Category Archives: Fort Bend County

TSTC in Fort Bend’s Annual Open House a Success

(FORT BEND COUNTY) – Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County held its annual open house Friday, opening its campus for program tours and meetings with faculty. The event, designed for prospective students who want to learn more about the college, hosted more than 200 visitors.

Coordinator of student recruitment Marigold Sagrado said she hoped the open house event would help give the college more visibility.

“I want to help spread the word about TSTC in the Houston and greater surrounding areas,” she said. “I also hope they took away that technical education is important and can offer a high-paying career.”

Visitors touring the campus’ 10 programs were able to participate in hands-on activities.

“In our Precision Machining program, our guests had the opportunity to create keychains on our CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machines,” Sagrado said. “They got to see students climbing poles in Electrical Lineworker Technology. Robotics demoed the robots for visitors, and Electrical Power & Controls did a demonstration on electricity. It was a lot of fun.”

Sagrado said the college’s unique programs are what drew many of the visitors.

“Our attendees are looking for programs in these fields, but there aren’t a lot of schools offering them,” she said. “I think that piqued their interest to check out more.”

Other guests heard about the college by word of mouth.

“People are talking about their experience at TSTC and how the learning experience is different from any other college or university,” Sagrado said.

TSTC’s Student Recruitment office made some changes to open house this year hoping reach a broader audience.

“This year, our event lasted until 7 p.m.,” she said. “We wanted to try to reach some of the nontraditional students who may work during the day.”

Isaac Rush, an attendee who has now decided to enroll at TSTC in the fall, said he found the event beneficial.

“Not only were the teachers very helpful, but the student volunteers were just as helpful too,” he said. “The students were intertwined with their field of study, which helped me in selecting what I want to major in at TSTC. All in all, TSTC is a great environment.”

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on the college, visit

TSTC recruiter serves as inspiration to students

(FORT BEND) – Yulonda Durst, who survived a childhood of poverty and overcame personal hardships as an adult, is now at Texas State Technical College as a student recruiter hoping to help young people find a better life through education.

Durst was raised in Beaumont and as a young girl, along with her four siblings, was homeless, usually forced to spend days apart from her family.

“We were a large family, and it was difficult for family to take all of us in,” she said. “But through it all my mom remained positive, kept us praying and reminded us that struggles were temporary.”

And temporary they were.

Durst and her family slowly moved up from homelessness to a house with no electricity to the projects and finally to a house they could call their own after Durst’s mother married.

The Beaumont native grew up to be a licensed cosmetologist, a youth pastor for New Hope Deliverance Ministry, a church in her hometown, and a college graduate.Yulonda Durst - TSTC Student Recruiter

She earned an associate degree from a technology school in Beaumont in Business Computer Information Systems in 2012 while working and raising her seven children.

“It wasn’t easy, but I wanted more for me and my family. So I pushed forward,” she said.

While juggling her salon, Graceful Hands Beauty Salon, established in 2005, a newfound career as a financial aid representative at her alma mater, and her family, more life challenges were thrown her way.

A fire, which was ruled arson, destroyed her salon on Thanksgiving Day 2016 and a divorce left Durst in pieces and feeling discouraged.

“I didn’t rebuild. I wanted a brand new start,” she said. “And it was while looking for a place to live in the Houston area that I drove by TSTC and told my children, ‘I’m going to work there someday.’”

It was only two weeks before Hurricane Harvey that Durst and her children began a new life in Houston. She said she is thankful that her family was okay and their properties did not suffer damage.

“We were blessed, but many weren’t so lucky,” she said.

Knowing this is what encouraged her to volunteer at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston and work as a FEMA contractor for four months before getting a job at TSTC.

Durst is now the newest student recruiter at TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus and said she was immediately impressed with the campus and its employees.

“At TSTC I feel like we’re all equal. I’m part of one great, big family,” she said. “It’s all hands on deck, no matter your position. There’s so much unity.”

Durst has many goals for her new position, but her main one is to encourage higher education in students who don’t see it as a possibility.

“I always tell students that education is the key that opens doors,” she said. “I believe everyone has the potential of getting a college degree.”

Durst added, “TSTC is a two-year college that places students on a career path,” she said. “When a student enters TSTC they are taking steps toward a new career and life.”

Durst, who is still a youth pastor, said she hopes to grow with the college by being the continued support TSTC students need.

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

Registration for Summer and Fall 2018 begins April 2.

Dashiell Corp. Hires Entire TSTC Lineworker Class

(FORT BEND COUNTY) – The first graduating class of linemen from Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County will walk the stage in April with their certificates and a sigh of relief, knowing they have jobs waiting for them.

All eight graduates have been offered employment with Dashiell Corp. upon completion of the program. Dashiell is a leading national provider of technical services to the electric utility, power generation and energy industries.

Troy Eads, instructor of TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology, said he had been working with a couple of companies to help find his students jobs.

The representative from Dashiell was the first to see the students in action, Eads said. “After he talked to them and saw them climb, he said, ‘Yeah, I’ll take them all.’”

Eads said he wasn’t really surprised that the company wanted all of the students.

“I try to teach them everything they need to know,” Eads said. “I wasn’t surprised that any company that came through would (hire them all) because we have a great program. Most schools have a 15-week certification, and we have 45 weeks. You learn a lot more in 45 weeks. We have a good curriculum and great students.”

Student Darryl Jackson said he feels good about having a job before graduating.

“Just a couple of years ago, I really didn’t understand where I would be at,” Jackson said. “Now I’m a few months away from graduating school, and I already have a job. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, like I actually did something.”

Jackson said he didn’t expect to have a job lined up so soon.

“I was really expecting that we’d graduate and have to go out and find our own jobs,” he said.

Though the students are taught the job skills they need, the program goes a little further than that.

“We go in-depth with what we teach them,” Eads said. “They learn not only about the work, but things like showing up on time also. There’s responsibility involved. We teach them about going through the interview and stuff like that as well — the soft skills.”

Jackson said it was those things that made the program special to him.

“It changed everybody in the program, including me,” he said. “We all had our ways about us, and Troy pointed those things out and showed us what wouldn’t work.”

As for now, the students are counting down the days until they begin their new jobs.

“I can’t wait,” Jackson said. “It’s something we talk about every day now.”

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology, visit

TSTC gets international exposure

(FORT BEND) – Texas State Technical College recently hosted a delegation of 21 Chinese educators from Nanjing, China for a tour of the campus and discussions about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) training and career opportunities.

TSTC Provost Randy Wooten said it was a pleasure being able to welcome the delegates on campus from Fort Bend County’s sister city Nanjing.

“It was great being given the opportunity to host these educators on campus,” he said. “The visit was focused on technological training and advancements and aligned well with what we offer at TSTC.”

The teachers were selected as part of a teacher exchange program through the Nanjing Education Bureau.

J.J. Clemence, Fort Bend County Global Initiative public relations director and Congressman Pete Olson’s Asian community outreach director, said each teacher was hand-picked from more than 1,000 schools in Nanjing and required to pass an English exam.


“These teachers are the top from each school,” Clemence said. “And the goal of this trip was to further expose them to STEM studies in the United States, which is why TSTC was an important stop for us.”

Clemence further explained that the teachers’ are visiting for 12-days touring local high schools in the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District and Fort Bend Independent School District and sharing resources and ideas with local educators.

“Technical careers are growing in demand in China and this visit has been eye opening to the delegates,” she said. “This has allowed them to see the importance of a technical education and hands-on training.”

Ning Nei, a high school chemistry teacher in Nanjing, said the TSTC campus and the focus on hands-on training was impressive.

“This college combines teaching with the practice of new technologies and that’s amazing to me,” she said. “It’s a perfect method that I hope to take back to my school and implement.”

Nei also said that she was able to exchange teaching resources with the faculty she visited, which will help her take what she learned back to her students.

TSTC’s Robotics Technology was popular among the delegates.

Guxiao Chun, a high school physics teacher, said he is excited to share his experience with his students when he returns home.

“TSTC is thinking innovatively and coming here has encouraged me to push my students into a technical career,” said Chun. “I’m excited to tell them about the robots and the hands-on training I witnessed.”

Chun added that he realized he can do more for his school and students by focusing on STEM.

Wooten said he was pleased with the positive responses received by the delegates and that these types of visit expand the TSTC brand internationally.

“They were impressed with the type of machinery and tools our students get to use in our labs,” said Wooten. “Opportunities like this are rare in China.”

He went on to say, “Positive responses like these make our brand more valuable and sought after. It gives us world-wide exposure.”

Clemence said she hopes to continue growing the relationship between these Chinese educators, Fort Bend County and TSTC.

“This was a great experience for everyone involved,” said Clemence. “And we hope in the near future we’ll be able bring students from China over to visit Fort Bend County and possibly study at TSTC.”

For more information on the programs offered at TSTC, visit

Registration for Summer and Fall 2018 begins April 2.

Local high school students experience TSTC

(FORT BEND) – From robot races to dressing up in HAZMAT suits, local high school juniors and seniors had the opportunity to experience the newest Texas State Technical College programs during the first Program Highlight Day.

TSTC recently hosted approximately 70 students from KIPP Generations Collegiate and Palacios High School, both schools nearly an hour away.

“This was a first-time event for us and we couldn’t be more excited about its success,” said Marigold Sagrado, TSTC student recruitment coordinator. “It was a great opportunity to showcase our campus and highlight our programs.”

Students were provided a tour of the Brazos Center, the newest building at TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus. They were also introduced to the four newest programs housed in the building: Environmental Technology – Compliance Specialization, Electrical Power and Controls Technology, Electrical Lineworker Technology and Robotics Technology.

“The goal behind this event is to expose students to the programs we offer and can lead to high-paying jobs,” said Sagrado. “These programs impact the areas that are essential to our daily lives and we need to fill the skills gap.”

Faculty and current students from TSTC’s newest programs offered hands-on activities or demonstrations for the juniors and seniors including racing robots, dressing up in HAZMAT suits and respirators and watching electricity safety and electrical lineworker climbing demonstrations.

For many students like junior Mario Arguello from Kipp Generations Collegiate, this was the best part of the day.

“I’m thinking of pursuing robotics at TSTC so this was definitely my favorite part,” said the 17-year-old. “I’ve always had an interest in robots so I was most excited about touring this program.”

When Arguello graduates in 2019, he said he hopes to attend TSTC and pursue an associate degree in Robotics Technology.

“After learning about the program and all of the career possibilities, I feel this is the right place for me.”

Sagrado said she was happy to see the students engaged in all of the activities and to hear the many positive responses she received.“Overall, this event was a success,” she said. “The students really enjoyed the tours and program demonstrations. Many even expressed their interest and excitement about enrolling.”

She added that she is looking forward to many more events like Program Highlight Day that give her and her team the opportunity of teaching the community what TSTC has to offer.

Registration for the Summer and Fall Semesters begins April 2.

For more information or to apply and register, visit

TSTC Student on Path to New Career

(FORT BEND) – Gerardo Garcia was the only graduate in December to get a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and earn Board of Regent graduate honors, and he managed this accomplishment against great odds.

Garcia earned his certificate in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technology during TSTC’s Commencement Ceremony at the Rosenberg Civic Center.

This semester, the Zapata native is back in the classroom pursuing an associate degree in his field and another perfect GPA.

“I have big goals for myself and before TSTC they weren’t happening,” said Garcia. “My future was uncertain and now I feel like things are falling into place.”

The 27-year-old’s journey at TSTC started when he got laid off from his job in the oil and gas industry and was invited by his twin sisters to join them in Houston.Gerardo Garcia HVAC Board of Regent Graduate

“For six months I had no job and no money,” said Garcia. “I was tired of being considered not hirable.”

So in January 2017, Garcia enrolled at TSTC and got a part-time job at Home Depot to pay for school. However, it was not an easy ride.

“Everything about my classes was great,” he said. “The instructors were attentive and always there for me and the hands-on training I was receiving was excellent, but I was struggling personally.”

While at Home Depot, Garcia worked well into the night. At least twice a week, Garcia would get out at 3 .m. and would sleep in his car to ensure that he made it to class by 8 a.m.

On the days he would get out earlier he would make the half-hour drive home to finish homework and get some sleep.

“It wasn’t easy working overnight and I didn’t want my education to suffer,” he said. “But I also needed the money.”

So, instead of leaving school, he left Home Depot and found a job at HEB.

“It was the best decision I could have made,” said Garcia. “HEB’s schedule allows me to focus more on school. I’m well on my way to a new career.”

Garcia has dreams of someday getting his contractor’s license and starting an HVAC residential and commercial business after getting some experience in the field.

“With an associate degree, my resume will no longer be tossed to the side and ignored,” said Garcia. “I have a degree and skills that people are looking for and it’s now going to be easier finding a job.”

Garcia, who expects to earn his associate degree Summer 2018 said he wants others to know that if they are looking for a new career or a career change TSTC is the place to go.

“TSTC is changing my life and will lead me to job security and stability,” said Garcia. “I highly recommend TSTC.”

For more information on HVAC Technology or to apply and register anytime, visit

TSTC HVAC Students Graduates to a Brighter Future

(FORT BEND) – Graduating, and doing so with honors, was the last thing Zach Guthrie ever expected to happen.

But on December 14 the 25-year-old put on his black cap and gown and excitedly received his certificate in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technology during Texas State Technical College’s Commencement Ceremony at the Rosenberg Civic Center.

“My whole life school wasn’t for me,” he said. “I didn’t even know what I wanted to study, until TSTC came into town and then things changed.”

Guthrie has now joined an alumni network that is more than 100,000 strong.

Before TSTC, the Houston native enrolled at Wharton County Junior College and soon realized that a traditional classroom with the study of theory was not for him.

“That’s not the way I learn. I am a hands-on learner,” he said. “TSTC matched my learning style.”

The Houston native first heard about TSTC when his mother, TSTC Enrollment Specialist Melanie Pruett, began working at the college.TSTC graduate Zach Guthrie

It was after learning about the programs and doing some research that Guthrie decided to enroll in HVAC Technology.

“My dad has worked in the HVAC business for a good 30 years of his life,” said Guthrie. “Now with this certificate and the skills I have gained I can follow in his footsteps.”

Throughout his educational journey Guthrie worked late nights with United Parcel Service (UPS) and attended class during the day, which made it challenging for him to complete the program.

“I went through some rough patches, but the instructors and staff at TSTC and my family kept pushing me and encouraging me. I couldn’t have done it without their understanding and support,” he said. “They all deserve a big thank you.”

Commencement speaker Michael Dobert, owner/principal of human resource consulting firm HR in Alignment LLC and TSTC Welding Continuing Education student had a special message for graduates like Guthrie.

“Continue to learn, never stop. Be a leader in all you do by empowering and encouraging others,” said Dobert. “Finally, give more than you receive and you’ll get back more than you could ever imagine.”

He also reminded students that success out in the field is not only about technical skills, but also soft skills such as leadership, professionalism, work ethic and entrepreneurship.

“Always remember that your technical skills are just as important as your soft skills,” he told the graduates. “TSTC has provided you the educational opportunities you need for a successful career path and now the rest is up to you.”

Other speakers who shared remarks during the ceremony included TSTC Provost Randy Wooten, TSTC Field Development Officer John Kennedy and TSTC Regent Joe Gurecky.

For Guthrie and his fellow graduates, the end of this chapter means a new one begins and he hopes to find employment with local HVAC companies like Custom Comfort Air or Trane Heating and AC.

“TSTC has given me something to look forward to. I’m excited about my future now,” said Guthrie. “I’m ready to enter the workforce and use the skills I have gained, slowly move up the ladder and continue my education at TSTC for my associate degree.”

For more information on TSTC programs, to apply or register, visit

The deadline for Spring 2018 registration is January 2.

TSTC Alumnus Gives Back with Financial Gift

(ROSENBERG) – Steve Hefner knew the time was right in his career to give a financial helping hand to students.

Earlier this year, Hefner donated $10,000 to the Texan Success Scholarship for students attending TSTC in Fort Bend County.

Hefner, senior vice president of construction at Camden Living in Houston and a graduate of Texas State Technical College in Waco, is familiar with the statistics: more than 1.1 million carpentry workers will be needed by 2026 and more than 27,000 brickmasons will be needed in the same period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Roofers, managers, drywall and ceiling tile installers and others will also be needed in the construction field as workers retire in the upcoming years.

“You have less people wanting to get into our business and more people exiting,” said Hefner. “Tenacity and drive will always outshine people and a good work ethic is key. I have seen our generation change and the millennials today are different. They work smarter and multitask a little better.”

“We so appreciate our alumni giving back to our college,” said John Kennedy, a field development officer for The TSTC Foundation at TSTC in Fort Bend County. “Supporters such as Steve not only help our current and future students, but it shows how much they value the education they received at TSTC. Steve is a shining example of how one can be very successful as a result of the knowledge gained through technical education.”

Hefner hopes the money can help students whose financial means are not the most abundant.

“The thing I’m seeing today are the kids we are hiring have $100,000 debt at 6 percent interest,” he said. “They can’t get a break to get ahead.”

TSTC in Fort Bend County Provost Randall Wooten encouraged TSTC alumni to visit and see the technology that students work with.

“There are numerous TSTC alumni in the greater Houston area who are making a difference every day by applying their skills in a multitude of industries,” Wooten said.

Hefner grew up in Lubbock and briefly attended two universities before switching to TSTC in Waco.

“I could not find my way of what I wanted to do and my passion,” he said. “My dad was in banking and my family was in farming. I always had a passion and worked in the lumber industry and loved lumber.”

Hefner graduated in 1985 from TSTC in Waco with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Building Construction Technology. He said it was a special time to be part of the program because of being able to travel with other students to competitions and the national construction industry boom in the 1980s.

“I remember the day I graduated I had 21 job offers and it was amazing,” said Hefner, a resident of Kingwood. “Luckily, I made a choice to do multifamily.”

Hefner has been at Camden Living for more than 20 years.

For more information on how to give to TSTC, go to

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

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 is Leading with Service

(FORT BEND) – National Make a Difference Day was on Saturday, October 28, but for the students and staff at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County the project continues beyond one day.

TSTC has partnered with Fort Bend Community Revitalization Projects (CORPS), a nonprofit corporation that has completed repairs on more than 3,500 homes in Fort Bend County, and its Hearts and Hammers program, which focuses on the exterior restoration of homes.

“This is the first time we’ve partnered with them and it’s been a success,” said TSTC Director of Student Services Georgeann Calzada. “I like to form relationships with different organizations in the area since TSTC serves Fort Bend County not just Rosenberg.”

The students were set to paint a 55-year-old home belonging to an elderly woman during Make a Difference Day, but because the house required additional work and the yard needed care, painting was postponed for November 4.

“Our students want to do a good job and get the job done right,” said Calzada. “So the decision to postpone the painting to do the additional work was a group choice.”

Instead, the students mowed and manicured the lawn, cleaned debris that was left over from the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, power washed the home and removed old paint.TSTC National Make a Difference Day 2017

“I’m so proud of our students and their dedication to this project,” said Calzada. “It really shows their character and commitment to making a difference in their community.”

For Electrical Lineworker Technology student Madison Ellis this was his first National Make a Difference Day, but as a long-time volunteer for the Special Olympics he is no stranger to community service.

“I love helping people and creating blessings,” he said. “The house we’re working on is someone’s home and our goal is to create a safe, comfortable and beautiful environment for the owner.”

This is why it was important to Ellis and his peers to put in the extra elbow grease. Calzada said she is excited for their second Saturday on the project and expects additional TSTC students and staff to join them.

“These students have really encouraged their friends to come out and help,” she said. “Many have gained new perspectives on their lives, appreciation for what they have and are encouraged to do more in their community.”

This is the second year TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus participates in National Make a Difference Day.

TSTC Executive Director of Student Life Adele Clinton said statewide, among TSTC’s 10 campuses, the number of student volunteers for this day has increased exponentially with close to 400 students putting in at least 1,500 volunteer hours.

“Statewide we’ve seen the need for students to do service,” she said. “They love it and when students engage in community service they learn communication skills, teamwork, conflict resolution and that volunteerism is fun, while promoting TSTC in their own backyards.”

For more information on TSTC and the programs it offers, visit