Author Archives: Debra Gonzalez

TSTC to host annual counselor update

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College will host its annual Counselor Update and Luncheon from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Nearly 45 high school employees from Regions 9 and 14 and the surrounding areas are expected at the event.

Marina Wilcox, TSTC vice president of dual enrollment, will speak 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.

“We are educating them on House Bills 5 and 22 and how TSTC can meet their needs in being successful,” said TSTC dual enrollment advisor Amy Freeman.

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

“Dual enrollment has gone through some major changes,” Freeman said. “We’ll update them on these new processes and how we can help make the transition easier for them.”

Freeman said the event is beneficial for counselors to attend

“We are covering a lot of information that is relevant for them — not just on TSTC’s end, but also for the state of Texas and its goals. We’ll educate them on what they can do to help students graduate high school with a certificate so they can go out and get jobs.”

Last month, TSTC announced new, fully online pathways in Cyber Security, Digital Media Design and Medical Office Specialist. Health Information Technology was the first program to go completely online. Many of the high schools participating in dual enrollment opted for these degree plans.

“With the distances that West Texas dual enrollment covers, I will say the majority of our schools are participating in fully online programs,” Freeman said. “We’re anticipating additional schools to partner with us in online programs for the 2018-19 academic year.”

TSTC will open its newest Abilene campus in the fall, bringing the addition of three new programs: Electrical Power & Controls, Industrial Maintenance Technology and Welding Technology.

“Each of those programs will have a dual enrollment pathway available for local students,” Freeman said. “We hope that students from AISD, Jim Ned, Clyde and Hawley will be interested in coming to the new campus.”

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

TSTC to Host Open House at Breckenridge Campus

(BRECKENRIDGE) – Texas State Technical College in Breckenridge will hold its annual Open House from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, March 2. This event is designed for prospective students who want to learn more about the college, but it is also open to their parents, families and friends.

Visitors can tour the campus and speak with instructors about the programs offered, including Chemical Dependency Counseling, Environmental Technology, Vocational Nursing and Welding.

Faculty from the Business Management Technology (Brownwood), Culinary Arts (Abilene), Wind Energy Technology (Sweetwater) and Health Information Technology (online) programs will be available to meet with students and answer questions about their programs.

Students will also be able to meet with Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Support Services, Veteran Services and success coaches, among others, to help guide them through the college enrollment process.

The college expects over 400 students from the local area to visit.

Interested persons should register online at For more information, call 940-447-7714.

TSTC Graduate Inspired to Pursue Bachelor’s Degree

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College Welding graduate Coltin Wiesner has been accepted to Texas A&M in College Station to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Science.

Wiesner hopes his welding background will help him excel in his new degree plan.

“A lot of times ag teaches both the welding and the animal portions of it,” he said. “The welding will definitely help and will move over into that.”

Wiesner graduated from TSTC with a 3.2 GPA and finds it one of his greatest accomplishments at TSTC.

“I’m proud of earning my associate degree and the lifelong connections I made while doing so,” he said. “In my family, I’m the first one. My mom went to college for a semester, but my grandfather died and it was horrible for her. For me, it’s almost honoring them. I came from a background of farming and ranching; you complete high school and that was it. You went into the field. It’s just honoring that I’m going into something that they came from Germany to do and to make a new life.”

Having been inspired by his high school FFA class, Wiesner hopes to become an agriculture teacher one day.

“I would love to share my FFA experience with others,” he said. “I wasn’t in it for four years like the traditional kid; I was a band kid. Moving over, you don’t know anybody. I met amazing people there who I am still friends with today; they’re lifelong friends. Moving over into that program and having those people there helped me get comfortable. It made me who I am today.”

Wiesner said TSTC Welding instructor A. Keith Wojcik also played a part in his decision to teach.

“My welding instructor, Keith Wojcik — words can’t describe how much I’ve learned from the greatest man I have ever met,” he said. “How much he enjoys teaching people to weld after so long in the business is great. I like the creative part of welding, where you can just make something. That’s something he was really good about him. He would just say, ‘Do it.’ He wants you to succeed. He couldn’t have been any happier when I got accepted to A&M.”

Wiesner hopes to transfer that ideology into his teaching style as well.

“I love animals, I always have, and how much I enjoyed it is something I want to share with other people.”

Wiesner’s advice to those interested in continuing their education is to be productive and to persevere.

“This may sound corny and repetitive,” he said. “However, keeping up with your work and not slacking shows and pays off.”

TSTC will host its annual Open House from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, March 9. For more information on the college and its programs, visit

TSTC welcomes new recruiter

(BROWNWOOD) – Texas State Technical College in Brownwood welcomed a new recruiter, Laura White, earlier this month.


White was born in Bogota, Colombia, and raised in Florida. She currently lives in Abilene. White and her husband moved to the area when he was stationed at Dyess Air Force Base.


“I used to work for Bank of America merchant services,” White said. “I loved it. I worked there for a little over a year, and then we got orders to move to Abilene.”


White said she wanted to work at TSTC after hearing about it around town.


“I hear a lot of people in the community always saying how much they love TSTC,” she said. “There are just so many great things they say about TSTC. I also have friends who attend as students in the nursing program in Sweetwater. I’ve just always had it in mind that TSTC was a great place. So I went to the website and saw a job opportunity, and here I am.”


So far, her favorite part is working one-on-one with the students.


“TSTC as a whole focuses on making sure we walk the students step by step through the process,” she said. “If there is any additional help they need, we’re always there and that’s awesome. It’s customer service to a T.”


White has always prided herself in the customer service she offers.


“I relate to that because that’s how I am in any job I’ve ever had,” she said. “I really loved coming into that atmosphere and joining people that are willing to go above and beyond for the students. I love that culture, and that’s what it is — it’s a culture within TSTC.”


TSTC is currently hiring for positions at its 10 campuses statewide. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit

Local TSTC talent competition canceled

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College and “Texas Music Cafe” have canceled the regional Talent Search competition originally scheduled to take place on February 27 on TSTC’s Abilene campus.

The decision was made after only one student signed up to perform. Texas Music Café will transport that contestant to Waco to record her performance, and she will be invited to perform on behalf of West Texas at the finals in Waco on Tuesday, March 20.

The grand prize is a $2,500 recording contract and a chance to perform in a live taping of “Texas Music Cafe.” Runners-up can receive recording gear, a single recording package or a ukulele package.

“Texas Music Cafe” is an hourlong, magazine-style PBS program that is recorded all over the state of Texas in front of live audiences and broadcast nationally on radio, TV and the internet.

TSTC to Host Annual Talent Competition

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College and “Texas Music Cafe” will host the third annual TSTC Talent Search from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at TSTC Student Central in Abilene.

TSTC student contestants will perform as soloists, musicians or groups, and the performances will be posted to YouTube, where the winner will be chosen based on the number of likes on their video.

Holly Tucker (runner-up on NBC’s “The Voice”) will host the competition, which is taking place at TSTC’s four legacy campuses: Harlingen, Marshall, Waco and West Texas. The winner from each location will compete in the finals on Tuesday, March 20, in Waco.

Belinda Palomino, TSTC’s coordinator of Student Life and Engagement, said the event should be fun for those attending.

“Holly Tucker will be there, hosting and performing,” Palomino said. “There will be music and food, so dinner will be provided for anyone attending.”

There is no admission charge to attend.

“I’m just happy I’m not a judge,” Palomino laughed. “The competition is very hard each year because the students are so talented.”

The grand prize is a $2,500 recording contract and a chance to perform in a live taping of “Texas Music Cafe.” Runner-up contestants can receive recording gear, a single recording package or a ukulele package.

“Texas Music Cafe” is an hourlong, magazine-style PBS program that is recorded all over the state of Texas in front of live audiences and broadcast nationally on radio, TV and the internet.

Contestants must be currently enrolled as a full- or part-time student at any TSTC location. For more information, visit

Annual TSTC Open House a Success

(BROWNWOOD) – Texas State Technical College in Brownwood 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 han 50 visitors.


Jeannette Gist, TSTC director of Student Recruitment in West Texas, said they changed some things around this year and it was a success.


“This year we moved everything up and had it a little more condensed,” Gist said. “I wasn’t sure how that would flow, but I love it. I think it’s so fun. People walk right into the party instead of having to walk down the hall to find the party.”


Six people applied after visiting with employees.


“We have people who are genuinely interested in TSTC,” said Devin Crenshaw, TSTC outreach representative. “That many applicants isn’t common for this type of event.  We’ve also had a lot of people who have already applied and also want to go to the open house in Sweetwater.”


Gist said all of the programs saw traffic.


“I saw people at every station,” she said. “I think everybody had visitors today. Sometimes everyone is there to see one program, but there was a good mix. The more hands-on our programs can be, the better it is for the prospective student and also the faculty because it draws students. It’s a richer experience for both.”


Programs such as Diesel Equipment Technology and Environmental Science from TSTC’s other West Texas campuses also met with students at the event. Visitors also got to learn about Electrical Power & Controls, Industrial Maintenance Technology and Welding Technology, which will begin in Abilene in the fall with the opening of TSTC’s new Industrial Technology Center.


TSTC will hold open houses from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its campuses in Breckenridge and Sweetwater on March 2 and March 23, respectively.


For more information on open houses, visit To learn more about the college and its programs, visit

TSTC Student Receives Guitar Once Used by Famous Rock Band

(SWEETWATER) – In the wake of the Bluebonnet Inn dorm fire at Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, one student had a special request. Isaiah Ornelaz, an Automotive Technology student and avid guitar player, just wanted his guitar replaced.

When TSTC employees heard of the request, Rene Ralston, TSTC’s director of Dual Enrollment programs, made a post on her personal Facebook page, asking if anyone might have a guitar they would be willing to donate. She soon had a response.

Maggie Dickey, owner of Sweetwater Performing Arts Center and wife of the late David Dickey, bassist of the band America, told Ralston she might have a guitar for Ornelaz.

“When we asked Maggie if she was sure she wanted to do this, her answer was, ‘electric or acoustic?,’” Ralston said. “Maggie took the guitar to Abilene on Saturday, had new strings put on it, had it tuned and bought Isaiah a new guitar case.”

Ornelaz said he mentioned the guitar in conversation with TSTC employees he talks to often.

“I talk to them a lot, so they knew I play the guitar,” he said. “When the fire happened, I was like, ‘Aw, I lost my guitar,’ and later they asked me if I had an electric or acoustic.”

The guitar was presented to Ornelaz on Monday at a gathering TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser held to speak to the students affected by the fire.

“I’m a guitar player, too, and I want you to know that if I lost one of my guitars in a fire, I would really be upset,” Reeser told Ornelaz. “I happened to hear this morning that there are some employees trying to make sure you get your guitar. I knew David Dickey, and he’s quite literally a rock star. He’s the real deal.”

Ornelaz was shocked to receive the gift.

“I was pretty surprised,” he said. “I just thought he knew I played guitar and was talking about it, and then they showed up with a guitar.”

He wasted no time in playing and even looked up music by America, whose music he hadn’t previously heard.

“I played it all last night. It’s awesome,” he said. “I looked up some songs [by America.] They’re pretty good. I’ll listen to them quite a bit now.”

David Dickey, a Sweetwater resident since 1996, joined America in 1972. The band produced hits like “A Horse with No Name,” “Ventura Highway,” “Hat Trick” and “Sister Golden Hair.”

In all, 28 students were left without their belongings because of the dorm fire. The college and the community have rallied together to recoup the students’ lost items and necessities like clothing and books.

Those interested in donating to the students can give to the Sweetwater Fire Emergency Relief Fund at

TSTC, Community Offer Support to TSTC Students Affected by Fire

(SWEETWATER) – Texas State Technical College Chancellor Mike Reeser met with students affected by the Feb. 7 Bluebonnet Inn dorm fire on the Sweetwater campus at a 2 p.m. gathering today.

Chancellor Reeser reiterated his support for the students.

“When you enroll in TSTC, you become family,” he told the students. “When tragedy happens, a family gathers together. This meeting is to continue that opportunity for you to know that we care. We’re here for you.”

Reeser said the college will do whatever it can to help students stay on track.

“We’re going to make sure that we do everything in our power to make sure you reach the goal you set — to be a technician in a high-paying field,” he said. “We’re going to do all that we can to make sure this tragedy doesn’t deter you, and the way we’re going to do that is with our support for you.”

While no one was injured in the fire, the dorm and the students’ belongings inside were a total loss. TSTC provided books and tools to the students affected, and elected officials, TSTC supporters, area colleges, businesses, churches and community members from the region have generously offered assistance.

At the meeting, the students were presented with gift cards from Trinity Baptist Church, 4th & Elm Church of Christ and Goodwill-West Texas’ Grounds Division to help replace lost possessions. EMA Electromechanics also made a donation to help the students.

“The community really responded,” said TSTC Provost Rick Denbow. “In less than a week’s time, we’ve had a lot of people reach out. We’re still getting calls asking how they can help the students.”

Rep. Stan Lambert​,​ District 71 (R-Abilene)​,​ also spoke to the students.

“We are concerned, and we’re trying to put ourselves in your shoes and understand what you’re going through right now — not just the loss of physical possessions, but some of the emotions and mental issues that you may be dealing with right now,” Lambert said. “The state of Texas is going to step up and do anything that we can to help you in this recovery effort.”

Lambert said he hopes to help ease the students’ hardship.

“I live in Abilene just east of here,” he said. “What I tell parents who send their children to colleges, and even the Dyess airmen, I tell them, ‘They’re ours now. We’ve adopted them.’ We’ve adopted you, because you’re part of the Big Country. You’re part of our family. I want you to know that we’re committed to do anything we possibly can to help you make this transition as soon as possible and ease your burden.”

Those interested in donating to the students can give to the Sweetwater Fire Emergency Relief Fund at

Local Ladies Group Votes to Give TSTC Scholarships

(BRECKENRIDGE) – The Stephens Memorial Hospital “Pink Ladies” auxiliary club of Breckenridge has voted to give two $500 scholarships to Vocational Nursing students at Texas State Technical College.

The group gave their first TSTC scholarship last year, and this year they have expanded it to two scholarships.

“Many of our past students are employed at the hospital, clinics and home health agencies in our community, so helping with scholarships spreads goodwill,” said TSTC nursing instructor Marchelle Taylor. “In doubling the scholarship, two students may receive benefits, and that generosity filters out into the community.”

Donna Pardee, president of the Pink Ladies, said the group loves doing things to help the hospital, and that is why they chose to give the scholarship to nursing students.

“We love doing things for the hospital and the community,” Pardee said. “Every penny we make through fundraising goes right back to the hospital. We don’t keep any of it. This scholarship seemed to be the best way to help a local nursing student in need.”

The scholarships will help students with financial hardships.

“Many of our students live in the surrounding rural areas, so gas and transportation may be an issue,” Taylor said. “Our clinicals are also up to 60 miles away twice a week, so gas money can become an issue. Scholarships may also help students with child care, meals, books and scrubs.”

The group will give one scholarship in the fall and the other in the spring.

“We are hoping to expand the amount next year,” Pardee said. “We realize that it costs a lot to go to college and some of these kids don’t get any help, so we are hoping to help the community.”

Students interested in applying for the scholarships can contact Taylor at

The deadline to apply for TSTC’s nursing program is approaching soon. Students interested in starting the program this fall must apply to the school online and send in their program application packet by Monday, April 2.

To apply, or for more information on the program, visit