Category Archives: Waco

TSTC Holds Fall Commencement

(WACO) – More than 550 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2017 Commencement held Friday, Dec. 8, at the Waco Convention Center.

Students from TSTC’s campuses in Waco, North Texas and Williamson County took part in the ceremony. The Waco campus had 479 graduates, Williamson County had 46 graduates and North Texas had 27 graduates.

Many of the graduates already have jobs and are ready to work.

Anthony Warren, 22, of Gatesville graduated with a machining certificate. He has been working the last few months at Unique Machine Shop in Oglesby as a CNC operator/machinist.

During his time at TSTC, he had a son.

“I did what I set out to do and I will do what I need to do for me and my son,” Warren said. “If you pursue what you are good at, you will succeed.”

Some graduates are preparing to go to work.

Khadeeja Qurashi, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. living in Waco, received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Laser Electro Optics. She will start in January her new job as a wafer fabrication technician at Texas Instruments in Dallas.

“I’ve made it,” Qurashi said. “It’s amazing and I’ve learned so much. I’m confident in my abilities and I get to show everyone that when I am walking across the stage to get my degree. TSTC was a learning experience, and it was more than math and science.”

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TSTC in Williamson County Fall Commencement to be held Friday

(HUTTO) – When Industrial Maintenance student Jesse Franco walks the stage at Texas State Technical College’s fall commencement Friday, he’ll be completing a long-anticipated goal.

Franco began taking classes at TSTC in Williamson County in 2015, but his work schedule only allowed him to attend school part time.

“Normally half of the guys graduate in three or four semesters, a year and a half,” Franco said. “It took me almost three years. I’m very happy right now. I’m making sure I’m going to walk too, because I earned it. Golly, I earned it.”

Franco began the degree hoping to become a maintenance mechanic at ICU Medical, where he has worked for 17 years.

“I always wanted to be a mechanic there at work, but unfortunately I needed the degree,” Franco said. “They don’t take your word for it, even if you can show them you have experience. They want to know you can do it, and how do they know? Your degree. So whenever this school opened in Hutto, I was very excited because I didn’t want to drive an hour and a half to Waco to get it done. When this school opened, it opened up a lot of opportunities for me.”

The degree Franco will earn Friday helped him go a step further than maintenance mechanic. Earlier this year he was promoted to supervisor.

“I manage and supervise 20 people on the production line,” Franco said. “I make sure everything is running okay and communicate with the mechanics.”

Industrial Maintenance instructor Lance Antilley said Franco is a hard worker.

“Jesse deserves this,” Antilley said. “He would help the younger guys in class. He was kind of a leader to them because he could share his life experience.”

Franco is among 46 students eligible for graduation at the Williamson County campus and will finish his time at TSTC with a 4.0 GPA.

He enjoyed the technical aspects of TSTC.

“I’m more hands-on than I am a bookworm,” he said. “It’s great to be able to do the book work and actually put it into practice. For me, it stays better and I learn quicker that way too.”

He also enjoyed the rapport with his instructors.

“The instructors see our weaknesses and try to make them our strengths,” Franco said. “They guide us, and I like that a lot. They get involved with us and try to have a relationship with you. That’s what I enjoy about it. You’re not just being taught; you actually get to build a relationship, even with your fellow classmates as well. There’s a strong bonding, and that’s what I enjoyed the most.”

His advice to those considering TSTC? Put in the work.

“The resources are there for you to learn and to graduate; you need to do the work, though,” Franco said. “Everybody is willing to help you out.”

TSTC provides training in specialized, hands-on instructional courses leading to Associate of Applied Science degrees and Certificates of Completion in areas such as Cyber Security, HVAC, Industrial Maintenance, Culinary and more.

TSTC has more than 1,100 candidates for commencement this fall across the state and is now enrolling for the spring semester. To apply, visit

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TSTC Student Sees Bright Future in Construction Industry

(WACO) – Bradley Castanon is eager to use his creative energy to make homes environmentally friendly and cost efficient.

Castanon, 23, of Bryan is a candidate for graduation for the Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology and a certificate in Energy Efficiency Specialist at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2017 Commencement at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, at the Waco Convention Center.

One of the concepts he learned about was passive solar energy, a way to use the sun’s natural path to heat and cool structures through the use of building materials. He also became familiar with the International Energy Conservation Code, which is used in worldwide construction.

“He has been a good student, but more than that he has shown an interest in understanding the complete subject matter,” said Tony Chaffin, an Energy Efficiency Specialist instructor in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program.

Castanon was home-schooled starting in seventh grade. In ninth grade, he joined a homeschool co-op where he took classes and did assigned work at home.

Some of Castanon’s relatives worked in the heating, air conditioning and ventilation field. He said relatives built two family cabins near Hearne. But when it came time for college, Castanon started studying kinesiology and later business.

“I am a kinetic learner,” Castanon said. “I have to be doing something to learn it. I could not see myself sitting behind a desk all day looking at a computer.”

He found TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program through online research.

“It was more out of personal interest in a new technology to produce my own energy,” Castanon said about choosing his majors. “I also know it is a slightly growing industry in power and electrical generation. I figured it would be a good way to make a living.”

Castanon worked two semesters as a resident advisor at Lavaca Hall at TSTC in Waco.

“What he brings to the job is consistency and reliability and attention to detail,” said Shane Hill, a TSTC campus housing coordinator.

After graduation, Castanon wants to work in the Bryan area apprenticing in the plumbing and heating and air conditioning fields. He wants one day to be a general contractor.

For more information on TSTC’s Fall 2017 Commencement, go to

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TSTC Student Plants Career with Family Roots

(WACO) – The first steps on the mountain that Talgat Pate continues to climb started in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Pate, 23, of Brenham and a student at Texas State Technical College in Waco, spent the first 10 years of life at an orphanage in the former Soviet republic.

“My mom had me at maybe 13 or 14,” he said. “I have biological siblings in Kazakhstan I have never met. I was schooled at the orphanage, where they would throw algebra problems at us.”

Pate will finish classes for his Associate of Applied Science in Biomedical Equipment Technology in December and quickly begin work at his family’s company, CardioQuip, in Bryan. His job as a biomedical field services technician will count toward the degree’s required internship, which means he will receive his degree in the spring.

“I’ll be traveling many places across the United States and other countries troubleshooting and calibrating cardiovascular medical equipment,” Pate said.

Michael Overcash, lead instructor in TSTC’s Biomedical Equipment Technology program, said he was impressed with Pate’s positive attitude. Pate took three classes with Overcash.

“He is very teachable,” Overcash said. “To me, it is amazing to see what he has come from and what he has done and how his future is very bright.”

Pate met the couple that would eventually adopt him when he was 8 while on a two-week visit to Texas as part of the Here I Am Orphan Ministries nonprofit Christian ministry. The adoption took two years and included securing a birth certificate, Social Security number, a passport and other legal paperwork.

“I never received love from anyone,” Pate said. “I lived an orphan life by following the rules and working a lot as a kid. When I was adopted, my parents showed me the compassion and love that I never had. That was when I turned my life around.”

He grew up with three siblings that were born to his parents and five adopted sisters from Colombia, along with an adopted brother from Kazakhstan. The family is in the process of adopting an American foster child. Their ages range from 14 to 36.

“Honestly it is a lot of fun seeing the variety of cultures and to understand each other,” Pate said. “We have problems and fight over things, but we care for each other and help each other out.”

Pate grew up speaking Russian and Kazakh. When he came to Brenham to live permanently, he was home-schooled for the first year so he could grasp the basics of English.

“My mother would help me read baby books and help me pronounce words,” Pate said.

Pate was enrolled at Grace Lutheran School in Brenham for third grade and later jumped to fifth grade because of his age. He eventually moved on to Brenham Christian Academy, where he graduated in 2014.

He attended Blinn College for two years to improve his reading skills and take academic courses. Pate researched online and found TSTC after relatives encouraged him to pursue biomedical equipment technology as a career.

“I have enjoyed the hands-on work and not just sitting at my desk,” Pate said. “The technical college has taught me discipline and how to work with people.”

TSTC offers the Biomedical Equipment Technology program at the Harlingen and Waco campuses.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Welding Instructor Honored for 25 Years of Teaching

(HUTTO) – The American Welding Society honored Texas State Technical College welding instructor A. Keith Wojcik for 25 years of service in the welding industry and in higher education at its annual FABTECH conference in Chicago.

Wojcik said the award is a personal milestone.


“It means that I didn’t give up,” Wojcik said. “It’s 25 years of persistence, 25 years of plugging away. The reason my students got to see that is because I wanted them to understand the importance of being a professional and I did that by my actions, not by my words.”


Wojcik was inspired to become a welder by his college professor Roy Hulfachor.


“He told me, didn’t ask, but told me I was going to be his lab assistant and I was going to teach an introductory class,” Wojcik said. “He was a great man. He became my professor, my boss, my mentor, my guidance counselor and, probably the biggest thing, is he was a friend of mine. So I didn’t get to choose welding, it chose me.”


Early after graduating from college, Wojcik began both welding and teaching.


“I’ve done both for virtually my entire career,” Wojcik said. “I would weld during the day and I would teach at night. It started one week after I had graduated. I was told by Roy that the local community college needed a welding instructor, so I became the welding department at Kishwaukee Community College in Malta, Illinois. I was a department of one.”


Later, Wojcik went on to work at Caterpillar Inc. in Aurora, Illinois.


“I started as a welder and got into management training at that point, at the ripe old age of 23,” Wojcik said. “I became the youngest supervisor ever in that plant. And I taught school at night. I taught continuing education for the Aurora school district.”


Later, Wojcik moved to Houston where he worked for Airco Technical, and started the Research and Development department at CRC Automatic Welding with his Airco co-workers. After getting married and having a daughter, the family moved to the Austin area, where he taught welding at Austin Community College for 13 years. He began teaching at TSTC in April of 2012.


Wojcik, currently a Round Rock resident, said his proudest moment as a teacher came at the FABTECH conference, when he saw a former student speak.


“I was so proud when I heard the words uttered ‘My name is Alejandro Alvarez and I’m a doctoral candidate in Welding Engineering at Ohio State University,’” Wojcik said. “I met his advisor and he said ‘Alex speaks very highly of you because you pushed him in that direction.’ That is the pinnacle of my teaching career: that I inspired somebody so much that he would get a doctorate in Welding Engineering. It doesn’t get better than that.”


Three of Wojcik’s welding students attended the conference in Chicago as well.


“I know I’m making an impact because I have three students that showed up in Chicago just to see what was going on,” he said. “The only draw was this show and the fact that I was getting an award. They all came back excited. I’m passing on the torch, if you will.”


Wojcik credits his mentors with helping him in his career and is glad to show his students that way as well.


“I’ve had many great mentors who never really gave me a straight answer; instead they gave me a path to follow,” Wojcik said. “I try to do the same. It’s not about the end, it’s about the career.”


The American Welding Society (AWS) was founded in 1919, as a nonprofit organization with a global mission to advance the science, technology and application of welding and allied joining and cutting processes. AWS strives to move the industry forward in both thought and action, as well as inspire new generations to see the exciting career opportunities available today.


For more information on Texas State Technical College and the welding program, visit

TSTC in Waco Student Q&A with Ian MacFarlane of Temple

(WACO) – Veteran Ian MacFarlane, 39, of Temple is about to get an Associate of Applied Science degree in Avionics Technology from Texas State Technical College.

MacFarlane grew up in Sidney, Montana and is a U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient.

MacFarlane is scheduled to graduate at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8 at the Waco Convention Center and return to TSTC in January to begin work on an Associate of Applied Science degree in Aircraft Airframe Technology.

When did you join the Army? “I enlisted in May 2005. I was a power generation equipment repairman. I did that for 10 years. I made sergeant in three-and-a-half years. I was deployed twice to Afghanistan and Iraq. Then, I medically retired in December 2015.”

How did you learn about TSTC? “There was a counselor at Fort Hood that used to work at TSTC and she pushed me in that direction. Fort Hood was my last duty station. I applied to TSTC first, then visited the campus.”

How have you enjoyed being in the Avionics Technology program? “This was a great learning experience. It taught me more in-depth about electronics than I knew. It is smaller components to work with for radio systems. The instructors are very knowledgeable.”

Have you had a job on the Waco campus? “I was a student-worker in the Veteran Center. You see how academics and veteran benefits go hand-in-hand. It was a good experience to talk to the veterans and see them every day.”

What advice would you give to high school students? “Go to colleges and check out what they have. Do your research and find out which school suits you the best.”

What is your career goal? “I want to work with unmanned systems in the military.”

There were more than 18,600 aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians in Texas as of May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of jobs in the fields are expected to rise nationally to 157,000 through 2026, according to the federal labor statistics bureau.

TSTC in Waco offers the Associate of Applied Science degree in Avionics Technology.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC in North Texas to Host Registration Rally for Spring Semester

(RED OAK) – Texas State Technical College will host a Registration Rally for the 2018 Spring Semester from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the Jim Pitts Industrial Technology Center on North Lowrance Road in Red Oak.

“We are looking forward to meeting our new students and helping them get one step closer to earning their associate degrees,” said TSTC Provost Marcus Balch. “Registration Rally days are set up to make the registration process as smooth as possible.”

Visitors can take campus tours and talk to faculty members about the 10 technical programs offered at the North Texas campus, including Computer Aided Drafting and Design Technology, Cyber Security and Welding.

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 fall. For information on the closest Registration Rally, log on to

For more information, contact TSTC in North Texas at 972-617-4040.

Texas State Representative Visits TSTC Campus

(WACO) – State Rep. and House Appropriations Committee Chairman John Zerwas, R-Richmond, along with officials from Educate Texas and the Texas Association of Manufacturers, visited the Texas State Technical College campus Monday, November 27.

Educate Texas, a catalyst for large-scale education systems change, has partnered with public and private educational entities to improve public and higher education systems in Texas. The goal of the visit was for the groups involved to shine a light on the types of education being offered at TSTC.


“These organizations asked if they could host a tour on our campus for Rep. John Zerwas so that he could get a firsthand experience with the type of education and opportunities that TSTC produces,” said Roger Miller, TSTC vice chancellor and chief government affairs officer. “We were somewhat of a co-host, but this was actually the idea of Educate Texas, the Texas Association of Manufacturers and the Texas Business Leadership Council.”


Zerwas serves the citizens of Texas House District 28, which includes Fort Bend County, where TSTC operates its newest campus. In the 84th Legislative Session, he also served as Chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education. Zerwas said the visit to Waco helped him realize the breadth of opportunities TSTC can offer.


“This is where it all began, so this is a great opportunity to see where the program was born and to see what it’s become since then,” Zerwas said. “The Fort Bend campus, since it just started, has a limited number of programs they can offer. Here at the oldest campus, they have an enormous number of job skills training opportunities. I found each one of them interesting.”


TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser said it’s important that people see the value of the programs offered at TSTC.


“A lot of times technical education is seen as a consolation prize,” Reeser said. “The programs we offer here are more than that. Who wouldn’t want to be an air traffic controller? Corporate America is finally beginning to talk to students about job opportunities in careers like these.”


The tour showed visitors a look at the Aerospace, Instrumentation, Electrical Power & Controls, Precision Machining and Welding programs. Several instructors pressed the significance of the skills gap, a shortage of middle-skilled workers to fill open positions.


“We’re seeing the greatest shortage of commercial pilots since the 1950s,” said TSTC Transportation Division Director Carson Pearce. “There are 617,000 jobs available, and that doesn’t include aviation maintenance technicians. We can get a student in and season them in two years, but as fast as we can do that isn’t fast enough to fill the positions.”


TSTC Precision Machining instructor George Love shared the same sentiments.


“My biggest burden right now is that I’m letting 60 to 70 jobs go unfilled every semester,” Love said. “It’s a weight on my shoulders. If I can provide an extra 60 to 70 students, I could meet the needs I know about in the state of Texas right now.”


Zerwas hopes TSTC’s high-quality graduates can help beat the stigma around technical education and lessen the skills gap.


“More of these graduates being percolated through communities will get people asking, ‘How did you get there?’ And they’ll say, ‘Well I started at TSTC,’ and it gave them a great start. There are lots of ways and efforts to communicate this down to the high schools, and it’s very important. Our future is highly vested in cranking out that highly skilled workforce.”


For more information on TSTC, visit

TSTC Inaugurates First SGA President at Fort Bend Campus

(FORT BEND) – Texas State Technical College student Madison Ellis was recently named the first Student Government Association (SGA) President for TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus.

It is the 19-year-old’s first semester at TSTC as an Electrical Lineworker Technology student and said he never expected anything like this to happen.

“I’m excited that I have been given this opportunity,” he said. “I wasn’t looking for it, it found me. But I’m ready to serve our students.”

The Missouri City native closed his first week on the job by adding additional companies to TSTC’s student discount list: Brewingz, Panda Express, Bush’s Chicken and Bullritos – Burritos and Tacos.

He is also working on building a partnership with a local recycling center to raise money for either an end-of-semester pizza party for the students or a new foosball table or basketball hoop system to beautify the campus and/or community.

“Everything I’m doing is for the students,” he said. “They’re trusting me to be their voice.”

Ellis added that he conducted student surveys and will work on the things most important to his fellow peers.Madison Ellis TSTC SGA President

Other goals on Ellis’ list include creating an intramural sports program and encouraging students to do more community service projects.

His supervisor and Director of Student Services Georgeann Calzada said it is Ellis’ leadership, ambition and determination that made him a great candidate for president.

“He’s jumped right into his position and has wasted no time in talking with students and finding out what they need and want,” said Calzada. “He is very excited about being an advocate for our students and his confidence will take him far in this position. He’s definitely a great addition to our team and a great asset to TSTC.”

Ellis is active in his community by volunteering with the Special Olympics and organizing toy and food drives and fundraisers for those less fortunate and most recently volunteering during National Make a Difference Day.

Leading up to Ellis’ Summer 2018 graduation, he said he wants to make positive changes for students and encourage others to work with him as part of SGA to continue the work he has started once he leaves TSTC.

“I’m still soaking it all in. This is such a new role for me to have,” said Ellis. “But I’m looking forward to everything that’s to come.”

Though Ellis will remain busy as SGA President, he said he will remain focused on his education. He plans on working hard to hopefully receive job offers before graduating and be set once he flips his tassel to the left and receives his certificate.

He has his eye on starting his career with CenterPoint Energy or AEP Energy.

“Everything about TSTC has exceeded my expectations,” he said. “It is opening doors of opportunity every day for me and preparing me for a successful career.”

For more information on the programs offered at TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus, visit

TSTC Student Q&A with Luke Mawhirter of Woodway

(WACO) – Luke Mawhirter, 22, of Woodway is a Visual Communication Technology major at Texas State Technical College who is scheduled to graduate in spring 2018.

Mawhirter graduated in 2014 from Robinson High School, where he was active in theater and the National Honor Society.

Have you always been interested in the arts? “Ever since I was a kid, I have liked to draw. Art has always been part of my life. When we got Photoshop, I started playing with it in fifth grade. It’s always been pretty natural. Technology has come easy to me. I have always enjoyed working with computers. The technology helps when doing visual arts.”

How did you enjoy growing up in the Waco area? “I have always loved Waco. My mother will say it’s small but not too small and big but not too big. There is so much attention on Waco. It’s always been a friendly place. It’s been cool to see the re-emergence of Waco.”

How did you become interested in TSTC? “I had heard about TSTC in high school. It was a known thing that it was here. I had friends that were taking classes there. What drew me to it was its simplicity. It’s so straightforward.”

Do you work on campus? “I am a work-study student. Sometimes, I help with business cards and talk about designs with the Creative Services staff. I do a lot of folding and organizing. I like to see it as a study thing. I have learned how to work a lot of the machinery. I was able to use this as my internship class. It’s been incredibly valuable.”

What is your career goal after graduation? “My main goal is to be an in-house graphics director.”

What advice would you give to high school students? “Don’t limit yourself. Explore every option that is available to you. Know your value and worth and pursue those things about you.”

Graphic design jobs are expected to rise to 278,800 through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Texas currently has more than 12,000 graphic design jobs, with more than 100 of those in the Waco area. The annual mean wage in Texas for graphic designers is $48,360, according to the federal labor statistics bureau.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to