(ABILENE) – Shawn Ogden of Clyde wants to continue working in the aircraft industry after discovering the career as a mechanic in the U.S. Air Force.
But, he knew after leaving the military he was missing some of the certifications needed to professionally maintain aircraft.
“Going to college after being in the military can be intimidating and challenging, but it is absolutely worth the effort,” said Ogden, 43, a student at Texas State Technical College in Abilene. “The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is extremely helpful when it comes to making sure you have everything you need to complete your education.”
Guiding Ogden through his time at TSTC is Veteran Services, which works with students who were in the military or are current active-duty members, along with their spouses and dependents.
“In the military, in order to make rank and be successful, we have to have education in our background,” said Annette Collins, veteran programs officer at TSTC’s West Texas campuses.
Some of the popular programs that members of Veteran Services like to pursue include Computer Networking and Systems Administration in Abilene and Brownwood, and Nursing and Vocational Nursing in Brownwood, Breckenridge and Sweetwater.
Ogden is part of the TSTC FAST Trac Airframe and Powerplant Program in Abilene that allows active-duty military members and veterans to study in an accelerated 13-week program focused on Federal Aviation Administration curricula. Classes are taught in hangar space at Abilene Regional Airport.
“There are a lot of veterans that come out and have worked on jets and airplanes the whole time in service but they don’t have the FAA airframe and powerplant license,” said Julia Humphrey, director of career services for TSTC’s West Texas campuses. “The program is geared for them to get the license and go to work.”
Ogden said he has felt at home at TSTC and knows he will be competitive and ready for job searching once he completes academic work in December.
“TSTC offers a complete package with hands-on training, which I have never had access to before,” he said.
Veteran Services also brings people together who share experiences no matter what military branch they are affiliated with.
Veterans, their spouses and dependents can work with TSTC’s Career Services and Talent Management staff on career readiness, resume writing, networking and interview skills. The technical college also has hireTSTC, an online resource for students to connect with companies that have job openings tailored to certificate and associate degree programs.
“I like TSTC because of the way they take care of their students,” said Collins, a 24-year U.S. Air Force veteran. “The staff is willing to go above and beyond to help the students get the education they need.”
A lot of TSTC’s student recruitment is focused on Dyess Air Force Base, which has more than 5,000 active-duty and U.S. Department of Defense civilian employees and an economic impact of more than $441 million, according to the Abilene Industrial Foundation. The military installation is also the largest employer in Taylor County.
“A lot of the active-duty personnel ask about their benefits and if their spouses can use the benefits,” Collins said. “Yes, they can.”
TSTC will have Registration Rally events for the fall semester on Aug. 2 in Sweetwater, Aug. 3 in Breckenridge, Aug. 8 in Brownwood and Aug. 11 in Abilene.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.
(BRECKENRIDGE) – More than 100 employees at Jonell Filtration Products Inc. will receive valuable job training from instructors at Texas State Technical College, thanks to a $210,320 Skills Development Fund grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.
TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez presented the check to representatives from Jonell and TSTC in a ceremony held Friday afternoon at the company’s Breckenridge facility.
Jonell specializes in the development and manufacturing of filtration and separation products for the oil and gas industry, including offshore exploration and production, gas production and transmission, refinery and petrochemical applications and power generation.
The grant will provide customized training for 106 new and incumbent workers in the West Central Texas area during a period of 12 months.
“The workers will receive training in classes aimed at improving the skills of maintenance technicians and operators,” said John Dosher, executive director of Workforce Training and Continuing Education at TSTC.
Dosher explained that classes will focus on general plant safety along with mechanical and electrical safety. Other classes will be taught to improve the skills of front office and sales staff and leadership classes will teach employees about conflict resolution and active listening skills.
Virgil Moore III, executive director of the Breckenridge Economic Development Corp., commented on the importance of the grant’s impact on the community.
“Jonell is Breckenridge and Stephens County’s largest private employer and has been a vital part of the local economy for many years,” he noted. “This training will improve the quality of Jonell’s employees, resulting in higher quality products and service and a stronger local company that successfully competes in an international market.”
Steve Bell, Jonell’s production manager, said his company strives to be the preferred employer in Breckenridge and the grant will help it achieve that goal. He added that TSTC has offered to be flexible around the company’s plant schedules and has been supportive throughout the entire process, resulting in positive feedback from employees.
Robert Puls, business development consultant at Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas, said that Jonell offers quality employment opportunities in the area.
“The hands-on technical training will enhance the skills of current workers in performing maintenance and supporting changing industry and customer requirements,” he said.
Trainees at Jonell will include application engineers, assemblers, machine operators, material handlers, mechanical designers, packaging clerks, production control engineers and shipping clerks.
For more information on Jonell, visit jonellinc.com
Registration Rally events for TSTC’s fall semester will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 20, July 20 and Aug. 3 at the TSTC Welcome Center on the Breckenridge campus at 307 N. Breckenridge.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.
The 2014 graduate was hired last month as head chef for the soon-to-open restaurant and has been busy readying operations since.
“It’s slightly chaotic right now,” Duttry said. “I’ve been working on writing the menu, getting recipe books set up, making sure that everything is delivered properly — we’re still getting equipment coming over from Europe, and I’ve put up a few ads for hiring here in San Antonio. We’re just running straight forward trying to get everything set up.”
But success didn’t come easy for the chef. Duttry says hard work was what got him where he is today.
“I’ve been working two jobs for the last six years or so,” he said. “I always thought I could get more experience working two jobs rather than one. While going through school I probably cooked more than I slept. I was working almost 100 hours a week.”
Culinary instructor Kayleen Moon said Travis definitely showed initiative.
“He commuted for class and had better attendance than those who lived in town,” she laughed. “I’m so impressed that he got a job as a head chef with a certificate. He asked a lot of questions in class and cross-trained outside of school. It screams potential.”
Duttry, a Brownwood resident, chose TSTC for its proximity to home and traveled to school in Abilene.
“TSTC was the closest school to me, and I didn’t want to owe a lot of money when I graduated,” Duttry said.
He enjoyed his experience at TSTC.
“Chef Kayleen Moon was awesome. She was very informative,” Duttry said. “I always felt like I learned as much in school as I learned out of school. There are certain things I learned there that I would have never learned in a small town, like the classic mother sauces and steak au poivre. Stuff like that I never would have learned in a small town, but I got to learn those skills there, use those in the professional world and build on what I learned in school.”
Duttry enjoys cooking what he likes to eat.
“Anything that’s Italian; Mexican food, and I don’t mean Tex-Mex, but traditional Mexican food; upscale bar food; and classic comfort food — that’s what I like to cook.”
Set to open Friday, the downtown San Antonio location will be the second store for La Panadería and will be located at 301 E. Houston St.
Duttry recommends that culinary arts students and aspiring chefs get as much experience as they can.
“Do your best in school and outside of school,” he said. “Try to find a nicer restaurant to work in so you can implement what you learned in school. The things you learn at work and in school, they’re going to build off of each other. And you make money while you’re doing it!”
TSTC is registering now for the fall semester. For more information on TSTC’s Culinary Arts program, visit tstc.edu.
(BROWNWOOD) – Charles Marr still finds himself in a classroom, but not getting a grade for academic work.
Marr, 29, began work in mid-May as a campus technician at the Brownwood Independent School District. Marr graduated in late April with an associate degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration at Texas State Technical College in Brownwood.
He troubleshoots and repairs technology issues primarily at Brownwood Intermediate School and works elsewhere in the school district when needed. As the school year ends, Marr said he and his co-workers will work on upgrades and repairs to computers throughout the summer. He will also work on a CompTIA certification.
“Stay open-minded and be optimistic, and there is nothing really you should ever consider out of your reach,” Marr said.
Marr began growing comfortable with computers when he was in elementary school.
“It was more than just figuring out how to play solitaire,” he said. “A buddy of mine and I would mess with computers at his house and tear them apart and play with them.”
Marr graduated in 2005 from Brownwood High School. He joined the U.S. Army and was a combat engineer stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He also lived in Houston before returning to Brown County.
“Moving back here wasn’t in the cards initially. But in coming back and graduating, it was actually easy because Brownwood is kind of a small town, but not what it used to be,” Marr said. “Everyone knows everybody, and that makes it easier.”
Qualities he learned in the military, such as discipline and commitment, helped him succeed in college.
“At the same time, I had to develop patience with people around me,” Marr said.
Renee Blackshear, an instructor in TSTC’s Computer Networking and Systems Administration program, said she was impressed with Marr’s helpfulness and graciousness.
“As a veteran, Charles is determined to be successful with any task he undertakes,” she said.
While at TSTC, Marr participated in SkillsUSA and placed third statewide in the telecommunications cabling contest.
“Charles distinguished himself by consistently demonstrating knowledge and expertise with course content, completing hands-on projects with ease, and submitting exceptionally well-researched and well-written documentation on various topics,” said Blackshear. “Charles is highly intelligent and has good analytical and communication skills.”
TSTC in Brownwood will have Registration Rally events for the fall semester from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 7, July 7 and Aug. 8.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.
(BROWNWOOD) – You can do anything you set your mind to. That is what Marlen Longoria, who will graduate from Texas State Technical College on Friday, believes. The Santa Anna, Texas, resident grew up in Acuna, Coahuila, Mexico, and moved to Texas in 2009.
“Two or three years ago, I got my GED, thanks to my mother-in-law,” Longoria said. “She always encouraged me to start again, to get my driver’s license first and then to get my GED. She said, ‘Well, you have a brain. You can go to college.’”
Longoria did some research, found TSTC online and visited the campus. She chose to study TSTC’s Software & Business Management Accounting.
“One day we came here to look for information,” she said. “I took two years of accounting in Mexico, and that’s why I decided to study it here. I like it.”
Longoria served as vice president of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges and academic programs, and was a member of the Student Government Association. She will graduate with a 4.0 GPA. While she was part of the SGA, the group established a food and clothing pantry on campus to help other students.
“We always try to do community service,” Longoria said. “This year we have more members and we’re really active.”
Longoria will join nearly 150 other students from TSTC’s West Texas campuses in walking the stage at the spring commencement ceremony, which will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at the Abilene Civic Center.
After graduating, Longoria plans to attend Howard Payne University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She chose one word to describe her experience at TSTC: awesome.
“It’s so much more than I expected,” she said. “The people here are great. They always have a smile on their faces and they always made me feel a part of it. My English isn’t great — it’s not my first language — but they always made me feel comfortable. The instructors have always been patient with me. It’s been a great experience, and they gave me the confidence to continue my education!”
Longoria offered some words of advice to TSTC students and those considering TSTC.
“Never give up,” Longoria said. “There’s no problem that is bigger than your dreams.”
TSTC in Brownwood is currently enrolling for all programs, including Chemical Dependency Counseling, Computer Aided Drafting & Design, Computer Networking & Systems Administration, Database & Web Programming, Emergency Medical Services, LVN-RN Transition, Medical Office Specialist, Software Accounting & Management and Welding. Summer registration continues through May 1. Fall registration ends Aug. 21.
For more information on TSTC and programs available, visit tstc.edu.
(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College officials and community leaders broke ground on the college’s newest venture in Abilene on Thursday, April 20. The ceremony, held at 1717 Navajo Trail, marked the start of construction on a 56,000-square-foot Industrial Technology Center that will be the first of a multibuilding campus.
The college is excited for the opportunity to better serve the community with access to advanced technical education that can lead to great career opportunities.
“Our campus expansion in Abilene will support industry growth and expand the city’s economy while reducing the ever-widening midlevel skills gap,” said Rick Denbow, senior field development officer at TSTC. “This groundbreaking marks a new era for TSTC in Abilene and in West Texas.”
The Development Corporation of Abilene, Dodge Jones Foundation, Dian Graves Owen Foundation, Shelton Family Foundation, City of Abilene and community leaders have invested $6 million toward the project, which will allow TSTC to add programs in Industrial Maintenance, Welding, and Electrical Power & Controls and will house its growing Emergency Medical Services program.
“These programs were chosen from analyzing data from the Rick Perryman study where we looked at economic growth across the state and what the needs were in those particular areas,” said TSTC Executive Vice Chancellor and COO Elton Stuckly Jr. “We also did some research of our own and selected the programs based on the needs of the community and this region.”
Abilene Mayor Norm Archibald, a longtime supporter of TSTC, was quick to jump on the opportunity for a new TSTC.
“Who are the winners in all of this?” Archibald asked the crowd at the event. “First of all, construction jobs will be made. People that live in our community will be out here working. That’s good. Students will come to this campus and learn skills and go out and get a job that they can be proud of. They’re one of the winners. The workforce helps bring in businesses that think, ‘I’m thinking of coming to Abilene. Do you have the workers I need to make this business work?’ The answer will be yes.”
The Development Corporation of Abilene (DCOA) was among the first to invest in the new campus.
“The DCOA went through an extensive strategic planning process and identified 10 goals we want to focus on,” DCOA Chairman Dave Copeland said. “One of those goals was to build a more highly skilled workforce. Another was to support our existing businesses’ growth and prosperity. The businesses in this town are closely linked to the workforce. We feel that this new facility takes us a long way toward those goals.”
Stuckly stressed the importance of building relationships.
“TSTC is known for providing a skilled workforce for Texas, but of course everything you do takes money,” he said. “Without the support of the county, the city, the DCOA, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Denbow shared the same sentiments.
“TSTC has a reputation of doing great things,” said Denbow, “Growing businesses, growing the economy, transforming lives — but we can’t do any of that without you.”
The new building is expected to open in the summer of 2018. For more information on Texas State Technical College and the programs currently offered, visit tstc.edu.
(SWEETWATER) – Local high school students had the opportunity to work side-by-side with Texas State Technical College Automotive Technology students during the college’s first Auto Tech Day.
The event was focused on recruiting students to TSTC’s Automotive Maintenance and Repair dual enrollment pathway – an educational initiative that allows high school students to take college courses.
“We want to make sure students are aware of the college opportunities available to them while still in high school,” said TSTC Manager of Dual Enrollment for West Texas Rene Rolston.
Students at the event were treated to breakfast and got to hear from TSTC West Texas Campus Provost Eliska Smith, TSTC Automotive Instructor Henry Ortega, TSTC Automotive Division Director Mark Koslan and TSTC Automotive Advisory Board member and owner of J&M Automotive in Sweetwater Josh Waldon.
After presentations, the high school students were paired with TSTC students to get hands-on experience in areas such as air conditioning, diagnostics, brake repair and engine maintenance and repair.
“When choosing a career path it’s important to know what you’re getting into,” said Rolston. “And there’s no better way than having an event dedicated to exposing students to a field and giving them an opportunity to experience it hands on.”
Rolston said she hopes this event will encourage students to pursue this pathway because there are benefits to enrolling in dual enrollment courses.
“When a student enrolls in dual enrollment they are saving themselves time and money in the future,” she said. “When they complete the pathway they have one semester under their belt.”
TSTC currently has 43 school districts that are utilizing the dual enrollment pathway for its junior and senior high school students in Sweetwater and surrounding counties, including nine online pathways for those who are too far to travel to campus.
Dual enrollment classes are typically offered Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on the TSTC campus.
“We have students as far as 250 miles away taking dual enrollment courses through TSTC,” said Rolston. “So our online pathways make dual enrollment a reality with us when students live too far but want to take advantage of this great partnership.”
For more information on the dual enrollment Automotive Technology pathway call 325-235-7319 or go online at tstc.edu.
(SWEETWATER) – Texas State Technical College Housing student Zachary Reece will be having a little extra money in his pocket beginning Fall 2017.
TSTC has announced it will reduce the cost of living on campus between $130 and $140 to assist students in lowering their expenses.
Reece, a Diesel Equipment Technology student pursuing a certificate, says that being a full-time student means living on a tight budget. .
The Olney native has lived in a dorm at TSTC since January and said he is glad the college is doing something extra to help its students.
“We know that college is a big investment,” said TSTC West Texas Housing Director Jose Navarrette. “And we believe this change will help students save some money and focus more on school.”
Like Reece there are another 216 students living on TSTC’s Sweetwater campus working toward the same goal: finishing college.
“Our goal as a college is to graduate students and get them good paying jobs,” said Navarrette. “We feel that by alleviating some of the financial stress, they’ll fulfill their goals and that of the college.”
Associate Vice Chancellor of Auxiliary Administration Kevin Dorton said the initiative of reducing housing costs began about a year ago as a way to spur enrollment.
“This is a cost-savings solution for our incoming and current students,” said Dorton. “Our goal is to offer our students affordable housing options. In return, we believe this will increase our enrollment and the number of students living on campus.”
Students in Sweetwater have housing options: a dorm room and student apartments such as Bluebonnet Inn, all of which are shared with other students. Those living on campus also have a meal plan included in their rental package. Internet, cable and utilities are also included.
“Our goal is give our students a comfortable place to call home,” said Navarrette. “We want them to be relaxed and have food on their tables so they can enjoy college.”
Dorton said the housing cost reduction is isolated to West Texas at the moment, but there are studies and research being done for the college’s other campuses.
For more information on TSTC Housing call 325-235-7368.
Registration for Summer and Fall 2017 is already in progress. For more information on TSTC programs offered near you go online at tstc.edu.
(BRECKENRIDGE) – Mercedes Burkhart, 23, of Stamford is studying Vocational Nursing at Texas State Technical College in Breckenridge and is scheduled to graduate with a certificate in December. She is a 2012 graduate of Stamford High School in Jones County.
Is helping people in their times of need instilled in your family? “I’ve always been in health care. I watched my mother, who was a social worker, work with her cases. Nobody in my family is a nurse, but I knew I wanted to help people.”
How did you learn about TSTC in Breckenridge? “I’m already a certified nursing assistant and I work at Hendrick Health System in Abilene. After years of schooling, I decided to complete something. I wanted to get some type of certificate. My fiance’s stepmother works at the campus in recruiting. She talked to me about TSTC and the Vocational Nursing program in general. I heard more by word of mouth and applied. When I turned my packet in, that’s when I saw the campus for the first time.”
What is a typical week like for you? “We wear scrubs to clinicals. I work Sunday nights and have class at 1 p.m. on Mondays. Tuesdays are all-day classes until 4 p.m. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, I do clinicals at Cisco Nursing and Rehabilitation (in Eastland County), so I have to wake up at 4 a.m. and drive from Abilene to Cisco. On Fridays we do not have classes, so I catch up on homework and then go back to work on the weekends.I also do a lot of volunteer work.”
Did you participate in SkillsUSA Texas’ state contests held in late March at TSTC in Waco? “I gave a prepared speech in which I picked three topics and combined them into a five- to seven-minute speech. I did Family, Career and Community Leaders of America in high school, which was a lot like this. I was the first person from Stamford to go to FCCLA’s national competition twice.”
What advice would you give to high school students thinking about college and careers? “I wish someone had told me about technical schools instead of four-year universities. Coming from a smaller town to a large university was a culture shock. You should actually look into your options and don’t let someone push you where they need you to go. Go where you feel comfortable.”
Texas had more than 78,000 licensed practical and vocational nurses in spring 2016, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Woodlands-Houston-Sugar Land area had the largest concentration of vocational and practical nurses in the state, with more than 12,800 employed.
There were more than 70 full-time licensed vocational nurses in Stephens County as of September 2016, according to the most recent information from the Texas Board of Nursing. Most of the county’s licensed vocational nurses worked in general practices, geriatrics, surgical areas and home health. Jones County had more than 130 full-time licensed vocational nurses as of September 2016, according to the state board of nursing.
For more information on TSTC’s Vocational Nursing or other technical programs, go to tstc.edu.