Author Archives: Amanda Sotelo Sotelo

TSTC Hosts Annual Counselor Update

(HARLINGEN) – Rosa Vasquez, a counselor at San Benito High School walked the halls of Texas State Technical College for a tour of the campus and its programs on Thursday morning during the college’s annual Counselor Update.

She joined more than 100 other counselors from across the Rio Grande Valley at TSTC’s Cultural Arts Center for a half-day program that focuses on the technologies and services TSTC offers.

“The tours were great, so interesting,” said Vasquez. “I like that TSTC is so student-oriented and interested in their success.”

Director of Recruitment Dora Colvin said the Counselor Update is hosted as a thank you to the counselors for everything they do for their students and the college.

“These counselors collaborate with us yearly in helping students with everything that comes with applying for college,” said Colvin. “They do a lot and we appreciate them.”

Thursday morning’s tour consisted of visits with instructors and students from programs such as Precision Manufacturing Technology, Agricultural Technology, Building Construction Technology, Biomedical Equipment Technology, Health Information Technology and Aircraft Airframe Technology.TSTC Counselor Update Campus Tour

In addition to the tour, TSTC’s Enrollment, Admission and Financial Aid representatives were on hand to give counselors updates on application and deadline changes.

Other activities included a student learning overview, a lunch catered by TSTC’s Culinary Arts students and alumni success stories.

Counselors also heard from three TSTC alumni including Kimberly Deleon, TSTC Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics graduate and teaching lab assistant.

First-generation college graduate Deleon shared that she graduated with her associate degree in 2012 and got a job in her field in Waco, before returning home and accepting a job offer at TSTC.

Deleon also let the counselors know that figuring out her passion and deciding what she wanted to do for the rest of her life did not come easy, but because of TSTC she found her future. And because of her positive experience, the college has become a family affair with all four of her sisters attending/graduating from TSTC.

“I’m so grateful to TSTC for all that they have contributed in my life,” Deleon explained. “The teachers, the staff and the various departments made it possible for me to not only discover my dream, but to execute it and succeed.”

San Benito High School Counselor Lora Jallomo-Garza said she found the alumni to be inspiring and will share their stories with her students.

“I really enjoyed the student success stories,” said Garza. “TSTC not only helps educate students, but it also helps them find success.”

Overall, Vasquez and Garza said the day was productive and informational. They would like to thank TSTC for the warm welcome and they look forward to continue their work with TSTC.

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

TSTC Will Host First RGV Texas Writers Exhibit

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College will host, for the first time in South Texas, the Texas Writers Exhibit thanks to a $1,000 grant they recently received from Humanities Texas.

The exhibition produced by Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, will be set up as part of the college’s third annual Humanities Symposium at TSTC’s J. Gilbert Leal Learning Resource Center from October 23 – November 17 and is open to the public.

This is the first time TSTC’s campus in Harlingen has received this grant.

Visitors will get to see, in a series of panels, portraits of authors, books, workplaces, narrative settings and quotes that all evoke a strong image, memory or feeling.

Kirk added that the goal of the exhibition is to generate in visitors a new awareness and appreciation for Texas literature and the American and Mexican authors that have contributed to the humanities and arts.TSTC Writers Exhibit

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to partner with Humanities Texas and bring this exhibit to our TSTC students and the Rio Grande Valley,” said Kirk. “The exhibit helps us support and sustain the humanities and art efforts already in place.”

To coincide with the exhibit, local writers will be on campus to present their literary work and engage with students and the community.

University of Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Professor of Communications Dr. William Strong will kick off the opening reception on October 23 for the Texas Writers Exhibit with a presentation on the contributions of Texas writers and how these stories inspired his Stories from Texas series.

Throughout the week TSTC will also welcome UTRGV Professor Emeritus in History Dr. Manuel Medrano with the Life and Writings of Americo Paredes on October 24, and Professor in Creative Writing Dr. Elvia Aldalani, with Christianity and Islam in Poetry: An Intersection of Cultures on October 26.

There will also be two local writer panel presentations on October 23 and 24 where writers will read samples of their works and discuss influences on the development of their stories.

“As an educational institution it is important that we provide opportunities for local writers to share their work and experiences with our students and community,” said Kirk. “And we’re grateful to have received great support from the TSTC grants office, administration and faculty for this event.”

Kirk said he encourages everyone to come out and enjoy what the Texas Writers Exhibit has to offer and to familiarize themselves with the cross-cultural literature that has shaped the areas of humanities and arts in Texas.

For more information or for a schedule of events call TSTC at 956-364-4758.

Student Profile – Sharon Barlow

(HARLINGEN) – Sharon BarlowSharon Barlow is an Education and Training student at Texas State Technical College and expects to graduate Spring 2018 with her associate degree.

The San Benito native currently boasts a 3.5 grade-point average and is an active member and treasurer of the TSTC Association of Future Educators (TAFE).

The 19-year-old first attended TSTC in high school as a dual enrollment student and said the experience got her one-step ahead in her college career allowing her to earn the majority of her college credits in high school.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate with my associate degree I plan on continuing my education to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to be an elementary teacher. When I was little I would force my little brother to play my student while I played teacher. I’ve always known this is what I wanted to do.

Eventually, I hope to continue my education to work toward becoming a counselor or principal.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment while at TSTC has been joining the TAFE Club and becoming treasurer. Being a member of this organization has opened door of opportunity for me such as reading to children at the Harlingen library or volunteering at Ben Milam Elementary School. Everything I am learning and doing is preparing me for my future.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is patience. Patience is key when working with children and this is an attribute that will get me far in my career.

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

My Education and Training Instructor Mary Hollmann has been my greatest influence. She is so full of energy that it motivates me to keep going and I love that her door is always open for her students. I can count on her help.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice to future TSTC students is to listen to your instructor, they truly want to see you succeed. And stay on top of your coursework and exams. The last thing you want to do is fall behind.

NASA Opens a Universe of Possibility for TSTC Student

(HARLINGEN) – It has been quite a journey for Texas State Technical College student Saul Pizano who was recently selected to be a part of the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars project (NCAS).

The Harlingen native was one of 304 college students from across the United States and the only one from TSTC to be part of the five-week scholars program that culminated with a week at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“The whole experience was mind blowing. Wow!” said Pizano. “I’m so happy that I got the opportunity to do something like this. It has changed the outlook on my future.”Saul Pizano NASA Project

The NCAS is a project funded in part by the Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP) which is committed to engaging underrepresented and underserved students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in authentic learning experiences to sustain a diverse workforce.

“NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, but it also opens doors for future careers at NASA,” said Joeletta Patrick, MUREP manager. “NCAS has a legacy of alumni moving from NASA internships to ultimately entering the NASA workforce. It is rewarding to see.”

Pizano’s experience with NCAS began with a month-long online NASA class where he had to complete research, modules, quizzes, a 10-page essay and design and print a three-dimensional space rover vehicle.

It was his perfect score of 100 percent in the web class and his impressive application that earned him a spot at NASA’s on-site event.

The 22-year-old is already a graduate from TSTC Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics program and is currently pursuing three more associate degrees in mathematics, engineering and physics.

“There is no doubt that everything I have learned and been trained to do at TSTC helped me throughout the NCAS process,” he said.

It was early mornings and late nights for Pizano and the other students participating in this year’s NASA event.

Students formed teams and established fictional companies interested in Mars exploration, developed and tested a prototype rover, managed budgets and created communications and marketing plans.

Saul Pizano and Jerry Woodfill

Pizano was team leader for the Green Engineering and Autonomous Robotics (G.E.A.R.) team, which ended up winning first place for its rover design and development.

“It was great meeting and working with like-minded people,” said Pizano. “The bonds created among us are remarkable. We all arrived as strangers and left as friends.”

NCAS participants also got to speak to NASA experts such as Apollo 11 and 13 NASA Spacecraft Warning System Engineer Jerry Woodfill, and tour the space center’s facilities.

“Before this experience I felt like NASA was out of reach for me,” said Pizano. “But now I’ve been there and I know I’ll be back. I can see my future there.”

Pizano’s NASA mentor has encouraged him to apply for a spring internship with NASA in aerospace mechanics.

“I’m that little boy who got his first telescope at six and now here I am with an opportunity of a lifetime,” he said. “NASA is changing the world every day and because of TSTC I have the opportunity to be a part of that.”

For more information on TSTC and the programs offered, visit

TSTC Receives TWC Grant for Construction-Related Courses

(HARLINGEN) – The Workforce Training and Continuing Education Office at Texas State Technical College recently received a $119, 988 Building Trade Grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

This grant will help train 40 trainees in TSTC’s National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Electrical Level 1 and Construction Level 1 courses.

“The partnership we have with the TWC is great,” said Myra Deleon, TSTC’s Continuing Education project manager. “Their donations help open doors of opportunity for many individuals and families. They help people grow.”

Deleon added that in light of some large construction projects forecast for the South Texas region, such as SpaceX and Texas LNG, this recent donation from TWC allows Workforce Training and Continuing Education to be proactive in assuring that the region has a trained workforce.TSTC Electrical, Construction Courses

“These are the credentials that most large contractors require for their employees,” said Deleon. “They are precursors to an individual looking for a career in the electrical and construction industries.”

NCCER Electrical Level 1 is a 224-hour electrical course that consists of NCCER Core, NCCER Electrical, safety and forklift components and a CPR, automated external defibrillator (AED) and first aid sessions.

Those who enroll in this course can expect to learn the foundation of safety, communication skills and construction drawings to the theory of residential electrical circuits and will become certified in first aid, CPR and AED use.

NCCER Construction Level 1 is a 262-hour course and focuses on the NCCER Core and NCCER Basic Framing, introduction to carpentry and a safety and forklift component. The course will also focus on basic safety, wood frame structures, layout, floors, wall and roofs.

In addition to the electrical wiring and construction training, students will also become forklift- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certified.

Both NCCER credentials are recognized internationally so can be used to work in the United States and abroad.

“Safety is everyone’s number one priority, so the more safety training an employee has the more marketable they are to employers,” said Deleon. “Trainings like these help minimize accidents and get people home to their families at the end of the day.”

The NCCER Electrical and Construction Level 1 courses are held in the evening and open to anyone in or pursuing a career in the industry.

Class tuition and books are generally covered by TWC grants or sponsored by the employer, Workforce Solutions grants and the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation.

The next NCCER session starts October 30 and is still open for enrollment.

For more information on the NCCER curse and tuition sponsors call TSTC Continuing Education at 956-364-4567.

Local Childhood Friends Mark Another Milestone at TSTC

(FORT BEND) – Since kindergarten, the relationship between three childhood friends has withstood the test of time, experiencing nearly every milestone together including college graduation.

Texas State Technical College Welding Technology graduates Israel Grimaldo, Jose Acosta and Carlos Nieto recently earned certificates in their field and celebrating yet another commencement together.

TSTC Graduates

“What are the odds that nearly 18 years later we’re still friends? They’re like my brothers,” said Nieto. “I’m so proud of us and how far we’ve come. We’re making something of ourselves.”

All three friends are Rosenberg natives and have graduated from Bowie Elementary School, B.F. Terry High School and TSTC together.

With nearly everything in common, it came as no surprise to their family and friends when they all chose to pursue welding.

Nieto, who graduated from TSTC with honors and a 3.5 grade-point average began his welding journey his freshmen year of high school.

In fact, all three friends were attracted to the field early on because of the hands-on work and the job opportunities available.

“I love building stuff and working with my hands,” said Nieto. “This is the perfect career for me.”

Acosta, who has two uncles who work in the field, added, “The idea that I can receive an affordable education, get a certificate and get a good job right off the bat is attractive.”

High School Graduation

Nieto said he already bought a welding machine and is doing freelance jobs in repair and maintenance and some construction projects.


In fact, in addition to the hands-on learning they receive at TSTC, all three men have already worked in the field performing odd jobs here and there to help pay for school.

They agree they are fully prepared to tackle the industry, but for one the job hunt came sooner rather than later.

The original plan was for all three men to return to TSTC in the fall to pursue an associate degree and have one more graduation together, but Acosta decided on a different path.

“TSTC was a great choice for me, I think for all of us,” said Acosta. “I’m more than ready to start my career, I don’t want to delay it anymore, and because of the training I received I am fully prepared and confident to do so.”Kindergarten Graduation

Acosta is working for a Houston-based pipe making company as a pipe maker and hopes to someday pursue his associate degree, but said he is happy with his decision to work for now.

As for Nieto and Grimaldo, Hurricane Harvey set back the first day of school by nearly one month, but they are back and ready to graduate together with an associate degree in May one last time.

“Luckily all of our families were okay. We had to evacuate, but we were all blessed that we had our homes to come back to,” said Nieto. “And we’re ready to get back into the swing of things and finish.”

For more information on TSTC Welding Technology visit

TSTC EMS Program Receives National Accreditation

(HARLINGEN) – It has been four years in the making, but the Continuing Education Emergency Medical Service – Paramedic program at Texas State Technical College has been nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) – becoming the only accredited EMS program in Cameron County.

TSTC EMS Program Director and Advanced Coordinator Salvador Acevedo said that with national and state demand at its highest for paramedics, this national recognition gives them a greater opportunity for meeting industry need.

“I’m beyond excited. I’m so proud of the work everyone has done to achieve this recognition,” said Acevedo. “This was a lengthy four-year process and it has been validated.”

In addition to extensive paperwork, the program went through a peer review from CAAHEP’s board of directors and the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions.

With the accreditation in hand, set to take effect January 2018, Acevedo and his team can now offer an associate degree paramedic program, which will mirror the already accredited EMS program offered at TSTC’s Abilene campus.

“We’ve worked closely with the folks in Abilene for guidance with the accreditation process and the curriculum,” said Acevedo. “It’s been a great partnership between programs and now we can offer even more to our students.”TSTC EMS Program

The plan is to combine the EMS program’s emergency medical technician (EMT) and paramedic certificate courses to one EMT-to-paramedic pathway.

The program will be two years long and students will receive training in the EMT basic, intermediate and paramedic fields. Students must successfully complete all coursework, clinical site training and an ambulance practicum to receive credit for the associate degree.

The pathway will also prepare students to take and pass the required National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam, which will allow them to work anywhere in the United States.

“Students who enroll in this program can rest assured that they will be receiving the training they need from a national curriculum to have a successful career,” said Acevedo.

Acevedo added that every instructor, including himself, are seasoned paramedics who still work in the field, either full-time or part-time, ensuring that students in the program will always receive the most up-to-date information on medical protocols, additional certifications and skills used in industry.

TSTC paramedic student Morgan Putbrese earned her EMT certificate in July 2016 and is working toward her paramedic certificate, but said this new accreditation will take her education to the next level.

“With the program now being accredited I have the opportunity to earn my associate degree,” she said. “This is an exciting time for current and future students. This will help people in our field grow and continue their education.”

Once Putbrese completes the additional courses she needs for her associate degree she plans to work locally and give back to her community in the form of health care.

According to Acevedo, TSTC’s EMS program holds a 100 percent job placement rate. Students are either placed locally with companies such as South Texas Emergency Care Foundation (STEC), Med-Care EMS or Willacy County EMS, or elsewhere in the state with centers such as Austin-Travis County EMS.

“We’ve jumped the biggest hurdle and achieved accreditation,” said Acevedo. “The future of our program is bright and we’re looking forward to growing and offering more opportunities to our students.”

For more information on TSTC’s EMS program visit or call 956-364-4739.

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Eli QuinteroEli Quintero, 21, is a recent graduate and current student at Texas State Technical College. He earned his first associate degree in Telecommunications Technology in Summer 2017 and has returned to pursue a second associate degree in Automotive Technology.

When the Los Fresnos native is not studying, he is a work study in the Office of Student Life with the New Student Orientation team and is an active member and treasurer for the Intramural Sports Club on campus.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I want to follow in my dad’s footsteps and work at AT&T. He has had a successful 19-year career in telecommunications and I want that also. Once my career is established I want to continue my education to receive a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to grow in my field and someday be a director and supervise a team. Also, I hope to use my automotive degree to improve in my hobby of collecting and refurbishing classic cars.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

I’m a first-generation college graduate and student, so receiving my first degree has been my biggest accomplishment. I’m the oldest of six siblings and I hope my experiences are showing them that a college education is in reach and possible.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

I have learned that the key to college success, mine at least, is to get involved on campus. The more you are involved the more you learn and know, and the more you know, the more you can accomplish.

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

TSTC Business Management Technology student and Intramural Sports Club President Denice Molina has been my greatest influence. She’s the one who encourages me to be active on campus and study and work hard. She keeps me motivated.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future students is to be active on campus and their communities, meet new people and make new contacts; it helps you grow as a person.

TSTC Hosts First Fall Industry Job Fair

(HARLINGEN) – For the first time Texas State Technical College will be hosting two Industry Job Fairs for TSTC students and alumni – one in the fall and another in the spring.

The first job fair will be held October 26 from 9 a.m. to noon at TSTC’s Cultural Arts Center.

The annual job fair, hosted by TSTC’s Office of Talent Management and Career Services, has been around for at least two decades, but is usually held in the Spring semester.

The goal of each job fair remains the same each year and that 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’re excited about being able to offer our students and alumni this additional opportunity to speak with employers and practice their interview skills,” said Viviana Espinoza, TSTC director of Talent management and Career Services.

Espinoza added that she has received a great response from industry as well, with at least 25 employers already booked for the October event.

Companies such as Toyota, Valley Baptist Medical Center, Wylie and Sons, SpawGlass, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Stewart and Stevenson and the United State Department of Agriculture will be on hand to present job opportunities and answer questions.TSTC Industry Job Fair

A common practice during TSTC’s job fairs is for industry representatives to not only speak with attendees, but also interview and hire on the spot.

“In past years we have had success with on-site interviews,” she said. “Many of our attendees have left with job offers, some even before graduating.”

Those attending the job fair are encouraged to come prepared with at least 10 copies of their resume, dressed to impress and ready for an interview.

To help students and alumni prepare for the job fair, TSTC’s Talent Management and Career Services offers year-round assistance with resume building and writing and in-house mock interviews to help students improve interview skills and gain confidence.

Additionally, every semester, the department hosts an Interview Practicum, where soon-to-be TSTC graduates complete mock interviews with local and statewide industry professionals to polish their interview skills.

“Our goal at career services is to place our students and alumni in high-paying jobs in their field of study,” said Espinoza. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a current student or you’ve graduated, our services remain the same and are here to stay.”

Espinoza encourages students and alumni to attend the Industry Job Fair and to take advantage of all the services the department provides locally and statewide.

TSTC’s campuses in Marshall and Waco will also host the same job fair on October 19 and November 2, respectively.

“Overall this is a great event that gives our students and alumni from all over the state the opportunity to find their dream job,” said Espinoza.

For more information on the Industry Job Fair or the services provided by Talent Management and Career Services call 956-364-4131.

TSTC Introduces Robotics Technology Degree to Fort Bend County

(FORT BEND) – Robots are a way of the future. They can be found inside manufacturing and distribution centers and state-of-the-art factories and at Texas State Technical College.

Students can now enroll in Robotics Technology, one of four new programs being offered at TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus, and learn how to program and operate a fast-growing robotic population.

“Our program offers students a path to learning cutting-edge automated system technologies in the industry,” said TSTC’s State Department Chair of Instrumentation Technology Bob Lovelace.

Robotics Technology is a five-semester program in which students learn about automated manufacturing processes, the role of robots and support equipment through instruction in areas such as motion programming, conveyor systems and computer networking.

Students in the program will also receive hands-on, real-word experience in the class with the opportunity of setting up industrial robots and designing and building electromechanical Robotics Technology studentcontrol systems.

“Our students will train with the most used industrial robots in the industry,” said Lovelace. “Because of our training they will be able to be successful in any manufacturing job they find themselves in.”

Lovelace added that a career in robotics can be diverse and gives graduates an array of options when job searching. He also proudly stated that this type of accomplishment has been evident with the Robotic Technology program in Waco since 1999.

“The demand for highly-skilled technicians is growing,” he said. “And we provide the best entry-level technicians money can buy.”

Graduates from TSTC’s Robotics Technology can expect to find jobs as robotic technicians, electro-mechanical technicians, mechanical engineering technicians and electromechanical equipment assemblers.

“We put as much emphasis on putting people to work, as we do putting them in the classroom,” said Lovelace. “It is this effort that makes TSTC students and our funding model successful.”

TSTC has an outcome-based funding model meaning TSTC gets paid based on students’ job placement and earnings after they graduate, rather than initial enrollment.

“Our students have no limits on where they can go after getting a degree from TSTC,” said Lovelace. “And in this new program it’s no different.”

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