Category Archives: Sweetwater

President and CEO of Abilene Chamber of Commerce to Speak at TSTC Commencement

(ABILENE) – Doug Peters, president and CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, willspeak at the Texas State Technical College summer commencement ceremony, which starts at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 18, at the Abilene Civic Center.
Peters took on his current position of CEO in 2015. He oversees the strategic direction of the chamber and its affiliate organizations, including the Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council and the Abilene Industrial Foundation.
He totes up 30 years of experience in chamber of commerce and economic development environments, having begun his career in Dayton, Ohio. He later went on to work for chambers of commerce in Richmond, Indiana; Findlay, Ohio; and Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he also served on the Economic Alliance.

Peters is a member of the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives Association, the Grace Museum board, the Junior League of Fayetteville advisory board, the board of the United Way, and various other local, state and national organizations.

He is married to his lifelong sweetheart, Whitney, and together they have three children.

TSTC expects to award over 100 degrees and certificates across its four West Texas campuses Friday.

TSTC awards associate degrees and certificates in areas such as Aviation Maintenance, Computer-Aided Drafting & Design, Emergency Medical Services, Environmental Technology, Nursing, Welding, Wind Energy and more. The college is currently registering for the fall semester.

For more information on TSTC, visit

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Who: Texas State Technical College students, faculty and staff; Abilene Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Doug Peters
What: Texas State Technical College Summer Commencement Ceremony
When: Friday, Aug. 18, 7 p.m.
Where: Abilene Civic Center, 1100 N 6th St., Abilene

Two TSTC Employees in Sweetwater Earn Chancellor’s Excellence Award

(SWEETWATER) – Texas State Technical College has announced the recipients of this year’s Chancellor’s Excellence Award, and seven West Texas employees were honored. Of the seven, two employees from Sweetwater received the award.

This year’s Sweetwater award winners are Marina Wilcox, interim provost and vice president of Dual Enrollment, and Julie Browning, executive administrative assistant.

Browning has worked at TSTC for four years and said she was honored to receive the award.

“I guess I do my job well!” she laughed.

It is interaction with people that motivates her to come into work every day.

“I’m passionate about TSTC because of the people I work with and the students I work for,” Browning said.

Wilcox, who has worked at TSTC for a collective four years, felt the same sentiments.

“I was absolutely honored and humbled that my peers felt that I was worthy of this award and that I helped serve and lead them in a capacity that they felt was of benefit to them and the college,” she said.

Wilcox returned to TSTC in 2015, having previously worked at the college from 2007 to 2008.

“When I returned to TSTC, the college was on the ground level of going through the transition period of moving from separate colleges into one TSTC,” she said. “There was a great deal of change that was going on, on multiple levels.”

She was happy to guide her team through the shift.

“I’m glad I was able to be part of such an exciting transition and that I helped lead my team through that transition,” she said. “I’m glad they were able to see the positive effects the transition was having on the college in the present and where we’re going in the future. Every day is full of change and opportunities to be that servant-leader, to lead your team through the changes and to see the great effects it has in each of their areas.”

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001, and over the past 15 years more than 280 TSTC employees have received the honor. Recipients are chosen based on outstanding contributions and achievements, commitment to excellence and character. Honorees serve as agents of change in the advancement of TSTC initiatives.

TSTC touts itself as being “a great place to work” and is currently hiring for over 90 positions at its 10 campuses statewide. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit


TSTC Hosts First Auto Tech Day

(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 SweetwaterTSTC Auto Tech Day 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 Reduces Housing Costs to Help New, Current Students

(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. .

“I think what TSTC is doing is a really good idea,” said Reece. “This helps me lower my spending and any bit of money saved goes aTSTC Housing Reduces Costs long way when you’re a college student.”

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 Student Q&A with Devin Klar

(SWEETWATER) – Devin Klar, 20, of San Antonio is a Wind Energy Technology student at Texas State Technical College. Klar, a 2015 alumnus of Judson High School in Converse, is scheduled to graduate in May with an associate degree.

How did you pick your major? “I grew up going back and forth to the coast and saw the turbines. I jumped on the computer and started looking at schools to go to that offered classes. I started doing some digging around. My father was in Abilene for work, and he talked to some guys who worked for a wind company and they mentioned Texas State Technical College.”

How have you enjoyed attending TSTC? “It’s more than what I expected. It’s a lot of hands-on work with great information that I have learned. It’s been a great time going to school here.”

Have you worked through college? “I started working at the Nolan County Coliseum Complex in Sweetwater in the fall. I wait for people to come in and open up stalls for their animals. I make sure the stalls have the amount of shavings they ordered and make sure the visitors are happy with what they got. I have a pretty good work schedule. I have a son back in San Antonio and go back and forth every other weekend. It’s been a wonderful experience, and I’ve been very blessed to have what has been given to me here.”

What are you looking forward to in working in the wind energy field? “The future that it has, the large growth that it is capable of producing with renewable energy. It is the ability to travel, too, and lots of hands-on work.”

Texas had the most wind turbine service technicians in the nation in 2015 with more than 1,200 workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. West Texas and The Woodlands-Sugar Land-Houston area have the largest concentrations of wind energy workers in the state.

Wind Energy Technology is offered at TSTC’s campuses in Harlingen and Sweetwater. For more information, go to

Sweetwater Q&A Devin Klar


TSTC Students Look to Sweetwater Events Center as Source for Jobs

(SWEETWATER) – The Nolan County Coliseum Complex is giving Texas State Technical College students the opportunity to attend classes and learn about work quality and responsibility.

The multi-structure events venue on Coliseum Drive in Sweetwater has at least 12 TSTC students working varying hours depending on scheduled events. Some of March’s activities include a 4-H Club quilting show, a quinceanera, team roping competitions and a 4-H horse contest.

“They want gas money, they want food money, they want money for their education,” said Terry Locklar, the coliseum’s general manager, about his student workers. “These are the guys and females that have a goal in mind and know what it takes to achieve that goal. It’s been a great asset for us as far as having people you can count on and have that customer relations experience and that mindset of the harder work you do, the more you achieve.”

The students and more than 10 full-time and permanent part-time staff have been transforming the coliseum area this week from hosting junior high school and high school rodeos to getting ready for rattlesnakes. The Sweetwater Jaycees’ annual World’s Largest Rattlesnake Roundup will host more than 25,000 visitors from across Texas and the nation from Friday, March 10, to Sunday, March 12. The event, which has at least an $8 million annual economic impact on Nolan County, includes the Miss Snake Charmer Pageant, a flea market, a gun and knife show, roping contests and a carnival.

Saul Biscaino, 20, of Pleasanton and a fall 2016 Welding Technology graduate taking an extra welding class to learn more techniques this semester at TSTC, is looking forward to his first rattlesnake event. He works at least 30 hours a week and has been employed at the complex since last summer.

“It’s been a real good experience,” Biscaino said about his work. “When they have the rodeos, I am responsible for the financial paperwork and making sure everything that needs to be paid for is, and everything put out in the stalls gets put out.”

Biscaino has also done welded panels on livestock stalls and built countertops for sinks in new restrooms in the complex’s annex.

“I’m very fortunate,” he said. “I’m very grateful to the coliseum staff that gave me the opportunity to continue my classes and work here and get as many hours as I can.”

One of Biscaino’s co-workers, 20-year-old Devin Klar of San Antonio, has been working at the complex since the fall. Klar is a Wind Energy Technology major and is scheduled to graduate in May from TSTC.

This weekend, Klar will make sure trash is picked up and help out where needed on the grounds during the rattlesnake event.

“Working at the coliseum has taught me a lot,” he said. “It’s given me a lot of integrity, and we are given a lot of responsibility here. It is given to us with trust, and we get that trust very quickly. I am able to follow through and make decisions.”

Sweetwater Nolan County Coliseum March 9, 2017


Towering Opportunities Available in Wind Energy

2677(SWEETWATER) – Wind Turbine Technician tops the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual list of fastest-growing jobs with a whopping 108 percent growth over the next eight years. With Texas State Technical College’s Wind Energy program, students can break into the industry in as little as one year with a certificate of completion or two years with an associate degree.

According to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency, more than 8.1 million people worldwide are working in renewable energy jobs. Students in the Wind Energy program at TSTC learn to safely troubleshoot and repair all components of a wind turbine.

Lead Wind Energy Instructor Heath Ince said the program has seen a jump in enrollment this fall, but the biggest change came in TSTC’s industry partners.

“We’ve always had good placement in our program, but what I’ve noticed is that now we have more companies competing for our students,” Ince said. “They want to get in here and get them hired before they even graduate because of the demand for skilled wind technicians out there right now.”

NextEra Energy is one company that competes for TSTC graduates. The company, which employs a significant number of wind technicians in the United States and Canada, made job offers to several TSTC students who graduated in December.

“We’re the largest producers of renewable energy in the world, so we think about this growth every day,” said James Auld, director of External Training Initiatives at NextEra. “We come to TSTC to recruit twice a year. We present to the students and interview every student who’s interested in interviewing. We are pleased to have made job offers to several promising TSTC graduates.”

Auld attributes the company’s strong relationship with TSTC to its location in the Big Country area.

“We have very large wind farm sites very close to Sweetwater,” Auld said. “It allows us to take local folks who are educated locally and put them to work near home. It’s a big win for everyone.”

Ince said the fact that the job is the fastest-growing in the nation didn’t come as a complete shock to him.

“We were kind of expecting it,” Ince said. “Our other wind instructor and I have been going to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) conference every year, so we’ve been kind of up to date. We knew there was going to be growth and that the demand was going to be there. We’re just now really starting to see it.”

Last week Zippia, a company that helps people find the right career, named wind turbine service technician as the top-growing job in Texas, with 129.2 percent growth.

Classes at TSTC began Monday, Jan. 9. TSTC will begin registering for the summer semester on April 3.
For more information on TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology, or to apply, visit

Hospital, TSTC Provide Economic Power in Sweetwater

(SWEETWATER) – Ryan Moore was inspired to study nursing as she saw the care her brother received after a bad automobile accident.

“He was in the hospital for quite a while,” said Moore, 39, of Sweetwater. “The accident was serious and he had to learn how to walk, talk, tie his shoes – he had to learn how to do things for himself all over. Being with him in the hospital setting made me decide that’s what I wanted to do.”

Moore graduated from Texas State Technical College in 2001 with a Certificate 2 in Vocational Nursing. That same year, she began working as a nurse at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital in Sweetwater. Moore has worked in medical surgery and now deals with orthopedic patients on surgery preparations, insurance, X-rays and relationship building.

Rolling Plains is one of the top four employers in Sweetwater with more than 300 workers, according to the Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development Inc. The medical center has a range of services for Nolan County residents including gynecology, nuclear medicine, physical therapy, sleep examinations and ophthalmology. TSTC graduates are a big part of the hospital’s work in nursing and information technology.

Having a hospital and technical college in the same county is a win for economic development because the city’s core businesses are in health care, manufacturing, conventional and renewable energy, logistics and hospitality. Having local emergency and health care options are factors for companies when deciding where to locate facilities, said Ken Becker, executive director of the Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development Inc.

“Each of these industry sectors has special needs when it comes to training,” said Becker. “TSTC has developed training programs to meet the specific needs of individual companies to industry sectors. As job opportunities and technology continue to evolve, continuous training will be required for entry-level to advanced manufacturing and everything in between.”

The technical college offers a four-semester Certificate 2 in Vocational Nursing in Sweetwater. Students study anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, neonatal nursing, surgical nursing and other skills. Nursing graduates must be licensed by the Texas Board of Nursing to work in healthcare environments.

LaBritta Rule, 41, of Sweetwater works in internal medicine and has been at the hospital periodically since the mid-1990s when she began in the admissions department. She graduated from TSTC with a Vocational Nursing certificate in 1999.

“I loved my instructors and everything they taught me,” Rule said. “I loved being able to do my clinicals at the hospital and be able to have primary nurses that I knew and was comfortable with teaching me. I loved being able to go to work following graduation at this hospital that I love being part of.”

For more information on TSTC, go to


Three TSTC in West Texas Employees Earn Chancellor’s Excellence Award

2016wt-chancellors-awards-luncheon(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College in West Texas honored the recipients of this year’s Chancellor’s Excellence Award at a luncheon Friday in Abilene. Three West Texas employees were chosen as recipients.

This year’s award winners are Adam Harvey, lead application administrator at TSTC in Sweetwater; Griselda Sanchez, community standards liaison at TSTC in Sweetwater; and Andy Weaver, health science statewide division director at TSTC in Abilene.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001, and over the past 15 years 270 TSTC employees have received the honor. Recipients are chosen based on outstanding contributions and achievements, commitment to excellence, and character. Honorees serve as agents of change in the advancement of TSTC initiatives.


TSTC Employee Celebrates 40th Work Anniversary

dsc_0660(SWEETWATER) – When Si Acuña began working at Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, he thought he would only be there for a few years. Now he finds himself in his 40th year at TSTC.

Acuña began working at the college in 1976 as a lab assistant in Automotive Technology.

“I was thinking I would stick around and see how long I was going to stay,” Acuña said. “I thought I would maybe go and do something else after that. I started as a lab assistant and moved on to an instructor, then moved on to master instructor for many years, and I was the department chair for years on and off. The program just kept going and going.”

With the development of advanced technology in cars, Acuña has seen much change throughout his time at TSTC.

“In the last 15 years or so, technology has changed so rapidly,” Acuña said. “The curriculum has changed quite a bit to keep up. In my time here, we’ve grown from being in a small building to a larger building where we are now. We have a lot more space and more classrooms with a well-equipped shop.”

He keeps up with the technology by reading and maintaining membership in professional organizations.

“I’ve been a member of many organizations that send out information and host conferences, like the Mobile Air Conditioning Society, the Automotive Service Association and the Automatic Transmission Association,” Acuña said. “Being part of those organizations, going to conferences and continuing to study on my own, I’m learning all the time.”

Acuña is proud to have made a difference at TSTC.

“I’m glad I was part of it,” Acuña said. “I helped to train a lot of students. One of the things I really like is working with the students and training them. The training is what’s really kept me here so long, being able to pass on my knowledge to other people.”

Overall, his favorite moment in teaching is seeing his students succeed.

“I have a lot of favorite moments, but I guess what is the best is when I see them cross the stage and they get a job,” Acuña said. “That’s the greatest one.”