Category Archives: West Texas

TSTC Students Represent Texas at National SkillsUSA Conference in Kentucky

(WACO) – Students calculated, hammered and stirred their way through the first day of competitions Wednesday at SkillsUSA’s 54th National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

Texas State Technical College students from the Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, Waco and West Texas campuses participated in events such as Additive Manufacturing, CNC Technician, Internetworking and Medical Math at the Kentucky Exposition Center. The students qualified for the national conference by winning at SkillsUSA Texas’ state conference in April in Waco.

Noah McCoy, 21, a 2015 graduate of Saint Joseph Academy in Brownsville, represents TSTC in Harlingen in the Automated Manufacturing Technology team contest.

“There are different expectations,” McCoy said. “We are a three-man team. Miguel (Zamarripa) knows machining and Carlos (Davila) is strong in drafting. It’s pretty cool.”

McCoy went to the national contest in 2017 and competed in Technical Drafting.

I’m a little more prepared,” he said. “We show the other students around and how things go.”

Alexander Oldham, 30, is a Computer Networking and Systems Administration major at TSTC in Brownwood taking part in Technical Computer Applications. He said the contest’s components complement what he is studying.

“You never stop learning,” Oldham said.

Oldham, like many students attending the conference, has been trading state delegation pins. So far, he has gotten pins from Georgia, Illinois and Iowa, but has not gotten the elusive Hawaii or Puerto Rico pins yet.

The buildup to Wednesday began Monday night when state meetings were held to go over conference information and rules.

On Tuesday, the opening ceremony was held at historic Freedom Hall and included national awards, a high school parade of states and remarks from NASCAR Team Penske driver and Michigan native Brad Keselowski.

Keselowski talked about his development in racing and how several technical careers factored into his line of work. He said the more effort people put toward their goals, the better the results will be.

“I think the USA will continue to get stronger because of you guys,” Keselowski said, vowing his support to SkillsUSA.”

Attendees cheered when Keselowski changed on stage out of the navy blue blazer he was wearing into SkillsUSA’s signature red jacket.

“Everyone here is a winner,” he said. “This coat represents winners. I like winners.”

The national conference has 102 events with an attendance of 18,000 people, including students, teachers and representatives of 600 national companies, trade associations, labor unions and businesses, according to information from SkillsUSA.

Competitions continue Thursday, along with students visiting Kentucky Kingdom, an amusement park on the grounds of the exposition center.

The closing ceremony will be Friday night at Freedom Hall, where more than 1,000 gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded to secondary and postsecondary competitors.

“When students succeed, America succeeds,” Timothy Lawrence, executive director of SkillsUSA, told attendees at Tuesday night’s opening ceremony,

For more information on SkillsUSA, go to skillsusa.org.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

 

TSTC and Hendrick Provider Network Celebrate TWC Skills Development Grant

(ABILENE) – Leaders from Texas State Technical College, the Texas Workforce Commission and Hendrick Provider Network gathered Thursday to commemorate a TWC Skills Development Fund grant.

The original grant amount was $110,512, which created or upgraded 66 jobs at the health care provider, but an amendment to the grant added another $121,044 and helped an additional 58 employees.

“We offer a great solution to working with industry partners and are fortunate to work with the TWC,” said Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in Abilene.

Of the employees trained, 24 became certified medical coders, 10 became certified medical office managers and 35 earned certificates in medical front office skills. TSTC’s Workforce Training and Continuing Education partnered with the Practice Management Institute to fulfill the training.

Some of the classes Hendrick employees took at TSTC dealt with insurance claims processing, procedural terminology, advanced coding and auditing.

“Health care has been underserved in the education realm,” said Hendrick Provider Network Operations Manager Marjohn Riney. “The health care industry has changed. Nobody has been educating front office staff.”

Riney said the training has led to increased tenure among employees and an empowerment in knowledge and competence.

The regional economic impact of the grant is expected to be $1.2 million, said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez III, who presented the check.

“What you are doing is keeping up and listening to industry,” Alvarez said. “You are customizing training to industry needs.”

Hendrick Provider Network in Abilene is a multispecialty group with providers in cardiology, infectious disease, nephrology, orthopedic surgery and other medical fields. It is part of the Hendrick Health System.

“Hendrick is one of our primary employers, and their growth is critical to our economy,” said Justin Jaworski, executive director of the Abilene Industrial Foundation.

The Skills Development Fund has been used since 1996 to localize workforce training for Texas companies. This enables companies to work directly with local partners to develop training tailored to employees’ needs. The competitive grant has assisted more than 4,200 employers statewide, according to the TWC.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

TSTC in Brownwood to Host Registration Events This Summer

(BROWNWOOD) – Texas State Technical College will have two Registration Rally events this summer in Brownwood.

The events will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 26 and July 31 at the Enrollment Center/Learning Resource Center at 305 Booker St. in Brownwood. The events are part of an effort to make the registration process as easy as possible for incoming students planning to take classes in the fall semester.

“We make it fun,” said Devin Crenshaw, a TSTC college outreach representative. “They can come and do every single thing in one day. It’s easier for people that don’t want to deal with the lengthy process and do a lot of back and forth. They can just come and get it done and not wait until the first class day.”

Visitors can take campus tours and learn about the seven technical programs offered at TSTC in Brownwood, including Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology, Emergency Medical Services and Welding Technology.

People interested in enrolling should bring a copy of their driver’s license, high school transcript or GED, any college transcripts, proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination and TSI scores.

TSTC is having registration events at its 10 campuses throughout the state this summer. For information on the closest Registration Rally, log on to tstc.edu/rally.

For more information, contact TSTC in Brownwood at 325-643-5987 or visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Chemical Dependency Counseling Student Teaches Inmates Life Skills

(BROWNWOOD) – Offenders in the Texas prison system sometimes are the forgotten ones who need a guide to find a path toward personal fulfillment.

But people like Norma Vandenberg, a Chemical Dependency Counseling major at Texas State Technical College in Brownwood, are there to teach the life skills they need.

“We do not tell people how to live,” she said. “We help them find better coping skills and how to make better choices.”

Vandenberg, a resident of Dublin in Erath County, is doing a summer practicum in substance abuse and addiction counseling at the Thomas R. Havins Unit in Brownwood. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice pre-release facility holds more than 575 male inmates.

“I teach classes that help the addict understand addiction, anger management, and understanding mental illness and how it mimics addiction,” Vandenberg said. “I also do individual counseling and group counseling and assessments as new clients come in.”

Elizabeth Jones, an instructor in TSTC’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program, said people working in treatment at the Havins Unit are chosen by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. She said a majority of the facility’s counselors are TSTC graduates.

“Norma has the discipline and dedication because of her past career as a nurse,” Jones said. “She is following the guidelines that I tried to establish concerning ethics, professionalism and establishing good boundaries with clients.”

Vandenberg is scheduled to graduate in August with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Chemical Dependency Counseling from TSTC. Program majors learn about criminology, individual and group counseling skills, and substance-related and addictive disorders.

“I enjoyed school and learning new things and new challenges,” she said.

Vandenberg grew up in Worthington, Minnesota, and is a graduate of Worthington High School She studied nursing at Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

“I worked with women recovering from addiction and enjoyed the work,” she said. “I enjoy helping people. I am burned out with nursing, and CDC is still in the medical field.”

After graduation from TSTC, Vandenberg will work full-time at the Havins Unit as a certified criminal justice addiction professional.

Jones said program graduates also go on to work in Austin, Belton, Dallas, San Angelo and San Antonio. She said the Chemical Dependency Counseling program has been used by graduates to work on bachelor’s degrees in nursing, psychology and social work.

“We receive compliments on our students from the program director (at the Havins Unit), and I have received phone calls asking me when I would be graduating students because the Havins Unit was short-staffed on counselors,” said Jones. “Our program lays the foundation for understanding the disease of addiction, and this understanding can be beneficial to all career paths associated with allied health.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

TSTC in Breckenridge to Host Registration Events This Summer

(BRECKENRIDGE) – Texas State Technical College will have two Registration Rally events this summer in Breckenridge.

The events will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 19 and July 24 in Room 103 in the Breckenridge Center at 307 N. Breckenridge Ave. The events are part of an effort to make the registration process as easy as possible for incoming students planning to take classes in the fall semester.

“This is the best time for everyone to come and get everything done to get registered or check on what they are still needing,” said Cassandra Love, an enrollment specialist at TSTC in Breckenridge.

Visitors can take campus tours and learn about the four technical programs offered at TSTC in Breckenridge: Chemical Dependency Counseling, Environmental Technology, Vocational Nursing and Welding Technology.

People interested in enrolling should bring a copy of their driver’s license, high school transcript or GED, any college transcripts, proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination and TSI scores.

TSTC is having registration events at its 10 campuses throughout the state this summer. For information on the closest Registration Rally, log on to tstc.edu/rally.

For more information, contact TSTC in Breckenridge at 254-559-7700 or visit tstc.edu.

TSTC in Abilene to Host Registration Events This Summer

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College will have three Registration Rally events this summer in Abilene.

The events will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 28, July 25 and Aug. 8 at the main campus at 650 East Highway 80 in Abilene. The events are part of an effort to make the registration process as easy as possible for incoming students planning to take classes in the fall semester.

“The registration rallies are important because it gives you an opportunity to meet instructors and clarify anything you need to know about programs and admissions,” said Rikki Spivey, a TSTC college outreach representative.

Visitors can take campus tours and learn about the 15 technical programs offered at TSTC in Abilene, including new programs in Industrial Maintenance, Electrical Power and Controls and Welding Technology.

Construction on the 56,000-square-foot Industrial Technology Center on Loop 322 next to Abilene Regional Airport is scheduled to be completed in time for the first day of the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 27.

People interested in enrolling should bring a copy of their driver’s license, high school transcript or GED, any college transcripts, proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination and TSI scores.

TSTC is having registration events at its 10 campuses throughout the state this summer. For information on the closest Registration Rally, log on to tstc.edu/rally.

For more information, contact TSTC in Abilene at 325-734-3608 or visit tstc.edu.

TSTC in Sweetwater to Host Registration Events This Summer

(SWEETWATER) – Texas State Technical College will have two Registration Rally events this summer in Sweetwater.

The events will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 12 and July 26 in the Sears Building on Homer K. Taylor Drive. The events are part of an effort to make the registration process as easy as possible for incoming students planning to take classes in the fall semester.

“We make it fun,” said Devin Crenshaw, a TSTC college outreach representative. “They can come and do every single thing in one day. It’s easier for people that don’t want to deal with the lengthy process and do a lot of back and forth. They can just come and get it done and not wait until the first class day.”

Visitors can take campus and housing tours and talk to faculty members about the seven technical programs offered at TSTC in Sweetwater, including Automotive Technology, Electromechanical Technology and Wind Energy Technology.

People interested in enrolling should bring a copy of their driver’s license, high school transcript or GED, any college transcripts, proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination, housing application and TSI scores.

TSTC is having registration events at its 10 campuses throughout the state this summer. For information on the closest Registration Rally, log on to tstc.edu/rally.

For more information, contact TSTC in Sweetwater at 325-235-7300 or visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Alumnae at Eastland Memorial Hospital Work to Improve Local Health Care

(BRECKENRIDGE) — Northeast of the hustle and bustle of metropolitan Abilene is a hospital with a big heart. Eastland Memorial Hospital, the only hospital to serve the residents of Eastland County, is home to local heroes who answered the call to become health care providers.

Some of these professionals are graduates of Texas State Technical College’s nursing program.

“This is a rural community, and TSTC assists in providing a quality education and necessary service that is so important for this community,” said TSTC alumna Brandi Riley, a registered nurse who is manager of Outpatient/Surgery Services and Education at EMH.

Currently there are five TSTC graduates employed with EMH. Some students started their nursing careers at TSTC, while others studied online to further their education.

I graduated from TSTC with my LVN in 2010 from the Breckenridge campus, and I went back in 2016 to the associate degree in nursing LVN to RN bridge program at the Sweetwater campus,” said Megan Drake, EMH’s supervisor of Infection Control, Risk Management and Employee Health. “I chose TSTC because it is so much more affordable compared to larger universities where you get the same degree.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a rising demand for LVNs and RNs, and the employment growth rate in Texas is higher than the national average.

“We hire new RNs and LVNs and encourage students to do their clinicals with us to get their foot through the door,” Riley said. “We are working on a partnership with the Breckenridge campus to get LVNs and RNs doing clinicals here and recruit some new faces.”

For those at Eastland, the hospital is a community and an opportunity to hone new skills.  

“Eastland is smaller, but I feel that I get a broader range of skills rather than working in a larger hospital, where I’d have to focus on one specific department,” Drake said.

Many of the staff employed by Eastland have earned their RN degrees through TSTC’s online program while working full time as an LVN.  

“I was working for Eastland already as an LVN, and they helped to pay for me to go to TSTC to become an RN. And that’s when I earned the position I’m in now,” Riley said.

For others, like registered nurse Belinda Williams, TSTC is a family affair. Williams earned her associate degree in nursing, her daughter graduated from the Chemical Dependency Counseling program in Breckenridge, and her husband earned his commercial driver’s license after completing TSTC’s professional driver training in Sweetwater.

“I love that you go and learn what it is that you are pursuing career-wise, and it’s cheaper than regular college. It’s a great place to get an education, and it’s a fun school that cares about its students,” said Williams, RN case manager/utilization review and quality manager at EMH.

As the need for qualified nurses rises, Riley reminds potential students to think of why they chose to pursue a career in nursing.

“You have to have a love for nursing. It’s not about the income, but caring for patients and giving the best patient care possible,” Riley said.

Registration for fall classes at TSTC is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC and Nolan County Companies Celebrate TWC Skills Development Grant

(SWEETWATER) – Leaders from Texas State Technical College, the Texas Workforce Commission, Buzzi Unicem USA and United States Gypsum Corp. gathered Wednesday to commemorate a $419,590 Skills Development Fund grant aimed at improving workers’ skills.

The grant will create or upgrade 185 jobs and provide mechanical training in bearings, lubricants and other components, operator assessment care and specialized emergency response training. Both Buzzi Unicem and United States Gypsum Corp. will receive more than a combined 7,000 hours of business technical training.

The regional economic impact of the grant is expected to be $4.2 million, said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez III, who presented the check.

TSTC in West Texas Provost Rick Denbow said it is critical for local industries to be able to access workforce training through TSTC. He said the technical college must communicate with industries to see what changes there are to ensure that students who graduate are employable.

Alvarez commended TSTC for its involvement in economic development.

“It’s the college of Texas,” said Alvarez. “They listen to you and ask you what they can do to serve constituents.”

Ken Becker, executive director of the Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development, said some of Nolan County’s blue-collar industries are changing colors.

“You have to have a lot of technical training to do their jobs,” Becker said.

United States Gypsum Corp. in Sweetwater has more than 230 employees who produce gypsum wallboard. Jeff Grimland, plant manager, said the company has expanded the range of training that workers can receive and given raises sooner because of the Skills Development Fund grant.

He said employees can discover more problems to repair on routine maintenance days because of the training. And, he said, employees can see that the company is investing in them.

“USG has received much-needed training that improves efficiency and the bottom line,” said Grimland.

Buzzi Unicem USA in Maryneal has more than 120 employees working with cement manufacturing.

The Skills Development Fund has been used since 1996 to localize workforce training for companies. This enables companies to work directly with local partners to develop training tailored to employees’ needs. The competitive grant has assisted more than 4,200 employers statewide, according to the TWC.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

Recent TSTC Graduate Returns to Hometown to Work

(ABILENE) – Stephen Heckler is glad to be home.

Heckler, 20, began work earlier this month in the network operations center at Acumera, a network-managed service provider in his hometown of Austin. He earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration from Texas State Technical College in late April.

Heckler’s job as a technician involves fulfilling client tickets and answering telephone calls at the Northland Drive company.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity and a lot to learn,” he said. “It seems like a really good fit for what I want to be doing.”

Phil Stolle, director of Acumera’s network operations center, said it is a challenge finding qualified applicants with customer service skills and technical training who can work nontraditional yet flexible hours.

“Candidates who have real-world experience along with a course of study in networking/IT from TSTC are great candidates,” Stolle said. “In the specific role as a network operations center technician, it is a great opportunity for those looking to put their degree to use. One thing that I think candidates are really attracted to is that interviewing with Acumera is the opportunity to go deep in the field of network management.”

Heckler was home-schooled and attended private schools while growing up in Austin. When he was 8, he crashed his father’s computer. When Heckler was middle school-age, he searched online for a computer he could afford with his allowance.

He said college was not an option at first because he wanted to be a mechanic or work on computers because of his interest. He said TSTC exceeded his expectations.

“I have relatively good time-management skills already,” Heckler said. “It was not a big deal to go to class once or twice a week with a lab section and make sure the homework got done.”

He went to TSTC’s Abilene campus because his fiance is attending Abilene Christian University.

“I did not want to do theory and programming,” Heckler said. “TSTC was a good fit. I feel like I am prepared for work. I pushed and worked on the assignments, so if you put in the effort, you do learn a lot.”

Leo Chavez, an instructor in TSTC’s Computer Networking and Systems Administration program, said Heckler showed a lot of passion with his learning and spent a lot of time in the program’s combined classroom and lab.

“It is validation for the program since we certainly teach toward the smaller areas, like Abilene and Sweetwater,” Chavez said. “It says a whole lot about the things we teach in that you can take that and pivot to an Austin, and make it work well.”

Heckler said Chavez was an integral part of his success at TSTC and in finding a job so quickly after graduation.

“He has a way of communicating his passion for the material and getting the students excited about that,” said Heckler.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.