Author Archives: Debra Gonzalez

TSTC Graduates Help Rebuild Puerto Rico Power Grid

(MARSHALL) – In the wake of last year’s Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was in shambles. With many residents left without electricity, some of Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Lineworker graduates working for Oncor wanted to help restore power to the storm-ravaged island.

TSTC alumni Sawyer Prestridge, a 2015 graduate, and Paul Sheppard, a 2013 graduate, are among many Oncor employees recently sent by the electric service provider to assist in the island’s recovery efforts.

Prestridge left for Arecibo, Puerto Rico, in January to help rebuild the electrical grid. He volunteered to help restore the grid because he wanted to help the residents.

“It felt really good,” he said. “It was definitely a humbling experience working there. It was hard work.”

Sheppard worked in the same city in February.

“I wanted to help out,” he said. “I wanted to use the skills I was given to help the people there get the lights on. It’s a good deed.”

Prestridge said the concrete houses he saw weren’t too badly damaged, but power lines were down and wreckage was far and wide.

“There was debris everywhere,” he said. “Downed trees were stacked up 70 feet high. We mainly picked up wire and changed out electrical poles.”

Sheppard shared the same sentiments.

“It was still pretty bad,” Sheppard said. “We were sent to one of the most mountainous areas there, so not everything is accessible by truck. Trees had to be cut, but the vegetation grows back every day because it rains every day. The humidity is 100 percent. It looked like nobody had been there.”

Sheppard said the change in environment made the work difficult.

“It was definitely the hardest work I’ve done in my life,” he said. “Here in East Texas, I’m not used to all the mountains and stuff like that. It was definitely a different type of work area. The infrastructure is totally different there than it is here. The weather — it rains every single day. It may rain for 45 minutes and stop for an hour or two and then rain again. It was a totally different experience from working here in East Texas.”

TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Statewide Department Chair Eric Carithers said he is very proud of the graduates for volunteering to work on the island.

“The dedication that it takes to not only do line work, but being young in your career and being away from home for weeks to months at a time, is challenging — especially if it’s their first time being away from their families like that,” Carithers said.

Oncor has sent 80 employees to help restore power to the territory.

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology, visit

TSTC in Fort Bend’s Annual Open House a Success

(FORT BEND COUNTY) – Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County held its annual open house Friday, opening its campus for program tours and meetings with faculty. The event, designed for prospective students who want to learn more about the college, hosted more than 200 visitors.

Coordinator of student recruitment Marigold Sagrado said she hoped the open house event would help give the college more visibility.

“I want to help spread the word about TSTC in the Houston and greater surrounding areas,” she said. “I also hope they took away that technical education is important and can offer a high-paying career.”

Visitors touring the campus’ 10 programs were able to participate in hands-on activities.

“In our Precision Machining program, our guests had the opportunity to create keychains on our CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machines,” Sagrado said. “They got to see students climbing poles in Electrical Lineworker Technology. Robotics demoed the robots for visitors, and Electrical Power & Controls did a demonstration on electricity. It was a lot of fun.”

Sagrado said the college’s unique programs are what drew many of the visitors.

“Our attendees are looking for programs in these fields, but there aren’t a lot of schools offering them,” she said. “I think that piqued their interest to check out more.”

Other guests heard about the college by word of mouth.

“People are talking about their experience at TSTC and how the learning experience is different from any other college or university,” Sagrado said.

TSTC’s Student Recruitment office made some changes to open house this year hoping reach a broader audience.

“This year, our event lasted until 7 p.m.,” she said. “We wanted to try to reach some of the nontraditional students who may work during the day.”

Isaac Rush, an attendee who has now decided to enroll at TSTC in the fall, said he found the event beneficial.

“Not only were the teachers very helpful, but the student volunteers were just as helpful too,” he said. “The students were intertwined with their field of study, which helped me in selecting what I want to major in at TSTC. All in all, TSTC is a great environment.”

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on the college, visit

TSTC Students Bused to Waco for Job Fair

(HUTTO) – More than a dozen Texas State Technical College students from the East Williamson County Higher Education Center made their way to TSTC in Waco Thursday, March 22, for the college’s annual Industry Job Fair.

Over 100 employers attended the event looking to meet, interview and possibly hire students from TSTC’s programs.

This was the first year that the college’s Williamson County campus had bused students to the job fair.

“For years now, it’s been an issue of transportation,” said TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla. “We’re trying to do what we can for our students.”

TSTC field development officer Michael Smith echoed those sentiments.

“I heard from several different instructors over the year that either they had to drive them up there or they (students) had to drive on their own, and how it would be neat if we had a bus,” Smith said. “I heard that over and over, and so I told Edgar, ‘I think we should do a bus this year,’ and we started researching the cost.”

Ellis & Salazar Automotive & Collision volunteered to sponsor the bus to help the students reach more opportunities.

“We’re working with Ellis & Salazar on a different project, so I mentioned it to them and said this would really help us,” Smith said.

Smith hopes the students had a positive experience at the event.

“They’re getting to meet with these companies and see the full range of services that TSTC offers,” he said. “It’s not just coming to class and going home. Career Services will be out there to help and answer resume questions, and all the other pieces that go into making sure they’re prepared for a job when they leave. Ultimately the goal is for them to leave with a job.”

Cyber Security student Jeremiah Southern was well prepared for the event.

“I had my resumes ready and researched the companies that were there to see what positions they had open and learn about their backgrounds,” Southern said. “Some of the companies that were there, even though they weren’t there specifically looking for what my particular field will be, it just takes asking. In IT and networking, there’s always something that could be available. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.”

Southern enjoyed the event overall and found some promising opportunities to follow up on.

“There were a lot of companies and a lot of students,” he said. “It was my first time going to a job fair, and I look forward to going to more. There were some great opportunities with the Civilian Air Force and Aerotek. Aerotek specifically said they need Cisco people, so that was really promising.”

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on the college, visit

TSTC hosts annual counselor update

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College hosted its annual Dual Enrollment Counselor Update and Luncheon Wednesday, March 21.

High school counselors, administrators and teachers from the surrounding area attended the event, which was held at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center.

Megan McBride, dual enrollment advisor at TSTC, stressed the need for the updates.

“It’s important that we hold these events so we can educate the counselors about dual enrollment statewide, not just for TSTC, but from the TEA (Texas Education Agency) and the Higher Education Coordinating Board standpoints also,” she said.

Marina Wilcox, TSTC vice president of dual enrollment, spoke about the importance of two Texas House bills: one that impacts the way high school students choose courses with a career goal in mind, and another that requires high schools to improve student performance.

Wilcox also elaborated on some of the dual enrollment programs offered by the college.

“If you go to the Texas Workforce Commission website, there’s this really cool thing called Career Check,” Wilcox said in her presentation. “If you look at Industrial Maintenance with a Certificate I, you start out with a salary of $53,000. It’s a high-tech field that’s very skilled, and we offer pathways in that.”

TSTC representatives also covered new forms and changes in the admissions process and general business for the 2018-19 academic year.

“We’ve simplified our processes,” McBride said. “We’re also working more closely with admissions to streamline those processes. Most importantly, we’ve updated the dual enrollment website, and that’s a huge improvement for us.”

Earlier this year, TSTC announced new, fully online pathways in Cyber Security, Digital Media Design, and Computer-Aided Drafting and Design. Health Information Technology was the first program to go completely online.

“Pretty much all of the West Texas high schools that partner with us have opted for these programs since they’re so spread out,” McBride said. “With us, the majority are opting in for these online pathways as well.”

For more information on TSTC and its dual enrollment program, visit

TSTC to Host Program Highlight Day

(RED OAK) – Texas State Technical College in North Texas will host Program Highlight Day for its Electrical Power & Controls program from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 22.

Prospective students will be able to participate in hands-on activities directed by Electrical Power & Controls faculty and learn more about the program, which covers engineering, design, installation, calibration, testing, troubleshooting, computer instrumentation, robotics interfacing, and electrical construction.

An associate degree in Electrical Power & Controls is also covered under TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee program. If graduates of the program do not find a job in their field within six months of graduating, they will receive their tuition back.

Those interested in attending the event can register at

Who: Texas State Technical College
What: Electrical Power & Controls Program Highlight Day
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, March 22
Where: TSTC in North Texas, 119 N. Lowrance Road, Red Oak, Texas 75154

TSTC in Marshall Hosts Annual Job Fair

(MARSHALL) – Students at Texas State Technical College walked into the college’s annual job fair Tuesday with resumes in hand, hoping to leave with the promise of a job.

More than 30 employers set up at the job fair to meet with, interview and possibly hire students from TSTC’s 12 programs offered at the Marshall campus.

Hannah Luce, coordinator of Career Services at TSTC, said the event went well.

“It’s probably near the same turnout we usually have,” Luce said. “The job fair gives our students a good showcase of the variety of companies that are out there hiring them. It gives them networking opportunities.”

Luce said many employers were anxious to set up interviews with the students.

“Tons of students were handing out their resumes and the employers were asking for them, ready to get them in and interviewed,” she said.

Dustin Deberry, remote operations project supervisor for Matheson Gas, said the company came looking to fill positions in industrial maintenance and process operations.

“We had come and done some interviews about a month or so ago, and we liked everybody we talked to,” Deberry said. “We’ve had some promising candidates today. We want them to come to the plant that they’d be interviewing for and speak directly with the plant manager and the zone manager.”

Joe Razza, regional recruiter in Texas and Louisiana for Crown Lift Trucks, said the company does a lot of work with TSTC.

“I’ve had an ongoing relationship with the diesel and industrial maintenance programs and the instructors, so a lot of these individuals I’ve spoken with in the past,” Razza said. “Today is more of a networking event, answering any questions they might have. For the most part they’ve come up pretty prepared with resumes and things like that, so it’s been pretty good.”

Razza said the quality of individuals the college is producing is one of the many reasons why Crown maintains a great relationship with TSTC.

“We also see the passion and drive of the employees that are training those individuals, and that makes it rewarding for us,” he said.

Crown Lift has also offered workshops at TSTC’s campuses statewide to help better prepare students for the workforce.

“We’re not only offering the soft skills workshops and things like that to programs that pertain to us,” Razza said. “We’re offering them campus-wide at all the locations, to kind of give back to TSTC. The students are obtaining all of the things that they need to be successful in their career from the campuses. The soft skills give them an edge up on the competition, and we want them to be successful whether they pursue us or somebody else.”

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on the college, visit

Dashiell Corp. Hires Entire TSTC Lineworker Class

(FORT BEND COUNTY) – The first graduating class of linemen from Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County will walk the stage in April with their certificates and a sigh of relief, knowing they have jobs waiting for them.

All eight graduates have been offered employment with Dashiell Corp. upon completion of the program. Dashiell is a leading national provider of technical services to the electric utility, power generation and energy industries.

Troy Eads, instructor of TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology, said he had been working with a couple of companies to help find his students jobs.

The representative from Dashiell was the first to see the students in action, Eads said. “After he talked to them and saw them climb, he said, ‘Yeah, I’ll take them all.’”

Eads said he wasn’t really surprised that the company wanted all of the students.

“I try to teach them everything they need to know,” Eads said. “I wasn’t surprised that any company that came through would (hire them all) because we have a great program. Most schools have a 15-week certification, and we have 45 weeks. You learn a lot more in 45 weeks. We have a good curriculum and great students.”

Student Darryl Jackson said he feels good about having a job before graduating.

“Just a couple of years ago, I really didn’t understand where I would be at,” Jackson said. “Now I’m a few months away from graduating school, and I already have a job. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, like I actually did something.”

Jackson said he didn’t expect to have a job lined up so soon.

“I was really expecting that we’d graduate and have to go out and find our own jobs,” he said.

Though the students are taught the job skills they need, the program goes a little further than that.

“We go in-depth with what we teach them,” Eads said. “They learn not only about the work, but things like showing up on time also. There’s responsibility involved. We teach them about going through the interview and stuff like that as well — the soft skills.”

Jackson said it was those things that made the program special to him.

“It changed everybody in the program, including me,” he said. “We all had our ways about us, and Troy pointed those things out and showed us what wouldn’t work.”

As for now, the students are counting down the days until they begin their new jobs.

“I can’t wait,” Jackson said. “It’s something we talk about every day now.”

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology, visit

Annual TSTC in Williamson County Open House a Success

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College in Williamson County held its annual open house Friday, opening its campus for tours and meetings with faculty. The event, designed for prospective students who want to learn more about the college, hosted more than 300 visitors.

TSTC coordinator of student recruitment Melissa Zamora said the event was a success.

“I think it was a great opportunity for us to get TSTC in Williamson County on the map,” Zamora said.

Zamora said the program tours were a popular part of the day.

“The demos and all the information they provided, along with our college fair, really did showcase what we offer,” she said. “I think it actually showed the students why they should commit to this location in particular.”

TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla said the college changed some things up this year to provide a new experience for visitors and for TSTC.

“We tried some new things this year that we felt would be successful in terms of bringing in more students and more applications,” Padilla said. “We had a great mix of both traditional students coming from schools with their teachers as well as individuals coming with parents. We feel it was a very successful day.”

TSTC employees came from the college’s Fort Bend County, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses to help make the event a success.

“We had staff from across the state join us to assist our students in serving lunch, submitting applications and answering any questions they had about the college admissions process,” Padilla said. “We’re very proud of the team that pulled together to make it happen.”

Sam McCutchen, college and career readiness counselor with Georgetown High School, said the school brought 29 students to the event.

“They had a blast,” McCutchen said. “It broadened their horizons. They learned about opportunities that they didn’t have a clue about, and they were amazed at how convenient this was to where they live. Now they know this is an option for them.”

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on the college, visit

TSTC Names Rick Denbow Provost

(WEST TEXAS) – Texas State Technical College has named Rick Denbow as the Provost over its four West Texas campuses. Denbow served as Interim Provost for the campuses since May.

Along with functioning as Interim Provost, Denbow was also the Senior Field Development Officer for The TSTC Foundation, an instrumental role in supporting the efforts of TSTC’s new technology center in Abilene. Denbow began working for TSTC in 2009 as the director of the Welding and Transportation Technology Division.

Denbow said he is honored to have been selected.

“It’s a lot of responsibility, but I’m very excited also,” he said. “In my tenure with TSTC, I’ve spent my time in West Texas working with the four campuses and I’ve come to know the programs and the faculty and staff. I’m really excited about going forward. Some of the things the college has done, like the most recent reorganization, have really positioned us to be successful.”

The West Texas community is one of Denbow’s favorite things about his job.

“The communities at each of the four locations are very supportive of TSTC and what we’re trying to do, and that makes our job a little bit easier,” he said. “Also, the faculty and staff are just awesome. They’re always willing to go that extra mile and I’m honored to be able to work with them.”

Denbow has lofty goals for TSTC in West Texas.

“As the Chancellor stated in an email to employees a few weeks back, there’s one word and that’s growth,” Denbow said. “That can have different meanings depending on the campus. Is it growing enrollment? Is it growing capacity? Is it growing placement? I would submit it’s all of the above. Each campus in West Texas is unique and one of my goals is to make sure we grow at each of our four campuses.”

TSTC Vice Chancellor & Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Kilgore said he is excited to welcome Denbow in the role.

“Through his experiences, Rick has a really good sense of the communities and needs of industry in the West Texas Region,” Kilgore said.

Denbow graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Texas at Austin.

“I come from the business world,” Denbow said. “With Chancellor Reeser’s focus on making TSTC a little more entrepreneurial, a little more business-like, that fits very well with my background. I think I can add value to the West Texas campuses in the provost role.”

Denbow added that TSTC’s new Industrial Technology Center in Abilene is ahead of the construction schedule. They hope to start moving employees in on Aug. 1, and classes will begin in the building in the fall. Denbow says the campus signifies a new beginning for TSTC in Abilene.

“That campus, the design and how it’s laid out, the Abilene community has never seen anything like that from TSTC,” he said. “The Abilene campus has been housed in an old hospital and we didn’t really have an opportunity to put any heavy equipment and industrial trades in there. This is a new start.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, visit

Annual TSTC North Texas Open House a Success

(RED OAK) – Texas State Technical College in North Texas held its annual open house Friday, opening its campus for tours and to meet with faculty. The event, designed for prospective students who want to learn more about the college, hosted more than 300 visitors.

Shannon Gaspard, TSTC director of Student Recruitment, said the event was successful.

“We’ve doubled our attendance from last year, which is great,” Gaspard said. “This year, we also partnered with Region 10 and Region 11 and we worked with them to get the word out about our event to students. It worked out a lot, and we now have recognition in a lot of those different counties with the schools.”

Gaspard said it’s also a win for the instructors.

“Now you have students who are learning about different programs,” she said. “We have a group who’d never heard of welding and had never been in a welding lab, but they’re racing to welding now because they’re interested in learning more about it, taking a look at the equipment and just seeing the different cool things that are made from like a simple cutting machine.”

Renvy Smith, a teacher from LEAP Academy in Midlothian, said the school only brought a small group, but they had a good time.

“They had an idea of what areas they were interested in, so we visited those,” Smith said. “The students did enjoy those areas.”

John Tanner, CTE teacher at Cleburne’s Team School, brought about 20 students to the event. He said they also enjoyed it.

“The students had a good time,” he said. “I think they learned a lot.”

All of TSTC’s programs participated in the event.

“The programs were doing a sort of show-and-tell,” Gaspard said. “So they’re showing the equipment and tools, but they’re also doing different types of competitions in their labs. Industrial Maintenance had cranes and were showing the students how the hydraulics and all these different parts equal out to what you do in the field. They’re doing that while moving building blocks, and whoever stacks them the tallest wins.”

Gaspard said one of the most popular sessions of the day was the “TSTC Experience.”

“That was the session where students could learn more about what we offer, the programs and how to apply,” she said. “We were at capacity every session.”

Another aspect the students loved was the game room.

“We had some fun games, like one where you have to move a cookie from your forehead into your mouth without using your hands,” Gaspard said. “Students loved it!”

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on the college, visit