Author Archives: Amanda Sotelo Sotelo

TSTC Student on Path to New Career

(FORT BEND) – Gerardo Garcia was the only graduate in December to get a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and earn Board of Regent graduate honors, and he managed this accomplishment against great odds.

Garcia earned his certificate in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technology during TSTC’s Commencement Ceremony at the Rosenberg Civic Center.

This semester, the Zapata native is back in the classroom pursuing an associate degree in his field and another perfect GPA.

“I have big goals for myself and before TSTC they weren’t happening,” said Garcia. “My future was uncertain and now I feel like things are falling into place.”

The 27-year-old’s journey at TSTC started when he got laid off from his job in the oil and gas industry and was invited by his twin sisters to join them in Houston.Gerardo Garcia HVAC Board of Regent Graduate

“For six months I had no job and no money,” said Garcia. “I was tired of being considered not hirable.”

So in January 2017, Garcia enrolled at TSTC and got a part-time job at Home Depot to pay for school. However, it was not an easy ride.

“Everything about my classes was great,” he said. “The instructors were attentive and always there for me and the hands-on training I was receiving was excellent, but I was struggling personally.”

While at Home Depot, Garcia worked well into the night. At least twice a week, Garcia would get out at 3 .m. and would sleep in his car to ensure that he made it to class by 8 a.m.

On the days he would get out earlier he would make the half-hour drive home to finish homework and get some sleep.

“It wasn’t easy working overnight and I didn’t want my education to suffer,” he said. “But I also needed the money.”

So, instead of leaving school, he left Home Depot and found a job at HEB.

“It was the best decision I could have made,” said Garcia. “HEB’s schedule allows me to focus more on school. I’m well on my way to a new career.”

Garcia has dreams of someday getting his contractor’s license and starting an HVAC residential and commercial business after getting some experience in the field.

“With an associate degree, my resume will no longer be tossed to the side and ignored,” said Garcia. “I have a degree and skills that people are looking for and it’s now going to be easier finding a job.”

Garcia, who expects to earn his associate degree Summer 2018 said he wants others to know that if they are looking for a new career or a career change TSTC is the place to go.

“TSTC is changing my life and will lead me to job security and stability,” said Garcia. “I highly recommend TSTC.”

For more information on HVAC Technology or to apply and register anytime, visit

Student Success Profile – Jackeline Perez

(HARLINGEN) – Jackeline PerezJackeline Perez is an Education and Training student at Texas State Technical College. The 18-year-old holds a 3.7 grade-point average and expects to earn her associate degree in Spring 2020.

When the San Benito native is not busy studying she can be found volunteering around campus and the community with TSTC’s Service Squad.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan on continuing my education at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Bilingual Education. I will also look for employment at a local school district so I can work and gain experience while still in school.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become an elementary bilingual teacher. Although, a girl can dream, and it would be nice to someday pursue a music career as a singer.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment so far is my high GPA. I know that maintaining my good grades will help me cross the finish line and receive my degree.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned was taught to me by my mother and aunt. They have always told me to never give up. If I fail I know to get back up, keep going and strive for my goals. This advice keeps me going when I’m struggling.

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

The person who has had the most influence on my success is Amanda Tamez, my Developmental Math instructor. Math is not my strong subject and she helped me get through the semester and understand the material. She did such a good job at teaching me that I ended up with an ‘A’ at the end of the course. Thank you Ms. Tamez.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice is the same advice shared with me: Don’t give up, dust yourself off when you fall and keep going. At the end everything you work hard for is worth it.

TSTC Hosts Fourth Annual Empowerment Conference

(HARLINGEN) – Texas is known as one of the states with the highest number of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients, which is why Texas State Technical College, which serves more than 200 undocumented students, will focus its Fourth Annual Empowerment Conference on the issue.

This year’s conference, hosted by TSTC’s Student Support Services department, will be held on January 25 at the TSTC Cultural Arts Center from noon to 5 p.m. and is titled: DACA: The Dreamer’s Challenge.TSTC Fourth Annual Empowerment Conference

“This issue is one that has had a huge impact in our area and our state,” said Student Support Services Coordinator Patty Flores. “There are so many students who are uncertain about their future in the United States and are lost and confused with how to handle the situation.”

Flores said the goal of the event is to provide the resources DACA recipients, their families, friends and advocates need to make informed and educated decisions about their next steps.

The half-day event will include three speakers: Abraham Diaz, La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) education specialist, Gabriel Sanchez, Texas Rural Aid and Ana Villegas, Villegas Law Office immigration attorney.

Presentations on “DACA and Know Your Rights,” Texas Rural Legal Aid Services and “Be Prepared,” will be presented by the speakers, respectively.

“Our goal is to educate and empower with information,” said Flores. “This isn’t an issue that only affects those who are undocumented. It’s affecting their children and families as well.”

To close this year’s event, the Harlingen High School Drama Department will perform their play, “Tracks: Inspired by Real Events.”

The play is dedicated to those who have suffered on the journey and lost their lives while immigrating to the United States seeking a better life and the American Dream.

The conference, which has touched on other issues such as human trafficking, drugs and cultural awareness, is open and free to the public.

“We encourage everyone from TSTC students, staff and faculty to the community to attend,” said Flores. “This is an issue that hits close to home for many.”

To register and reserve your seat visit Eventbrite at The last day to register is January 24.

For more information, call TSTC Student Support Services at 956-364-4525.

TSTC Offers New Online Technical Awards

(STATEWIDE) – Across the state, students at Texas State Technical College now have the option of enrolling in and completing a technical award online with the college’s newest 100 percent online programs.

The most recent online programs that offer either a certificate or associate degree are Cyber Security, Digital Media Design and Medical Office Specialist. Health Information Technology was the first program to go completely online.

“These technical awards are a great addition to what TSTC already offers,” said Associate Vice President of Online Learning Gina Cano-Monreal. “It doesn’t matter anymore where you live because completing a technical award at TSTC is now more possible than ever.”

It was these online classes that gave Missouri native Kathleen Albert the opportunity of receiving an associate degree from Health Information Technology.

The 54-year-old had already spent most of her life working as a certified professional coder, but her dream was to become a registered health information technician and TSTC’s 100 percent online program made it possible.

“I did my research, found TSTC offered the program I needed, spoke with the faculty and I was more than impressed,” said Albert. “Never did I feel alone during the program. All of my instructors were available when I needed them. I highly recommend this program and TSTC.”

Albert is now working as a Reimbursement Analyst for St. Anthony Medical Center in Missouri and credits all of her success to TSTC’s online program.

“I had the opportunity to travel to West Texas and meet my instructors in person to thank them for helping me achieve my goal,” said Albert. “More doors of opportunity opened for me because of their teaching and TSTC.”

There are a total of 186 online courses and at least 20 programs such as Surgical Technology, Computer Science and Chemical Dependency Counseling that offer more than 50 percent of its curriculum online.TSTC Online Courses

“Our hybrid programs are gaining popularity with students because of their flexibility and convenience,” said Monreal, who is also an online instructor for Anatomy and Physiology.

Each hybrid program offers the lecture portion of the class online and all labs on campus.

Last semester, TSTC’s online programs had more than 3,000 students enrolled statewide and Monreal said she expects to see annual increases as more courses are added.

According to Monreal, the program with the highest enrollment is TSTC’s Academic Core, which includes subjects such as composition, college algebra, history and biology.

“These are classes our degree track students need, so being able to take them online is a huge plus for them,” she said. “For example, students can save on gas, childcare and work full-time if needed.”

For Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics student and Edinburg native Gabby Perrett that is the case. She has recently become her father’s temporary caregiver due to illness and driving nearly an hour to campus is no longer an option.

The 20-year-old, who is pursuing an associate degree, is currently taking her required English and Mathematic courses.

“Being able to take these courses online allow me to continue my education even though I can’t be on campus,” she said. “I’m grateful to have this type of opportunity that allows me to continue pursuing my dreams even with my current situation.”

All online course semesters are 15-weeks, online technical certificates and degree programs offer the same degree plan as those offered on campus and all online classes are aligned statewide.

To register for an online course a student must apply and satisfy all TSTC admissions requirements, meet with an advisor and successfully complete the Student Online Orientation.

Monreal said the future of TSTC’s online course offerings is bright. Their goal is to expand technical degree offerings while maintaining a quality learning experience.

“We will continue to increase opportunities for students and stay in touch with students’ needs,” said Monreal. “We’re going to take what we have and take it to the next level.”

Starting in Fall 2018, Business Management Technology and Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics will also offer an associate degree 100 percent online.

For more information on TSTC’s online courses or to register, call 956-364-4050 or visit

Brownsville Native Appointed to TSTC Board of Regents

(HARLINGEN) – Alex Meade joins the Texas State Technical College family as a newly appointed Board of Regent with nearly two decades of experience in the economic studies and economic development arena.

The Brownsville native and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mission Economic Development Corporation was recently appointed to serve a six-year term as a TSTC Board of Regent by Texas Governor Greg Abbot.

“I’m really honored to serve as a regent for TSTC,” said Meade. “I look forward toenhancing Texas’ highly skilled workforce and continue to support the Governor in keepingTexas competitive.”

Meade took the lead role of CEO at Mission EDC in 2011 and since then has attracted businesses such as Black and Decker, Rexnord, Southwest Steel and Royal Technologies that have created hundreds of jobs.

He has also implemented programs such as Ruby Red Ventures, a small business fund for the citizens of Mission; Code the Town, which promotes computer science education; and Mission EDC’s Center for Education and Economic Development, a 55,000 square-foot center which aims to create an entrepreneurial, science, technology, engineering, art and math (E-STEAM) ecosystem.

Alex Meade

“Our job at the EDC is to not only recruit companies and support small business, but to develop the talent that will create a ready workforce,” said Meade. “It’s the same task TSTC focuses on daily, which is why I’ve always been a huge fan of the college.”

The newly appointed regent said his goal is to support the chancellor with his initiatives and continue to ensure that TSTC stays on the forefront of today’s global economy.

“What the chancellor is doing is remarkable and unique,” said Meade. “TSTC is unlike any other state institution and can pivot to changing technology trends and growing industry demands.”

TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser said it is an honor to have Meade and his talents on board.

“Mr. Meade’s extensive professional experience in business and economic development will be a great resource for the TSTC Board of Regents,” said Reeser. “We’re especially honored to have representation from the South Texas region, which is home to one of our flagship campuses.”

Meade received his bachelor’s degree in Economics in 1999 from St. Edward’s University, a Master of Business Administration in 2006 from the University of Texas in Brownsville and a Master of Public Administration in 2015 from the University of Texas-Pan American.

Meade’s experience dates back to his very first job after college with Southern Union Gas Corporation as a cost analyst. He has also worked at Grant Thornton, LLP as a management consultant in the Global Public Sector in Washington D.C.; Burton McCumber and Cortez, LLP as the manager of litigation support; Long Chilton, LLP as a senior accountant; and the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce as the interim director and manager of economic development.

“I worked closely with TSTC when I was with the Harlingen Chamber and I saw the impact they had in our area and across the state,” said Meade. “TSTC is the only institution in Texas ready and capable of keeping the state competitive.”

Also leading the way in the community, Meade has served on local boards such as RGV LEAD, Teach for America-Rio Grande Valley, Border Trade Alliance and RGV Partnership.

Serving his state, Meade has also been appointed by Abbott to the Texas Economic Development Corporation and by Governor Rick Perry to the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners and the Governor’s Advisory Board of Economic Development Stakeholders.

“Texas’ workforce and the skills required are constantly changing,” he said. “I’m excited to have the opportunity of working with this great institution in training for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Pharr Native Appointed TSTC Board of Regent

(HALRINGEN) – In 1989, Tony Abad graduated from Texas State Technical College with an associate degree in Drafting and Design, little did he know then that he would be back nearly 30 years later to serve as a TSTC Board of Regent.

The Pharr native was recently appointed by Governor Greg Abbot to a six-year term as a member of the TSTC Board of Regents and said he is honored for the appointment and the opportunity of working with a great team.

“I am so honored that the governor appointed me as a regent for a college that taught me everything I know,” said Abad. “TSTC opened a huge door for me and I want to help do the same thing for others.”

Abad is a Mechanical Design Engineer with Syber Jet Aircraft in San Antonio with three decades of experience in aircraft modification. He’s also a respected community leader, activist and volunteer.

Abad said his goal as a regent is to continue the tradition of a technical education and to help fill the skills gap in the Texas workforce.Tony Abad

“I want to make sure that our instructors always have the resources they need to train our students and stay up to date on the technology and procedures industry uses,” said Abad. “I also want to educate our communities on the importance of a technical education and the type of career opportunities it can provide.”

TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser said he is honored to have Abad serving on TSTC’s Board of Regents.

“Mr. Abad is a graduate of TSTC in Harlingen and has achieved an outstanding level of professional success,” said Reeser. “Having an alumnus as a member of the Board is a testament to the possibilities provided to our graduates, so we’re excited to have his unique perspective as part of our governing body.”

Abad, a husband and father of three has climbed the ladder and he said it is all thanks to his two-year degree.

“When I went back to school I was a shoe salesman and it wasn’t cutting it,” he remembers. “I had a family to support like many of our students do. And TSTC helped me do that.”

Immediately after graduating, he went to work with Chrysler Technologies in Waco as a drafter and through some changes and 25 years in the industry he finally became a Senior Mechanical Designer and Chief Engineer Liaison.

“TSTC helped start my life and take care of my family,” he said. “From a couple making $12,000 a year combined to earning $35,000 a year, our income nearly tripled. We were in our early twenties, so it was a ‘wow’ moment for us.”

As a leader in his community, Abad has also served as a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McLennan County, Prosper Waco Financial Branch Committee and Waco school board committees. He was also past president of the Hispanic Republican Club of McLennan County, Waco Sunrise Rotary and Sanger Heights Neighborhood Association.

In his free time, Abad helps friends who are running for local, state and nationwide positions campaign, encourages people to register to vote and engage with their elected officials, spends time with his family and reads books such as “The Complacent Class” by Tyler Cowen.

“I love being busy and getting involved,” said Abad. “I’m excited for everything that’s to come and ready for my responsibilities as a TSTC Board of Regent.”

Student Success Profile – Jesus Hernandez

(HARLINGEN) – Jesus HernandezHarlingen native Jesus Hernandez is a Computer Systems Management Technology student at Texas State Technical College and expects to earn his associate degree this semester.

On top of maintaining a 3.4 grade-point average, the 21-year-old is also a student worker for the Office of Student Success as a Peer Mentor and volunteers around campus during registration rallies and new student orientations.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I hope to enter the workforce as an information technology (IT) technician and return to TSTC for an associate degree in Computer Networking and Security Technology or pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Computer Science.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to work my way up the ladder and become a supervisor at a hospital and manage its IT department.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment at TSTC has been completing my Academic Core and becoming a peer mentor motivating other students and helping them through challenges they face.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is from my mother and that is that patience and kindness take you a long way.

Who at TSTC has influenced your success the most?

The person who has influenced my success the most is my supervisor Norma Salazar, TSTC director for Instructional Tutoring. She has guided me and supported me in my job and my studies. She’s always willing to help and give advice. She is a great leader.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future and current TSTC students is to always keep an open mind, stick with your goals and work hard. It’s rewarding to have the opportunity to learn something and later be able to practice it and teach it to someone else.

Student Success Profile – Arelynn England

(HARLINGEN) – Arelynn EnglandArelynn England is a Biology student at Texas State Technical College. The McAllen native holds a 3.4 grade-point average and expects to earn her associate degree in Fall 2018.

The 20-year-old also stays busy by working as a student orientation leader, volunteering with the Student Government Association and interning with Texas State Representative Oscar Longoria.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan to return to TSTC for the Dental Hygiene program. I hope to work in the field after that and save money for dental school.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become an orthodontist and open a family dental clinic here in the RGV and help the people of my community.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment so far at TSTC has been receiving the internship opportunity with Representative Longoria. It goes to show that my hard work has not gone unnoticed.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is ‘do not quit.’ I’ve closed many doors because I would quit the moment things got hard. But I’ve learned to take every opportunity as a new adventure and make choices that I can be proud of.

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

Larissa Moreno, my former supervisor, has influenced my success the most. She makes hard work fun and helped me gain the confidence I need to believe in myself. She has helped me in more ways than she’ll ever know and has helped me see I can do more that I think I can.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to get involved, be purposeful and diligent. Also, be a good student and work hard because it will get you far.


TSTC Receives Gold-Level Military Friendly School Award

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College prides itself in not only placing more Texans in good paying jobs, but also helping veterans transition to civilian life through education.

It is this mission that has earned TSTC the prestigious Gold-level Military Friendly School Award for 2018.

TSTC in Harlingen has been recognized as a Military Friend School for the eighth straight year, and this is the third year TSTC has received the distinction statewide.

TSTC serves more than 1,100 veterans and their dependents at all 10 campuses across the state.

Harlingen alone serves 337 veterans and veteran dependents.

 “Our veterans and their families have sacrificed so much and TSTC is ready, willing and able to support them and their dependents,” said Interim Provost Rick Herrera. “TSTC is here to take care of our veterans and their families and help them succeed in their educational journey.”

With this award, the college’s military initiatives are being honored for their standard of excellence. The Military Friendly Gold Awards showcases the most powerful and effective programs, meaning TSTC is in the top 20 percent of the institutions ranked within their categories.

Only 541 schools nationwide have been recognized for excellence in different categories which distinguish a college based on the questions: “Are you military friendly?” and “How Military Friendly are you?”

For more than a decade, Military Friendly ratings have set the standard for companies and colleges demonstrating positive employment and education outcomes for veterans and their families.

“All of our Military Friendly award recipients set the standard for excellence,” said Daniel Nichols, chief product officer of Victory Media and head of Military Friendly development.

“They offer exceptional examples of what it means not just to build a program that meets federal requirements, but one that serves the military and veteran community from classrooms to careers.”

TSTC Veteran Center Director Steve Guevara said their goal as a center is to make honoring and serving TSTC student and employee veterans a top priority.

The Veteran Center serves as a centralized, one-stop shop for prospective and current veterans and their dependents. Here, veterans can get assistance with admission, financial aid, GI Bill and Hazlewood applications, in addition to other internal and external services and referrals to ensure a successful college experience.

The Veteran Center also serves as the meeting site for the Veteran Students Alliance Club, a club created to unite all students who have served the nation in any branch of the military during war or peacetime, and to promote a feeling of energy, support, knowledge and excitement to face challenges together.

“I hope TSTC veterans take away a sense of pride knowing that we (TSTC) truly do appreciate the sacrifices they have given during their services in the United States Armed Forces,” said Guevara. “We are committed to providing excellent service and veterans can be assured that TSTC is doing its very best in supporting the needs of veterans and their dependents. It brings me great joy to see my brothers and sisters at arms succeed.”

Guevara added that TSTC Veteran Services is working closely with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to provide services under the Veterans Upward Bound program and Veterans Affairs to bring the Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) program to the TSTC campus in Waco to increase the rate at which veterans graduate.   

For more information on TSTC’s Veteran Center call 956-364-4387.

TSTC Toys for Tots Campaign Brightens Holidays

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College recently hosted a holiday celebration for the families living in TSTC campus housing and the children of TSTC’s Early Head Start and NINOS Head Start programs complete with food, games, gifts and a visit from Santa Claus.

The gifts that were distributed to the children by Santa were donated by TSTC faculty and staff during TSTC’s annual Toys for Tots drive. In all, 176 toys were collected and distributed this year.

TSTC Toys for Tots is an annual tradition hosted by Support Services. TSTC employees have been collecting and distributing toys for close to two decades.

“The families we select for toy distribution have either low incomes or no incomes due to being full-time students at TSTC,” said Patty Flores, ­­­­Support Services coordinator. “Students make sacrifices to better their family, and this can be a difficult financial time for them. We believe their children should still get to experience the joy of opening a gift.”