted students to take away.

“Continue your education don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it,” said Sierra. “Because as long as you have the mindset you can do anything. Don’t give up on your dream. Show people what you’ve got.”

Cortez said one of the biggest obstacles for girls and women is following a non-traditional career path where there is no one to turn to for guidance or advice and that is why STEM Day is so important.

“STEM Day gives students, both male and female, an outlet to explore, discover and ask questions,” she said. “Many of our instructors and speakers are leaders in their industry and can serve as role models for these students.”

At the end of the day students were also treated to a Non-traditional Program Expo with TSTC instructors and students showcasing their technologies and answering questions.

For more information on the technologies offered at TSTC, visit