Author Archives: Amanda Sotelo Sotelo

TSTC, TWC partnership provides manufacturing training for local companies

(HARLINGEN) – Michael Durant, a mechatronics tool and die maker at AdTech Plastic Technology in Harlingen has not been in a classroom since the 1980’s, but thanks to a partnership between Texas State Technical College and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) he is back and ready to learn.

“I love learning. You’re never too old to learn,” said the 49-year-old sitting in industrial math. “It feels great to be back and I’m excited for this opportunity.”

Durant and others from Fox Valley Molding and Aloe Laboratories in Harlingen and Sauceda’s Precision Grinding in San Benito make up a Harlingen Consortium that was recently awarded a $155,721 Skills Development Fund Grant for a full year of training.

TSTC’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education Executive Director Isidro Ramos said training provided by the TWC is crucial for companies, especially those with less than 100 employees.

“Technology is constantly evolving and it’s important for companies to keep their employees up to date,” said Ramos. “It’s a competitive industry and to remain competitive and keep production high, training is a priority.”

David Blackburn, Fox Valley Molding general manager, who has participated in other TSTC trainings in the past, said continual training is crucial. He will be sending various employees from the tool shop and maintenance to TSTC.TSTC & TWC Harlingen Consortium Training

“We’ve always had a great experience with TSTC. It’s always a great learning experience for my employees,” said Blackburn. “So when this opportunity became available, we couldn’t pass it up.”

“I’ve personally seen skill sets improve, employees gain a better scope and understanding of their work and our production increase,” he added. “So I’m looking forward to seeing what we’ll gain at the end of this training.”

Employees from the four companies that make up the consortium began training this month and will take classes such as basic blueprint reading, industrial math, basic supervision, programmable logic controls and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10.

All training is customized to the companies’ needs and will be performed at TSTC and on-site.

Nathan Hernandez, a toolmaker apprentice at Fox Valley Molding, sat in Industrial Math with Durant, and as a TSTC Precision Machining Technology grad, being in the classroom was déjà vu.

“Knowing that my professional development is important and being given this opportunity is appreciated,” said the TSTC alum. “I’m hoping to learn as much as I can and I look forward to implementing what I learn into my daily work.”

As for Durant, who has been in the industry nearly three decades, he is excited to learn about new technologies and techniques.

“I’m just hoping to come out smarter than I came in,” he said with a laugh. “But in all seriousness, a lot has changed in our field, and new technology is introduced constantly, so I’m hoping to get myself up to speed on a lot of it with this training.”

TSTC has hosted other consortium trainings in the past thanks to Skill Development Fund Grants from the TWC with local manufacturing companies such as Saint-Gobain, Prism, Rich Products and Portage Plastics.

“Employers look forward to these trainings,” said Ramos. “This partnership is way for us to enhance our manufacturing industry and economic development, while providing quality training, which is our forte.”

For more information on the courses and services offered by TSTC’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education, call 956-364-4590 or visit

Student Success Profile – Christopher Martinez

(HARLINGEN) – Christopher MartinezChristopher Martinez is pursuing a certificate from Texas State Technical College in Vocational Nursing. The Harlingen native, who holds a 3.5 grade-point average, expects to graduate in Summer 2019.

The 26-year-old said nursing is something he has wanted to do since he was a child because it allows him to help others and                                                                                                   make a difference in lives.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I hope to find a job in my field and return to TSTC to pursue registered nursing and earn my associate degree.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become a traveling nurse, working in different hospitals in different parts of the country, and working in either an emergency room or cardiology department.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment while at TSTC has been maintaining my GPA in a program well known for its challenging and competitive nature.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is that I am my own worst critic. I’ve learned to not be so hard on myself and be more confident in what I do.

Who at TSTC has influenced your success the most?

I cannot just name one person, everyone in advisement and the vocational nursing program has influenced my success. Advisement was my stepping stone into this college and advisors have never led me wrong and I admire the experience and knowledge of the faculty in my program.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to be dedicated to your chosen career and path. This will take you a long way.

TSTC agriculture program welcomes PhD researcher to the team

(HARLINGEN) – Growing up in Egypt, Dr. Sheren Elsayed Farag remembers she dreamt of being a plant scientist and she was determined, no matter what, to make it happen.

Today, Farag is the newest Agricultural Technology instructor at Texas State Technical College and brings more than a decade of agriculture engineering and technology experience to the classroom.

“I was inspired by a teacher I had when I was small. He would take us to fields around our school to study the crops and soil,” said Farag. “And now I want to inspire other students who also want to pursue the same career path.”

The 32-year-old said she is excited to be at TSTC and cannot wait to begin implementing technologies used in agriculture.

“There are so many new technologies in agriculture that help make the job faster and more efficient,” said Farag, as she set up the program’s latest drone. “And to make our students more marketable and competitive when looking for jobs, they need to have knowledge and training in this technology.”

Farag’s first step in her mission is to implement drones in her curriculum.

The program has a total of five drones, four are consumer standard easy-to-fly drones for aerial photography and the other is a Multispectral Imaging Drone, popular to the agriculture field, to manage crops, soil, fertilizing and irrigation more effectively.Dr. Sheren Farag Agriculture Technology instructor

“Drones are the most utilized and popular technology in our field. And not many people are trained to use them,” she said. “So our students will be ahead of the game and this specialized training will improve their job outlook.”

Farag knows all too well the competitive nature of the industry and the types of opportunities students can have access to with this type of training.

Farag earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Alexandria University in Egypt in Soil and Water Science and Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition in 2006 and 2008 respectively.

She went on to earn her second master’s degree and doctoral degree in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Seville in Spain in 2011 and 2014.

Farag also holds a post graduate diploma in Integrated Planning for Rural Development and Environmental Management from the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies.

“I have faced a lot of bias as a woman entering a male-dominated career,” said Farag. “It hasn’t always been easy, I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish and I hope to get more women interested in pursuing a career in agriculture.”

And Farag should be very proud. She received a couple of prestigious fellowships in her field from the Spanish National Research Council in partnership with Junta para la Ampliación de Estudios and from the International Fellowship from American Association of University Women, she was the only doctoral candidate selected.

It was the American Association of University Women that helped her get to the United States in 2016 and work as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Weslaco, beginning her extended stay in the states.

Sammy Gavito, TSTC state lead and instructor for Agricultural Technology, said Farag’s knowledge in agriculture, soils, soil fertility and irrigation is impressive.

“She brings great knowledge in precision agriculture,” said Gavito. “In particular, she brings great knowledge in global positioning systems (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS) and the ability to teach drone technology to our students. And new technology is the direction our agriculture program is going.”

Before coming to the U.S., Farag also worked with a fertilization company developing new fertilizers, as a researcher monitoring irrigation, fruit trees, soil, water and managing plant development in Egypt and Spain.

And for four months, Farag spent time at Texas A&M-Kingsville as a plant physiologist controlling irrigation using meters and sensors.

“I’ve had so many great opportunities throughout my career,” said Farag. “And although bias, beliefs and prejudice in my home country were big obstacles for me, I’ve always kept my eye on my goals and focused on positivity to overcome it.”

Farag who knows multiple languages,  English, French, Arabic and Spanish, enjoys travelling, especially back to Egypt where her family stayed and said although she misses them she’s ready for her new adventure at TSTC.

“All I want is to help make a big difference in students’ lives and make them aware of the research, opportunities and growth that the agriculture industry has to offer,” she said.

For more information on TSTC’s Agricultural Technology, visit

TSTC grad, Needville native made childhood dream come true

(FORT BEND) – Grant Siebrecht knew he wanted to become a diesel mechanic, but with pressure from his family to attend a four-year university he thought his dream was impossible, until Texas State Technical College opened up in his community.

“TSTC had great timing,” said Siebrecht. “It had everything I was looking for in a college and because of it, I am now doing what I love.”

The Needville native was a new high school graduate in 2016, the same year TSTC in Fort Bend County opened its doors, and much to his surprise, Diesel Equipment Technology was an offered technical program.

“I went through some disapproval from some family members because it was a technical school,” said Siebrecht. “But I knew a four-year degree wasn’t for me. I needed to work with my hands and this place had it all.”

With support from his grandfather from the get-go, Siebrecht received emotional and financial support from him, with the rest of the family following suit when they realized how happy and how much Siebrecht was achieving.

“I used to watch my dad work on cars and trucks as a hobby. It was fascinating and I knew that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up,” he said. “And without the support from my grandfather and family, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”Grant Siebrecht

In fact, Siebrecht loves mechanics so much he took a part-time job while in high school at a local mechanic shop, the same place his family would take their car when it needed repairs.

“This was a great experience for me as a high school student. It laid out my foundation in the industry,” he said. “And attending TSTC just took it to another level for me.”

The 21-year-old was among the program’s first cohort to graduate in 2017. And with honors, a certificate in Diesel Equipment Technology, a 3.7 grade-point average and a job offer in hand, Siebrecht was ready to face the world.

“TSTC was a great place of learning for me. All of the hands-on training and knowledgeable faculty made my experience there worth my while,” said Siebrecht. “My classmates and I learned so much and the student life was great. Everyone was so nice and welcoming.”

Siebrecht credits TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology Instructor Spencer Paige for much of his success because of his knowledge, patience and experience.

“Spencer was great. With his teaching, training and letter of recommendation, I got a job before I even graduated. Not many people can say that about their college,” he said.

Siebrecht started his career at Hlavinka Equipment Company in Rosenberg as a diesel technician and has now been there for a year and half.

“I work on off-road equipment and tractors, have a steady paycheck and benefits,” he said. “What more could a guy ask for?”

Hlavinka Equipment Service Manager Chris Hallman said he knew from the moment he met Siebrecht that he was a great hire.

“I could tell that this was a young man who wanted this position and who actually had a passion to work in this industry. This is what set him apart from other candidates,” said Hallman. “And of course knowing that he received his training at TSTC was an added plus.”

Hallman added, “He is a solid worker, not afraid to get his hands dirty and get the job done and has a concern for safety. He is definitely a great asset to our company.”

Siebrecht said he will be visiting TSTC again soon because he plans on beginning the path toward an associate degree in Spring 2019 because he has bigger dreams he is working toward.

“I hope to someday own a diesel shop and work on diesel truck performance and heavy equipment,” said Siebrecht. “I’m a turn-the-wrench type of guy and I have to continue my education and getting experience to make this happen.”

Diesel Equipment Technology is offered at TSTC’s Fort Bend County, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater and Waco campuses.

For more information Diesel Equipment Technology, visit

Student Success Profile – Julyssa Balderas

(HARLINGEN) – Julyssa BalderasJulyssa Balderas, 19, is a Business Management Technology student at Texas State Technical College and expects to earn her associate degree in Fall 2019.

When not in the classroom or the library studying, the Harlingen native is a work study at the TSTC Advisement Center and said it has been a very rewarding job being able to help fellow students.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate with my associate degree I plan on transferring to the University of Texas at San Antonio to pursue a bachelor’s degree in General Business.

What’s your dream job?

TSTC has helped me find my passion and my dream career. I hope to someday work in and manage the finance department of a large company in a big city.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment while at TSTC has been being hired at the TSTC Advisement Center. I love having the opportunity of helping other students and the way the team here motivates me to put myself out there and not be shy.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is to always face your challenges head on. No matter how tough life gets, we have to keep moving forward.

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

Everyone at the advisement center is great, but my supervisor Alysse Prepejchal has helped me the most. She has helped me grow professionally and personally. She is always there to give sound advice and to motivate me to try something new outside of my comfort zone.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to enjoy every moment spent at TSTC because the college offers students every opportunity possible to achieve academic success and make new friends.

TSTC Agricultural Technology presented with scholarship donation

(HARLINGEN) – What do the Harlingen Cotton Committee and the late Ruben Vela’s former drummer have in common? A passion for agriculture.

On Thursday night, during the annual Harlingen Cotton Committee 2018 First Bale of Cotton Auction and Scholarship Fundraiser, Juan Martinez, former drummer for the late conjunto and accordion legend and 13 other Agricultural Technology students at Texas State Technical College were presented with a $15,000 check, which was matched dollar-for-dollar by the Lozano-Long Foundation, bringing the total to $30,000 for scholarships.

The funds were divided equally among the 14 students.

“After spending 10 years in the music industry and as a Valley music teacher, this career change has come with its challenges; mainly financial,” said Martinez. “So this money is going to help me put gas in my car, help earn my associate degree and continue what my grandfather started.”

Martinez grew up in Santa Rosa, working farms with his grandfather planting different crops such as sugarcane, cotton and vegetables. But his career path instead followed his father’s who was the lead singer for Vela.TSTC Harlingen Cotton Committee Check Presentation

“I still love music, but after my grandfather passed away a couple of months I wanted to honor him, and this is how I’m doing it,” said Martinez. “I thank TSTC and the Harlingen Cotton Committee for allowing me this opportunity.”

Sam Simmons Jr., Cotton Committee chairman, said the organization’s ultimate goal is to help students like Martinez pursue an education in a field where the number of farmers is decreasing annually.

“We want to empower students to better their lives,” said Simmons. “And we hope that every student we touch can lead a successful career in Agriculture. We need them.”

The partnership between the Harlingen Cotton Committee and TSTC began in 2011. Since the organization’s first recorded donation, the funds provided for scholarships has grown along with the partnership.

To date the organization has donated more than $60,000 to TSTC.

“The Harlingen Cotton Committee do so much for the agriculture community in the Rio Grande Valley, including for our students here at TSTC,” said Amy Lynch, TSTC senior field development officer. “They care so much about agricultural education and ensuring that students have the resources they need to make their dreams a reality. It’s amazing.”

And making their dreams a reality is something that Martinez, who completed an internship with Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Weslaco and was immediately hired on; and Samantha Mendoza, also a TSTC Agricultural Technology student, are familiar with.

“I’m graduating next semester and I will transfer to Texas A&M-Kingsville to pursue a degree in pre-veterinary medicine,” said Mendoza. “And all of this is possible because of TSTC, its instructors and the money I have just received from the Harlingen Cotton Committee.”

“I struggle financially and this has brought such a huge relief. I’ll be able to focus on getting to the finish line,” she added.

TSTC Agricultural Technology Department State Lead and Instructor Sam Gavito said he is overwhelmed and overjoyed by the organization’s generosity to his students and program.

“There are no words to describe how appreciative I am for the help our students are getting,” said Gavito. “Every student here is worthy of this scholarship. They have proven their academic success and I can’t wait to see what else they can achieve with this help.”

Gavito added, “This is an amazing event. I send a huge thank you to everyone.”

All proceeds from the 2018 First Bale of Cotton Auction and Scholarship Fundraiser benefit the committee and Algodon Club of Harlingen Scholarship Fund.

“This donation is life-changing for many of our students,” TSTC Provost Cledia Hernandez. “That one tank of gas can mean the difference between graduating or dropping out and this organization understand that.”

“They are friends of TSTC,” Hernandez added. “The impact they have on our TSTC students is amazing. Tremendous.”

For more information on TSTC Agricultural Technology, visit

TSTC uses TWC grant to help small businesses in the community

(HARLINGEN) – Workforce Development and Continuing Education at Texas State Technical College are working with local small businesses in Cameron County to help them have the trained personnel they need, thanks to Skills for Small Business grants awarded by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

“TSTC and the TWC are working together on a small-business initiative to ensure that, like larger industries, they have a trained workforce,” said Isidro Ramos, executive director for TSTC Workforce Training and Continuing Education. “Our community is made up of small businesses, and it is our responsibility to provide them with the resources they need.”

TSTC’s Continuing Education Department received $156,000 for 2019 to use for professional training and development among small businesses.

“Most of the time, small businesses have limited resources and training is not in their budget,” said Ramos.  “But with this grant, they’re able to get their employees the training they need. We can’t forget about our small businesses.”

TSTC has been conducting this training since 2016 and helped more than a dozen small businesses.TSTC Continuing Ed.

Small-business employers are able to apply for the training every year, but they must be able to pay the prevailing wages in the local labor market for the trainees funded under the grant.

“There is an application process, but most small businesses qualify,” said Ramos. “These trainings help make a business more effective, efficient, competitive in their niche market, and innovative. We encourage everyone to apply and take advantage of the resource.”

Courses offered through the grant range from leadership in customer service and communication skills to beginner, intermediate and advanced Microsoft Office and QuickBooks trainings to marketing and basic supervision.

There are nearly 20 courses offered.

For Victoria Barrientos, billing officer and certified mastectomy fitter for MediForce in Harlingen, the QuickBooks trainings she completed through TSTC will help her and the business she works for advance in the way they use the software program.

“We use QuickBooks every day, and there were still features of the program we had no idea existed,” she said. “This course taught us how we can use QuickBooks to help us work smarter, not harder.”

Barrientos, who has been with the company for 10 years, and four others from the company recently completed the QuickBooks beginner and intermediate courses.

“This was a great learning experience all around, and I can’t wait to implement what we learned,” said Barrientos. “We want to work on using QuickBooks not only for retail and services, but now for quotes, reporting and inventory since becoming aware of these features in our courses.”

Laura Alvarez, a clerk for the construction department at Harlingen Glass & Mirror who has only been with the company for three months, jumped at the opportunity to take a QuickBooks training course.

“I had no QuickBooks knowledge prior to this training,” said Alvarez. “I’m 61 years old and thought I couldn’t learn anything new, but the learning experience and hands-on training made understanding easier, and now I’m ready to use this knowledge at work.”

Osvaldo Sosa, president and owner of Harlingen Glass & Mirror,  said professional development is something he encourages all of his employees to pursue.

“I am pleased that TSTC is offering this type of resource,” said Sosa. “This gives me the skilled employees I need and my employees the confidence they need in themselves to do their job well and work with customers. It’s like I always tell them: education cannot be taken away from you.”

TSTC’s Waco and Fort Bend County campuses also received a Skills for Small Business Grant for training within their communities.

For more information on Workforce Development and Continuing Education at TSTC, call 956-364-4590 or visit

Student Success Profile – Estefany Ruiz

(HARLINGEN) – Estefany RuizEstefany Ruiz earned her associate degree from Texas State Technical College in Biology during Spring 2018, but she is back studying Engineering and expects to finish this semester.

The 21-year-old Alamo native holds an impressive 3.5 grade-point average and works with the Office of Student Success as an English tutor.

What your plans after graduation?

I am currently a student at TSTC and enrolled at Texas A&M University-Kingsville where I’m studying Chemical Engineering. However, I have just been accepted into the Medicinal Plant Chemistry program at Northern Michigan University, so I’m looking at possibly transferring there.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become a medicinal chemist and to own a company where I can research and manufacture medicines.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment while at TSTC has been developing my passion for chemistry. In high school, even though I liked the subject, it was not my forte. I have to credit my instructors for helping me find my passion. If not for their advice, helping hand and caring nature I would not be pursuing this career today.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is to believe in yourself and have a positive mindset and attitude. Having both of these attributes will help a person achieve whatever goal they have in mind; there’s no stopping.

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

The person who has had the most influence on my success is my organic chemistry instructor Everardo Villarreal. He believes in all of his students, more than we believe in ourselves. He believes in us so much that even we can’t doubt ourselves.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to make concise decision about your education and your future, stay positive no matter what and find like-minded people who have similar goals as yours.

TSTC Surgical Technology alum leads successful career

(HARLINGEN) – From homeless to a six-figure salary, Texas State Technical College Surgical Technology graduate David Flores accomplished what he set out to do – turn his life around.

The Donna native graduated from TSTC with a certificate in 1997 and with several job offers.

“I grew up very poor. We didn’t have much, but I always had my dream,” said Flores. “And this is what kept me motivated and determined. I knew I had to change my way of life. I needed to break the poverty cycle for my family.”

The 41-year-old is now a Certified Surgical First Assistant at Rio Grande Regional Hospital in McAllen, where he started as a surgical assistant immediately after college.

He has been with the hospital for 22 years and has seen raises and promotions he never expected; but it was not easy getting to where he is today.

Surgical Technology - David Flores

At the beginning of the Surgical Technology program, Flores and his family were homeless and living in a warehouse where his dad worked for little money.


Because his family could not afford even the basic needs, Flores did not have transportation to class and instead had to rely on fellow students for a ride.

“People always asked me why I remained so positive and motivated despite my struggles, but honestly it was my struggles that kept me going,” said Flores. “I grew up with practically nothing, yet I felt I had the most to lose. I had no choice except to succeed.”

Since then, Flores has made a name for himself in the healthcare community working with various surgeons, physicians and hospital directors around the Rio Grande Valley.

He is one of the first doctors call to assist with cases and surgeries. He was even one of the first from his hospital to be recommended for a nine-month surgical first assistant certification course, which he completed successfully.

“Without TSTC and the support from my instructor Robert Sanchez and the rest of his team, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said. “This program (Surgical Technology) has opened so many doors of opportunity for me. I feel like everything has fallen into place.”  

Flores has come a long way from the high school student who knew what he wanted to do, but had no idea how to make his dream a reality.

“I had no idea in high school how to become a surgical technician, I didn’t even know what the job title would be,” Flores reminisced. “And I didn’t know where I would go to school.”

Flores remembers teachers and counselors pushing him to be a nurse and advising him that’s the only way he would make his dream come true, but deep down that is not what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“It was not until a college fair during my senior year that I began to feel discouraged,” he said. “No one had my program, then there she was, a TSTC representative who told me about Surgical Technology.”

Flores does not recall the TSTC representative’s name, but said because of her, he enrolled at TSTC before even graduating from high school. While his friends were enjoying their summer, he began the journey toward his new career.

His career has led him not only to Rio Grande Regional, but also as a contracted surgical first assistant for doctors across the Valley and to Guatemala, where he has done two years of missionary work providing free medical and surgery services to those less fortunate.

From passing tools to his father while he repaired cars to passing tools to surgeons while they operate, Flores said he has come full circle, and it’s his father who serves as his inspiration.

“The success I have found is because of my father and my family,” he said. “They motivated me through school and encouraged me to believe in myself and my skills. They worked hard so I could live my dream. Everything I am I owe to them.”

Flores has also worked closely with TSTC’s Senior Surgical Technology Instructor Anna San Pedro in initiating a preceptor program, which assigns students to mentors, sits on the TSTC Surgical Technology advisory board and has been named TSTC’s Preceptor of the Year for two years.

“I love being able to give back to the college that gave me so much,” said Flores. “I always tell students that this career is rewarding, can give them so many opportunities if they put the work into it and that we have lives in our hands so it’s important to continue learning even after we graduate.”

For more information on Surgical Technology, visit

TSTC Computer Networking & Security Technology named Center of Excellence

(HARLINGEN) – Computer Networking and Security Technology at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen is celebrating a unique national distinction. The program was recently named a Center of Excellence for Cyber Defense for two-year education programs by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Security Agency (NSA).

“With this distinction we are joining an elite group of colleges and universities across the country,” said Norma Colunga-Hernandez, program associate professor. “Not just any program receives this honor and it proves that our faculty are doing everything to provide the industry with highly-skilled professionals when they graduate from our program.”

The National Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Defense was created to recognize and grant designations to institutions that offer rigorous degree programs in information security.

“Your ability to meet the increasing demands of the program criteria will serve the nation well in contributing to the protection of the National Information Infrastructure,” Karen Leuschner, National CAE Cyber Defense program director stated in a letter to TSTC. “There is a shortage of cyber security professionals and higher education is the solution to defending America’s cyberspace.”Computer Networking & Security Technology

To receive the designation, which runs through academic year 2023, TSTC’s Computer Networking and Security Technology program had to meet numerous criteria such as the program’s curriculum had to be approved by the CAE selection board; the institution must have a networking security plan in place; program faculty must have all necessary cyber security certifications; student enrolled in the program need to practice cyber security skills outside of the classroom; credits must be transferable to a four-year institution and the program must practice community outreach.

“The application process was long, but well worth it. Even our curriculum received great reviews,” said Hernandez. “But we had so much support from our leadership and others on campus, it was invaluable and we couldn’t have done it without them.”

TSTC in Harlingen Provost Cledia Hernandez said this is a great honor for the program and the college.

“We are honored by this designation,” said Cledia. “We have amazing faculty that have worked so hard to meet the rigorous application process.”

The program’s graduating class of Spring 2019 will be the first to earn an associate degree and a certificate from the NSA and DHS, a recognition only a handful of students who graduate from a center of excellence receive across the United States.

According to Hernandez, students who receive the NSA and DHS recognition are more marketable in industry and are more likely to receive higher paying jobs within prestigious organizations.

“This designation fits with our mission. Here at TSTC we strive to make our students more marketable and this designation will allow them to be more competitive and have an edge in the labor market,” said Cledia.

The demand for skilled Cyber Security professionals is expected to increase by 2021 with at least 3.5 million positions unfilled according to a February 2018 cyber security job report from Cybersecurity Ventures.

“We’re preparing our students for jobs such as network and computer systems administrators, computer network architects and information security analysts,” said Hernandez. “And with federal jobs on the rise, there is no doubt our students will have plenty of opportunities.”

To learn more about Computer Networking and Security Technology, visit