Author Archives: Amanda Sotelo Sotelo

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.”

Student Success Profile – Omar Reyes

(HARLINGEN) – Omar ReyesOmar Reyes is working toward an associate degree at Texas State Technical College in Computer Systems Management Technology. The Raymondville native is expected to graduate in Fall 2018.

When the 19-year-old is not studying or completing lab assignments, he is employed as a work study in the TSTC Talent Management and Career Services office and volunteers with the Intramural Sports Club.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I hope to start working as a computer maintenance technician and save enough money to continue my education and get a bachelor’s degree.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to someday work as an information technology technician with Apple or Samsung.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment while at TSTC has been receiving my very first job as a work study on campus. Plus, as a student it’s convenient to work and study at the same place.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned about myself is my ability to be a leader and have a passion for helping others. I discovered this about myself in my classes because instructors look to me to help other students. Also, in group projects I usually take the lead.

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

My instructor Jesus Herrera has had the greatest influence on my success. I have had him as an instructor every semester and he is always willing to lend a helping hand and answer all of my questions. He is also always willing to share his knowledge and experience with us.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is don’t be afraid to ask for help from others. There is no shame in asking and there are no dumb questions.

TSTC Graduates First Heavy-Duty Diesel Engine Specialist Class

First Heavy Duty Diesel Engine Grads

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College’s Continuing Education Heavy-Duty Diesel Engine Specialist program recently graduated its first group of students.

The four men earned a certification of completion giving them the opportunity to work as diesel engine technicians. They have already found employment with PetroChem Transport, H-E-B, Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District and Ryder Truck Rentals, respectively.

Texas Workforce Solutions Cameron also donated a toolbox and tools to each graduate to use in their new careers.

The graduates are (left to right):  Joseph Wright, David Colunga, Juan Velez and Hector Garibay.

TSTC Food Drive Benefits Students Year-Round

(HARLINGEN) – More than 80 percent of Texas State Technical College students living in housing on the Harlingen campus have been helped by the TSTC Staff Senate food drive since November.

Participation by TSTC staff, faculty, students and the surrounding communities has made the annual drive a success in helping to fight hunger.

“We are so thankful for the help we have received so far,” said Staff Senate President Sharon Foster. “There is no need for a student to struggle with hunger.”

The drive has benefited TSTC’s Charlie’s Pantry, which serves students living on campus, and the Student Center Pantry, which serves students who commute to campus.

Both pantries rely exclusively on donations of food and money received during the drive. Before the drive, both pantries were struggling to keep food in stock.

TSTC Housing Director Yvette Garza said the help they have received from the Staff Senate food drive is appreciated by those running the pantry and the students it serves.TSTC Charlie's Pantry

“We have been able to keep our shelves stocked because of the generosity of the campus and local community,” said Garza. “We all need a little help every now and then, and these students are working so hard to complete their education. If our pantry can help take a small burden off of their shoulders, then we have fulfilled our purpose.”

TSTC Executive Director of Student Life Adele Clinton and Student Life Coordinators Belinda Palomino and Larissa Moreno are also very thankful to the Staff Senate and community members for their donations.

“Student Life and Engagement would like to give a big ‘thank you’ to all those who contributed to the food drive,” said Moreno. “With an average of more than 100 students seen each week, every item donated was stocked and received by our students. Thank you, Staff Senate, TSTC employees and community members, for your continued support.”

Winter Texan Debra Bates, a resident of both Harlingen and Colorado, donated numerous bags of groceries for the drive after reading about TSTC’s previous food drive in the Valley Morning Star.

“My first grandson recently started college. If he was hungry, I would want someone to help him,” she said. “Students have enough to worry about without having to worry about food and being hungry, and it’s awesome that donations like mine are helping these students.”

Monetary donations totaling more than $200 have been made by community members.

“With our efforts we are trying to take care of our students and alleviate their hunger,” said Foster. “We’re here to help them succeed and not have to decide between food, tuition or books.”

Recently Charlie’s Pantry was able to obtain a large freezer to store more foods such as TV dinners.

The hunger problem is not unique to colleges in South Texas. In a study done by Wisconsin HOPE Lab and Feeding America, 50 percent of college students nationwide struggle with not having enough food, with the majority clustered in the low-income, first-generation sector.

Foster added that the students’ needs are such that the food drive will be extended into TSTC’s Spring 2018 semester, although donations are accepted year-round.

The TSTC Staff Senate accepts both food and monetary donations. For more information, call 956-364-4023.

TSTC HVAC Students Graduates to a Brighter Future

(FORT BEND) – Graduating, and doing so with honors, was the last thing Zach Guthrie ever expected to happen.

But on December 14 the 25-year-old put on his black cap and gown and excitedly received his certificate in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technology during Texas State Technical College’s Commencement Ceremony at the Rosenberg Civic Center.

“My whole life school wasn’t for me,” he said. “I didn’t even know what I wanted to study, until TSTC came into town and then things changed.”

Guthrie has now joined an alumni network that is more than 100,000 strong.

Before TSTC, the Houston native enrolled at Wharton County Junior College and soon realized that a traditional classroom with the study of theory was not for him.

“That’s not the way I learn. I am a hands-on learner,” he said. “TSTC matched my learning style.”

The Houston native first heard about TSTC when his mother, TSTC Enrollment Specialist Melanie Pruett, began working at the college.TSTC graduate Zach Guthrie

It was after learning about the programs and doing some research that Guthrie decided to enroll in HVAC Technology.

“My dad has worked in the HVAC business for a good 30 years of his life,” said Guthrie. “Now with this certificate and the skills I have gained I can follow in his footsteps.”

Throughout his educational journey Guthrie worked late nights with United Parcel Service (UPS) and attended class during the day, which made it challenging for him to complete the program.

“I went through some rough patches, but the instructors and staff at TSTC and my family kept pushing me and encouraging me. I couldn’t have done it without their understanding and support,” he said. “They all deserve a big thank you.”

Commencement speaker Michael Dobert, owner/principal of human resource consulting firm HR in Alignment LLC and TSTC Welding Continuing Education student had a special message for graduates like Guthrie.

“Continue to learn, never stop. Be a leader in all you do by empowering and encouraging others,” said Dobert. “Finally, give more than you receive and you’ll get back more than you could ever imagine.”

He also reminded students that success out in the field is not only about technical skills, but also soft skills such as leadership, professionalism, work ethic and entrepreneurship.

“Always remember that your technical skills are just as important as your soft skills,” he told the graduates. “TSTC has provided you the educational opportunities you need for a successful career path and now the rest is up to you.”

Other speakers who shared remarks during the ceremony included TSTC Provost Randy Wooten, TSTC Field Development Officer John Kennedy and TSTC Regent Joe Gurecky.

For Guthrie and his fellow graduates, the end of this chapter means a new one begins and he hopes to find employment with local HVAC companies like Custom Comfort Air or Trane Heating and AC.

“TSTC has given me something to look forward to. I’m excited about my future now,” said Guthrie. “I’m ready to enter the workforce and use the skills I have gained, slowly move up the ladder and continue my education at TSTC for my associate degree.”

For more information on TSTC programs, to apply or register, visit

The deadline for Spring 2018 registration is January 2.

Student Success Profile – Michelle Gibson

(HARLINGEN) – Michelle GibsonMichelle Gibson is a Biology student at Texas State Technical College. The 29-year-old, single mother expects to earn her associate degree in Summer 2018 after serving nearly five years in the United States Navy as a mechanic.

The Los Fresnos native said she has a passion for the medical field and is already a certified medical assistant and hopes to continue growing at TSTC.

Gibson is also the Treasurer for the Veteran Students Alliance Club and participates in community service events with the club.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan on returning to TSTC to apply for the Surgical Technology program and receive my second associate degree.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become a surgical technician and work alongside surgeons in the operating room and maybe someday work in a medical lab doing research on blood samples and diseases.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

I’ve always been a really shy person, so my greatest accomplishment so far at TSTC is becoming treasurer of the Veteran Students Alliance Club and making a difference in the community and making lifelong friends who encourage me every day.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

Although I have learned a lot in my 29 years, I feel that with life’s unpredictability I am learning new things every day, even as a mother. I just keep an open mind, go with the flow and learn along the way. There are no right answers in life.

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

There are a couple of people who have really made a difference. The first one is TSTC Psychology Instructor Frank Coronado. I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression and as a veteran himself he has helped me understand my condition so I can better control it  and succeed in the classroom. Second, is Jose Villegas. He has been my guide from the beginning. He helps me complete all of my benefits paper work and is always there to lend a hand or a listening ear.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to always keep going and work to better yourself. No matter how hard the journey gets, keep going and don’t doubt yourself. Believing in yourself is the first step toward success.