Category Archives: West Texas

Longtime TSTC in Sweetwater Employee Recognized with Statewide Award

(SWEETWATER) – Patricia Carpio is one of the first people prospective students meet when they start the registration process at Texas State Technical College.

Carpio, 46, is a support services specialist who administers the Texas Success Initiative Assessment to determine students are ready to start regular classes. She also proctors nursing and automotive technology tests, along with midterm and final exams.

“I am the contact for all four West Texas campuses for testing issues,” Carpio said.

She also works with new student orientations and open house activities.

“I love coming to work each day because I feel like I play a small part in so many students’ lives by getting them started on their paths to their future,” Carpio said. “I get to know the students in the beginning, and when I see them at the end when they are graduating, it gives me happiness knowing that they have accomplished something so important to them.”

Carpio was recently named a TSTC Chancellor’s Excellence Award recipient for her contributions to the technical college. She was the only employee from TSTC’s four West Texas campuses to receive the honor. She and 15 other TSTC employees statewide will be honored later this month at the National Institute for Staff and Organization Development awards dinner and celebration in Austin.

“I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve never gotten an award like this,’” Carpio said of her first reaction to learning she was a recipient. “I was in shock. I am so blessed to work with such great people.”

Some of the people in the Sears Building where Carpio works commended her helpfulness, caring and outgoing personality.

“I need to learn pointers from her because she is so friendly with everyone,” said Irma Ortiz, TSTC’s curriculum specialist. “She gets along well with anybody. She can always strike up a conversation with any student to make them feel at home.”

Mandy Rhoades, a TSTC success coach and substitute testing administrator, said Carpio has a way with students.

“She is the best,” Rhoades said. “She is really good at talking to them. She has a great way of putting a positive spin on things when students may not have done well on the tests. She is good with positive reinforcement.”

Carpio began her work at TSTC in work-study in 2003 and was hired full-time in 2005.

“TSTC gives so many people the opportunity to further their education and to achieve a goal that some think is not within their reach, but what they don’t realize is that TSTC is the portal to their future career,” she said.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001 and has been given to about 300 statewide TSTC employees. Recipients are nominated by their peers for their work toward advancing the technical college’s mission.

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TSTC West Texas Campuses Seeking Welding Instructors

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College is looking for motivational people who can put a spark in the lives of Welding Technology students.

TSTC’s campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge and Brownwood are seeking three qualified welding instructors with a combination of professional and teaching experience.

“We are always looking for awesome people to join our TSTC team,” said Rhiannon Hastings, lead statewide recruiter in TSTC Human Resources. “We truly value hands-on experience in industry to provide the best learning experiences possible for our students at TSTC.”

Starting this fall, TSTC in Abilene will offer the Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology and two certificates.

TSTC in Breckenridge offers a three-semester certificate in structural welding and accepts up to 20 students each semester.

“If you like small-town living, a great place to raise a family and a place where everybody knows everybody, it can work for you,” said Debbie Karl, executive director of the Breckenridge campus.

TSTC in Brownwood can accommodate 28 structural welding certificate students.

“We need someone with experience,” said Raquel Mata, executive director of the Brownwood campus. “We would like to have someone well known to the businesses and can meet and greet and have moments with them to get to know them. We want someone to be a good fit for our students and be a good leader.”

Applicants need to have current American Welding Society certifications and  experience in shielded metal arc, flux-cored arc, gas metal arc and gas tungsten arc welding processes, along with fabrication, layout and pipe welding. Applicants having an associate degree in welding are preferred.

TSTC is a state institution offering Health Select of Texas administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, paid vacation days, sick leave and state holidays, dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, flexible spending accounts and retirement. The technical college also offers employee development and employee appreciation events as part of its overarching goal to make TSTC a great place to work.

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TSTC Students in Abilene to Receive Scholarships in New Programs

(ABILENE) – Students enrolling in three new technical programs this fall at Texas State Technical College in Abilene will receive a financial boost.

TSTC will give $1,000 scholarships to the first 20 students joining the Welding program and the first 40 students in both the Electrical Power and Controls and Industrial Maintenance programs.

“There are high-demand jobs in and around the area,” said Kimberly Porter, vice president of student recruitment at TSTC in Abilene. “For anyone in West Texas, they don’t have to go to the Metroplex for these industries.”

The technical programs will be taught in the Industrial Technology Center nearing completion on Loop 322 next to Abilene Regional Airport.

“I just think it is exciting because it is making a bigger footprint in Abilene,” Porter said. “The community is super-excited to have us here. It is a way for the students to stay closer to home and contribute to their local economy.”

Students must be enrolled by July 20 to get on the scholarship list. Once fully enrolled, a TSTC admissions or recruiting staff member will contact students letting them know about the money they will receive, Porter said. Students who receive the scholarship do not need to be Pell Grant eligible. The money can only be used only for the fall 2018 semester.

Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in West Texas, said the scholarships are aimed at breaking down enrollment barriers.

“There is no question that the scholarship money will help the students,” he said. “We have three new programs that we have not offered before in Abilene. This reiterates the college’s commitment to helping the new campus start off real strong.”

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TSTC Holds Spring 2018 Commencement in Abilene

(ABILENE) – More than 80 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Spring 2018 Commencement held Friday, April 27, at the Abilene Convention Center.

Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater, began the ceremony with a tribute to TSTC President Emeritus Homer K. Taylor of Sweetwater, who died earlier in the day at age 83.

“He would be extremely happy for you to celebrate the success of the students,” Denbow told the audience.

Texas Rep. Stan Lambert, R-Abilene, was the keynote speaker. He told those gathered about his first job as a 9-year-old washing windshields at his father’s full-service filling station. He said it was a great experience in public relations.

“You can’t replace kindness in the world,” Lambert said.

Lambert said for graduates to be successful, they need to do four things: have something to do, someone to love, something to believe in and something to hope for.

“What do you hope is the next chapter in life?” Lambert asked the graduates.

Lambert advised graduates to be honest, read the Bible, do the right things in life, have a good attitude and not to hold grudges.

“It’s important at this time to have a positive attitude,” he said.

Lambert said he admired how West Texas residents came together for the TSTC in Sweetwater students affected by the Bluebonnet Inn dormitory fire earlier this year.

Several of Friday’s graduates already have jobs.

Johnathan McCarthy, 28, of Abilene graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology. He is already working as a wind technician at Invenergy LLC in Nolan.

“I got out of the Marine Corps and needed an exciting job that is stable,” McCarthy said. “Wind Energy Technology was new and different, but I knew I could do it.”

Some graduates are job searching.

Cameron Hartgraves, 26, of Abilene was a Phi Theta Kappa graduate who earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration. He wants to stay in the area for employment.

But, this was not Hartgraves’ first college graduation. He already has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hardin-Simmons University.

“I more or less figured out that I could fix computers better than people,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the ADN Pinning Ceremony for TSTC in Sweetwater nursing graduates took place at an Abilene church.

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Taylor Remembered for Bringing Higher Education to Nolan County

(SWEETWATER) – Homer K. Taylor of Sweetwater left a legacy not only at Texas State Technical College, but also throughout Nolan County.

Taylor, who died today at age 83, is being remembered for his lasting contributions and many years of service to TSTC.

TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser commented on Taylor’s enduring importance to the college.

“Homer Taylor served our college for close to 30 years, and it’s impossible to overstate the impact he had on our successes. We owe much of our prosperity to his leadership,” Reeser said. “On behalf of the entire TSTC family, I offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Beth, his children, and the Taylor family.”

Glen Bedgood, a professional development officer at TSTC in Sweetwater, noted Taylor’s foresight when it came to matching education with industry needs.

“Homer was a visionary in many respects,” Bedgood said. “He was well ahead of the wind industry in West Texas, implementing a wind energy technician program at TSTC in concert with the construction of the first turbines in the area. Graduates of the training program have enjoyed a high placement rate for years.”

Taylor worked for TSTC from 1970 until his retirement in 2005. During that time, he was an assistant campus manager, manager of instruction, dean of instruction, manager of development, college president and vice chancellor of the TSTC system. The TSTC Board of Regents later gave him the elite distinction of naming him president emeritus.

“Homer was always thinking about growing the impact of TSTC,” Bedgood said. “Any time that I traveled with him, he would leave his business card with everyone he met, telling them that they owed it to themselves or their kids or friends to look into TSTC as a life-changing investment.”

Bedgood recalled that some of his earliest memories of Taylor were of greeting him at church on Sunday mornings.

“I listened to him pray and teach Sunday school,” he said. “He was investing in me. Years later, he hired me, or at least suggested that I apply for an opening at the college, and continued to invest in me as an employee. When I started my family and was trying to make a little extra money on the side, he would buy my artwork.”

Among the many people on whom Taylor made a positive impact is Maria Aguirre, TSTC interim senior executive director of Communication and Creative Services.

“I met Mr. Taylor in early summer 1984,” said Aguirre. “I attended what was then TSTI, and shortly after I arrived, Mr. Taylor hired me as a PBX operator. After graduation, he encouraged me to apply for a Student Recruitment position, and through the years he promoted me to other positions within the college. Long story short, nearly 34 years later, I am still very proud to be part of TSTC. He was a true mentor, teacher and friend. I will miss him dearly.”

Taylor taught high school in Jayton and Sweetwater for 11 years.

“Homer was my high school English teacher,” said J.V. Martin, a former member of the TSTC Board of Regents and a founding board member of the Nolan County Foundation. “Homer was very close to me. He was a student’s ideal teacher as far as his personality. He was young enough at that time. He was not much older than the students. It was like having a student-teacher teaching you.”

Taylor was public relations director for Sweetwater Public Schools (now Sweetwater Independent School District) when he was asked to serve on the Sweetwater Study and Survey Committee for the Utilization of Air Base Facilities, which formed when the Sweetwater Air Force Radar Station was deactivated in fall 1969, according to TSTC historical accounts.

A group of committee members met with Dr. Roy Dugger, then vice president of Texas A&M University and director of the James Connally Technical Institute (now TSTC) in Waco, about opening a technical campus on the grounds of the former radar station.

Taylor’s first role at the Sweetwater facility of the Texas State Technical Institute was as an assistant manager starting in 1970. He, along with D.A. Pevehouse, facility manager, and two office employees, worked in the old Texas Bank Building in Sweetwater. Taylor saw the campus later become the Rolling Plains Campus of TSTI and Texas State Technical College West Texas.

“He was always so friendly and talking to everybody and anybody that was here on campus,” said Lupe Deloera, a human resources senior specialist at TSTC in Sweetwater. “He was such a smart guy and always had his door open if we had any questions. We felt like we could ask him anything. We felt so comfortable around him.”

TSTC in Sweetwater honored Taylor in 2006 by renaming College Drive as Homer K. Taylor Drive.

“He followed my career and has been an encouragement to me long after his retirement,” Bedgood said. “I get to remember him every day as I turn onto Homer K. Taylor Drive heading to my office at TSTC.”

After his retirement, Taylor helped create the Nolan County Foundation, which has given about $300,000 to Nolan County students attending Texas colleges. The foundation has also supported Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital and Sweetwater Municipal Auditorium, Martin said.

Taylor earned an associate degree from Cisco Junior College, as well as a bachelor’s degree in education and English and a Master of Education degree from Hardin-Simmons University.

He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities by Hardin-Simmons University in 2011.

TSTC in West Texas Earns Gold Medals at State SkillsUSA Postsecondary Conference

(SWEETWATER) – Kacee Merrifield knows how to be twice as nice when it comes to winning.

Merrifield, 30, a Vocational Nursing major at Texas State Technical College in Breckenridge, won her second consecutive gold medal in Nurse Assisting at the SkillsUSA Postsecondary State Leadership and Skills Conference held April 5-7 in Waco.

“Honestly, to get gold two years in a row is awesome,” said Merrifield, a Mineral Wells native now living in Breckenridge. “I never thought I would get it once, much less twice. It’s a great confidence booster. And, it pushes you to want to be better in your skill and trade.”

TSTC in Breckenridge won two gold medals, four silver medals and four bronze medals at the state conference.TSTC in Brownwood received one gold medal and three silver medals.  TSTC in Sweetwater captured six gold medals, two silver medals and one bronze medal. TSTC in Abilene also participated in Culinary Arts but did not finish in the top three.

Gold medalists are now eligible to compete at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in late June in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Last year the state and nationals were life changing,” Merrifield said. “At each level, you have the opportunity to meet people from all different places and make new friends.”

Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater, said it was an honor to have so many students traveling to the national conference.

“It speaks to the quality of our instructors and making sure the students are successful,” he said.

Ashley Schroeder, 26, a TSTC in Sweetwater Nursing major from Llano now living in Abilene, was excited about her gold medal in Medical Assisting.

“I feel honored to have had the opportunity to participate in SkillsUSA and to compete with members from West Texas,” she said. “Never did I expect to have come away with a gold medal.”

Schroeder is already thinking about her trip to Kentucky.

“I am so excited about going to Louisville and competing,” she said. “For nationals, studying has already begun. I plan to go into it as prepared and ready as possible.”

Other gold medalists from the West Texas campuses are:

TSTC in Breckenridge: Medical Math: Corbin Calsoncin

TSTC in Brownwood: Technical Computer Applications: Alexander Oldham

TSTC in Sweetwater: First Aid-CPR: Ryan Ostrander; Health Knowledge Bowl: Priscilla Green, Erica Jones, Brittney Rivera, Christa Valdivia

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New Industrial Maintenance Program at TSTC to Fill a Need for West Texas

(ABILENE) – Some of the most sizzling careers right now in West Texas are in the industrial maintenance field, and Texas State Technical College is poised to fill the need.

TSTC in Abilene will offer the new Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Maintenance – Mechanical Specialization at the Industrial Technology Center opening this fall on Loop 322 next to Abilene Regional Airport. Students will learn about electrical theory, industrial maintenance, blueprint reading, hydraulics, pneumatics and other topics in the heavily hands-on program.

Shea Hopkins, director of talent management at the Abilene Industrial Foundation, recently took a tour of the ITC.

“It was looking good,” she said. “I think it’s exciting to have something like this in Abilene, and I think the students will be excited about it.”

Hopkins said one of the first questions prospective companies ask is if skilled labor can be found to fill available positions.

“What I like about industrial maintenance is it is the most comprehensive,” Hopkins said. “It gives the students a little bit of everything. It is not as specific as some of the other degrees. It makes for well-rounded employees, and the companies can use them for a lot of different jobs so they can use those skills.”

Graduates can use the associate degree to become millwrights, industrial motor control technicians, and electrical and electronics installers and repairers.

Electro-mechanical technicians and industrial maintenance mechanics are considered in-demand occupations in the region, according to Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas.

Steve Collins, business and resource consultant at Workforce Solutions, said there are more than 800 job openings now in the wind farm, oil and gas and manufacturing sectors in Callahan, Jones and Taylor counties for installation, repair and maintenance. The number can shift almost daily as hiring is done and jobs are open.

Collins said TSTC’s Industrial Maintenance program will be helpful to fill employment needs.

“The more education you can get, the better qualified you are,” he said.

Joe Tiner, chief engineer at Texas Healthcare Linen in Abilene, said he needs maintenance technicians who can read blueprints and troubleshoot electrical problems quickly and know how to fix machinery. He said it was great that students will get to study Industrial Maintenance in Abilene.

“Those are the guys that TSTC will produce and give them a baseline of what they need to do once they are in the field,” he said. “That is how I learned.”

The high-tech laundry company works with hospitals in Abilene and throughout West Texas to clean their 14 million pounds of laundry per year.

“We work long shifts, five days a week, and are at only about 50 percent of our capacity,” Tiner said. “We have been growing.”

The new Industrial Maintenance program has also piqued the interest of area companies.

Acme Brick, based in Fort Worth, has a production plant in Lubbock and retail brick, tile and stone stores in Abilene, Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland and San Angelo.

“That would be a nice place to look,” Yulonda Charles, Acme Brick’s human resources manager, said about TSTC in Abilene. “I do partner with TSTC on most of their campuses. We are looking for trainees coming out of TSTC, but they need to be open to moving where we have a plant.”

West Texas Industrial Engines Inc. in San Angelo specializes in engine overhauls, field services, machine shop services and other work for the oil and gas field.

“The problem with filling jobs is San Angelo’s unemployment rate is less than 3 percent, so our opportunities to fill positions in the industrial field are very limited,” said C. Alan McClain, the company’s president and chief executive officer and a TSTC in Sweetwater alumnus.

He said it was exciting that TSTC in Abilene was expanding its technical offerings with the Industrial Maintenance program.

“I think it will be outstanding,” McClain said. “Anything we can do to help get people in the skilled trades and get them an education and place them in skilled trade jobs would be great.”

The Industrial Maintenance program will be offered in Abilene pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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Sweetwater Company Provides Financial Support for TSTC Veteran-Students

(SWEETWATER) – A Sweetwater company is providing scholarship dollars to military veterans who are studying at Texas State Technical College’s four West Texas campuses.

EMA Electromechanics, an international maker of equipment for the clean wind energy sector, has given $150,000 since 2015 for the Sweetwater Veteran’s Funds for College Education. The funds go toward helping veterans completing their technical education at TSTC in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater.

Rick Denbow, provost of the TSTC campuses in West Texas, said the company’s manager, Gabriel Acosta, saw an unfilled need in helping veterans go to college.

“He is very passionate, and the organization is very passionate about helping TSTC,” Denbow said.

Two of the scholarship’s recipients said it has helped ease financial worries as they study at TSTC.

Stanley West, 47, of Brownwood is a U.S. Army veteran working on a certificate in Structural Welding at TSTC in Brownwood. He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and scheduled to graduate in August.

“I’ve been welding for 20- plus years, but I didn’t have a certificate,” West said. “For me, it was learning the language, because I could perform the welds already but did not know what they were called.”

He said the scholarship, along with other funding he is receiving, has been put to good use. The money has enabled him to meet other people through his classes.

“My books alone cost $500,” he said. “I couldn’t afford to go to school because I’m on a fixed income. It’s been a major help and keeps me busy during the week instead of sitting at home and being reclusive.”

West was the fourth of 10 kids raised on a ranch in Cisco and is a 1989 graduate of Cisco High School. He was in the Army National Guard in high school and after graduation went on active duty. He served in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

The EMA scholarship is also helping Paul Weaver, 43, of Abilene. He is a Computer Networking and Systems Administration major at TSTC in Abilene scheduled to graduate in August.

“It was something I had a higher interest in,” Weaver said. “I taught myself how to build a computer while I was on deployment.”

He said the scholarship has enabled him to learn how to improve wireless connections and technology infrastructure.

“It’s a lot more than I expected, but I have enjoyed everything I have learned,” Weaver said.

Weaver grew up in Florida. He spent roughly 13 years in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Dyess Air Force Base and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. He also served two deployments in Qatar.

“My wife fell in love with Abilene, so after Las Vegas, we came back here,” Weaver said. “I had been wanting to go back to school. I went back to work as a correctional officer for two years, and then I worked for the post office for two days.”

Weaver went on to work for a call center and then was hired at Lowe’s where he works an overnight shift. After his workday ends, he helps has 14-year-old son get ready for school, goes to classes at TSTC and eventually sleeps when his wife gets home from work at Dyess.

After graduation, Weaver said he wants to stay in the Abilene area and work in information technology. He also wants to work on industry certifications.

EMA Electromechanics was founded in 1952 in Argentina. The company’s VDH Series Vacuum Circuit Breaker was first sold in the United States in 2003. The company began its American operations in 2010 in Sweetwater.

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TSTC Program to Change Degree Format, Offer Scholarships this Fall

(ABILENE) – A technical program at Texas State Technical College in Abilene will undergo a name change and bring with it an opportunity for students to earn scholarships this fall.

The Computer Aided Drafting program will be changed to Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology and convert to an online associate degree plan. The change is aimed at preparing students in parametric modeling and design, mechanical drafting, residential architectural drafting, topographical drafting and other skills.

“With this new associate degree, we will be more specialized,” said Justin Price, an instructor in the Computer Aided Drafting program at TSTC in Abilene. “We will focus more on architecture and engineering.”

Price said the name change will make it easier to explain to potential students what fields can be pursued with the associate degree. Some of the careers are in architectural, civil and mechanical drafting. He said program graduates have been hired in Abilene, Dallas, Fort Worth, Midland and Odessa.

“Our industry partners told us what we should be teaching our students for mechanical, architectural, piping and civil drafting,” said David Campos, TSTC’s statewide Architecture and Drafting Division director. “They responded to our call and said, ‘We hire your students, and it would be nice in the future if you started teaching this.’ We ended up adding a few more classes because technology changes so much.”

The program has received a $50,000 Fast Start IV grant from the Texas Workforce Commission. The money will supply $5,000 scholarships to 10 students enrolled in the online component of the Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology this fall at TSTC in Abilene. To be eligible for the scholarship, students in the program must take 12 or more semester credit hours, demonstrate financial need and write an essay on a topic relevant to architecture or engineering.

The application and essay deadline for the scholarship is July 2.

“We have identified a lot of potential students that are working in the industry that either are lacking one, two, three classes that can get the degree or maybe they are doing a different type of work in the industry,” Campos said. “By taking these courses online, they can move up the ladder.”

This fall’s program name and curriculum change will also occur at TSTC in Brownwood and Sweetwater. Students now enrolled in the Computer Aided Drafting program can complete their degree in the current hybrid format.

Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology will be part of TSTC Online, a group of technical programs that students can learn online. The other online programs include Business Management Technology, Cyber Security, Digital Media Design and Health Information Technology.

“The growth in TSTC Online programs has come in response to student demand for availability, flexibility and convenience,” said Gina Cano-Monreal, TSTC’s associate vice president for online learning. “Faculty developing courses for TSTC Online programs are the same faculty that teach our quality face-to-face courses. They work extremely hard to develop engaging courses that give our online students a positive learning environment and the sense of community we want all of our TSTC students to experience.”

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TSTC in Sweetwater Hosts Industry Job Fair for Students

(SWEETWATER) – More than 150 Texas State Technical College students learned about job opportunities at the Industry Job Fair held Tuesday morning on the Sweetwater campus.

Roughly 30 employers that attended looked for students to fill welding, industrial painting, drafting and other jobs in high demand.

Robert Schneider, 26, an Automotive Technician certificate major from San Angelo, visited the event to continue job hunting before his April graduation.

“The event is a good thing,” he said. “These young kids need to look at their options and see what is out there.”

Erika Luneau, director of human resources for Koenig and Bauer in Irving, said she was looking out for students studying electrical and mechanical fields who want to do a one-year apprenticeship in Germany and then work for the company. The German company specializes in making printing presses.

“We have been working with TSTC over the last year,” Luneau said. “We have visited several campuses and like the programs. We like how students learn theory and do hands-on. We need to find someone who is adventurous and is okay with the lifestyle of traveling most of the time.”

Christa Valdivia, 28, a nursing major from Colorado City, said it was her first employment event. She is scheduled to graduate in December.

“I actually was curious about occupational nursing,” she said. “I got some information on civilian nursing. I feel like the job fair gives us a leg up. It’s just for TSTC.”

Heather Kumpe, economic development specialist for the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, was also representing the San Angelo Regional Manufacturers Alliance. Kumpe had a lot to talk about with students. She said San Angelo has more than 80 manufacturers and a 3.2 percent unemployment rate.

Kumpe said specific San Angelo employers were seeking nurses, mechanics and industrial sandblasters.

“Our job is to get more companies to come to San Angelo,” Kumpe said. “But, we need the workers. This is the first time we have done a job fair.”

Employees from ONE Gas, a natural gas distribution company with more than two million customers in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, brought a mobile telemetry unit used to monitor pressure at oil and gas locations and a field meter set to show students.

Tony Peterson, a foreman for ONE Gas, said he was seeking job candidates to move to the Permian Basin to work.

“Retention is a challenge,” he said.

Some employer tables had TSTC alumni answering questions from students.

Brandi Riley, a registered nurse and outpatient/surgery services manager at Eastland Memorial Hospital in Eastland, graduated in 2017 from TSTC in Sweetwater. She said finding qualified nurses is a challenge.

“Working in a small facility, you know everyone,” Riley said. “I know the names of my patients and co-workers by first name.”

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