Category Archives: Fort Bend County

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.edu.

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 tstc.edu.

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 tstc.edu/tstcfoundation/foundation.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

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.edu.

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 tstc.edu.

TSTC’s New Program Offers Student a New Life

(FORT BEND) – Jerry Nieto is one of the first students in Electrical Power and Controls, a program in its first semester at the Texas State Technical College Fort Bend County campus.

Originally from Brownsville, Nieto first enrolled at the TSTC Harlingen campus in 2001 to pursue an associate degree in what was then Drafting and Design Technology.

Although he completed his classes and the job offers flooded in, Nieto never registered for graduation and never received his associate degree. Immediately after this he moved to New York with his sisters and never looked back.

“I sometimes wish I could turn back time and give my young self a pep talk,” said Nieto. “I don’t know what I was thinking back then. I could have had a stable, good-paying career. But I can only move forward now.”

Life altogether has not been bad for Nieto. He held onto a successful car sales job In New York before moving to Houston and going into business with his father-in-law. However, neither gig was something he could see himself doing long-term.

So, after nine years, Nieto and his father-in-law sold their fiber-optic cable business and Nieto started making calls to TSTC’s Harlingen campus wondering if it was too late to get his associate degree.TSTC EPC Student Jerry Nieto

“Time moves on and things change, but I figured it was worth the try,” he said.

Well, with nearly a decade gone by, some of Nieto’s credits didn’t count anymore and he would have to take new classes. Basically, starting all over.

“TSTC was great to me once, so I knew if I was going to start anywhere, it was going to be at TSTC,” said Nieto. “Lucky for me the Fort Bend County campus opened, because I am back.”

Barely reaching the halfway point in his first semester, Nieto said the Electrical Power and Control program is already exceeding his expectations.

“I’m a husband and father now with a different mindset,” he said. “I’m ready to learn. I understand the importance of an education and I’m ready for a new career.”

Nieto added he now understands the importance an education can have on his life and the opportunities TSTC provides for its students.

“Not only are classes hands-on, but our instructors are leaders in industry with extensive experience,” said Nieto. “That has to be appreciated, because that’s what gets students far.”

TSTC Electrical Power and Control Instructor Jonathan Bonkoske spent more than 30 years in the industry working in power distribution, electrical power and motor research and design.

In August, he made the jump to teaching to share his knowledge with students like Nieto and to help give them insight into the industry.

“Nieto is one of my students who I know has life experience and is eager to learn,” said Bonkoske. “I know it’s early into the semester, but seeing him work hard and jumping into his projects like he is, lets me know that he has a bright future. He has all of the qualities an employer looks for.”

Bonkoske said his goal is to share his experience with all of his students and teach them the hands-on skills they need to be placed in a good-paying job that will help build their career.

And as for Nieto, he said his goal is to learn as much as he can from Bonkoske and his peers, graduate with his associate degree and find a career that will help him support his family.

“This time around I’m taking advantage of everything TSTC has to offer me and I’m going to make the most of it,” he said. “I know they’ll give me the confidence I need to be one of the best in the industry.”

Electrical Power and Controls is also offered at TSTC’s North Texas and Waco campuses. For more information visit, tstc.edu.

TSTC Host Third Annual Counselor Update

(FORT BEND) – More than 70 high school counselors from across the Gulf Coast region, as far away as Goliad, attended Texas State Technical College’s Third Annual Counselor Update at its Fort Bend County campus on Friday.

The half-day program offered counselors a first-hand look into the technologies and services TSTC has to offer with a tour of the campus, including its newest building, the Brazos Center.

TSTC Director of Recruitment Dora Colvin said the goal of the update is to educate counselors on the importance of a technical education and what TSTC has to offer Fort Bend County and surrounding areas with its new campus.

“We are a fully accredited technical institution with passionate staff and faculty ready to provide an education that leads to a successful career,” said Colvin. “And we need the counselors to help us by taking information back to their students and parents about our campus and programs, so they can make an informed decision.”

3rd Annual TSTC Counselor Update

Throughout the day counselors were introduced to TSTC’s recruitment team, programs, certification and degree plans, admission processes and student eligibility requirements.

And TSTC Admissions, Dual Enrollment and Financial Aid set up resource tables for the counselors to visit with representatives from each department.

Madalina Noth, a counselor at Hastings High School from outside Houston said this is her second year participating in TSTC’s Counselor Update because she loved it so much the first time she decided to return.

“This is an excellent event that many of us look forward to,” she said. “A lot of my students have enrolled at TSTC and what they are doing for our area is great. I believe in the power of a technical education and what TSTC has to offer.”

Counselors were also treated to a lunch catered by TSTC Culinary Arts graduate Ben Pustejovsky, owner of the popular Ben’s Chuckwagon in Wallis, Texas.

Other activities included a student and departmental faculty lead panel representing the 10 programs offered at the campus with a question and answer session for the counselors.

“I’ve been working closely with TSTC for some time now and what I love is the passion that everyone on campus exudes. You can tell they love what they do and that’s how I know it’s an excellent place to send my students,” said Noth.

TSTC Student Recruitment Coordinator Marigold Sagrado said she hopes this update will give counselors a better understanding of what TSTC offers and will establish a long-term collaboration between TSTC and the surrounding school districts.

“We want to continue growing our partnerships in the area so that we can serve our community the best way we can, and that is to provide the technical training needed to helps students succeed and place more Texans, she said.

Colvin added that the she is thankful for what counselors do every day for their students and the college.

“Many times these counselors encourage students to enroll at TSTC, but most of all to go to college in general,” she said. “They do a lot and we appreciate them.”

For more information on the programs offered at TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

Local Childhood Friends Mark Another Milestone at TSTC

(FORT BEND) – Since kindergarten, the relationship between three childhood friends has withstood the test of time, experiencing nearly every milestone together including college graduation.

Texas State Technical College Welding Technology graduates Israel Grimaldo, Jose Acosta and Carlos Nieto recently earned certificates in their field and celebrating yet another commencement together.

TSTC Graduates

“What are the odds that nearly 18 years later we’re still friends? They’re like my brothers,” said Nieto. “I’m so proud of us and how far we’ve come. We’re making something of ourselves.”

All three friends are Rosenberg natives and have graduated from Bowie Elementary School, B.F. Terry High School and TSTC together.

With nearly everything in common, it came as no surprise to their family and friends when they all chose to pursue welding.

Nieto, who graduated from TSTC with honors and a 3.5 grade-point average began his welding journey his freshmen year of high school.

In fact, all three friends were attracted to the field early on because of the hands-on work and the job opportunities available.

“I love building stuff and working with my hands,” said Nieto. “This is the perfect career for me.”

Acosta, who has two uncles who work in the field, added, “The idea that I can receive an affordable education, get a certificate and get a good job right off the bat is attractive.”

High School Graduation

Nieto said he already bought a welding machine and is doing freelance jobs in repair and maintenance and some construction projects.

 

In fact, in addition to the hands-on learning they receive at TSTC, all three men have already worked in the field performing odd jobs here and there to help pay for school.

They agree they are fully prepared to tackle the industry, but for one the job hunt came sooner rather than later.

The original plan was for all three men to return to TSTC in the fall to pursue an associate degree and have one more graduation together, but Acosta decided on a different path.

“TSTC was a great choice for me, I think for all of us,” said Acosta. “I’m more than ready to start my career, I don’t want to delay it anymore, and because of the training I received I am fully prepared and confident to do so.”Kindergarten Graduation

Acosta is working for a Houston-based pipe making company as a pipe maker and hopes to someday pursue his associate degree, but said he is happy with his decision to work for now.

As for Nieto and Grimaldo, Hurricane Harvey set back the first day of school by nearly one month, but they are back and ready to graduate together with an associate degree in May one last time.

“Luckily all of our families were okay. We had to evacuate, but we were all blessed that we had our homes to come back to,” said Nieto. “And we’re ready to get back into the swing of things and finish.”

For more information on TSTC Welding Technology visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Introduces Robotics Technology Degree to Fort Bend County

(FORT BEND) – Robots are a way of the future. They can be found inside manufacturing and distribution centers and state-of-the-art factories and at Texas State Technical College.

Students can now enroll in Robotics Technology, one of four new programs being offered at TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus, and learn how to program and operate a fast-growing robotic population.

“Our program offers students a path to learning cutting-edge automated system technologies in the industry,” said TSTC’s State Department Chair of Instrumentation Technology Bob Lovelace.

Robotics Technology is a five-semester program in which students learn about automated manufacturing processes, the role of robots and support equipment through instruction in areas such as motion programming, conveyor systems and computer networking.

Students in the program will also receive hands-on, real-word experience in the class with the opportunity of setting up industrial robots and designing and building electromechanical Robotics Technology studentcontrol systems.

“Our students will train with the most used industrial robots in the industry,” said Lovelace. “Because of our training they will be able to be successful in any manufacturing job they find themselves in.”

Lovelace added that a career in robotics can be diverse and gives graduates an array of options when job searching. He also proudly stated that this type of accomplishment has been evident with the Robotic Technology program in Waco since 1999.

“The demand for highly-skilled technicians is growing,” he said. “And we provide the best entry-level technicians money can buy.”

Graduates from TSTC’s Robotics Technology can expect to find jobs as robotic technicians, electro-mechanical technicians, mechanical engineering technicians and electromechanical equipment assemblers.

“We put as much emphasis on putting people to work, as we do putting them in the classroom,” said Lovelace. “It is this effort that makes TSTC students and our funding model successful.”

TSTC has an outcome-based funding model meaning TSTC gets paid based on students’ job placement and earnings after they graduate, rather than initial enrollment.

“Our students have no limits on where they can go after getting a degree from TSTC,” said Lovelace. “And in this new program it’s no different.”

For more information on Robotics Technology and to apply and register anytime, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC in Fort Bend County Holds Inaugural Commencement Ceremony

(FORT BEND) – Texas State Technical College’s commencement ceremony held Tuesday at the Rosenberg Civic Center was a celebration of many firsts for the college and for Precision Machining Technology student Eleazar Alanis Dorantes.

“You are the first graduating class of this newly created Fort Bend campus,” said Randall Wooten, TSTC vice chancellor and chief execution officer. “Tonight as you walk across this stage, many of you will become the first to graduate in your families.”

Which happens to be the case for Dorantes.

The 20-year-old Mexican native moved to the United States four years ago with his family and siblings and is a first-generation college graduate.

He received his certificate Tuesday night in Precision Machining Technology and was named one of only four Board of Regent honor graduates for his perfect 4.0 GPA (grade-point average).

“Graduating feels great. I can’t believe I’m finally here,” said Dorantes. “It’s exciting and it shows that all of my hard work paid off.”

Despite a slight language barrier and a daily 45-minute drive to and from school, Dorantes persevered.Eleazar Dorantes

“I’m proud of what I have accomplished,” said Dorantes. “I hope I’m setting a good example for my brothers and sisters and that this encourages them to continue their education. If I can do it, so can they.”

Dorantes’ mother Guadalupe Dorantes said she is very proud of her son. From a small machine shop in Mexico as a helper and a runner to a college graduate, she said he has come a long way.

“Since kindergarten he would tell me he was going to graduate from college. And here he is,” she said. “I am so proud of him. He is a great kid and it makes me happy seeing him work so hard and achieve everything he sets his mind to.”

Tuesday night’s commencement ceremony marked yet another milestone for the TSTC legacy and TSTC Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Mike Reeser had three important pieces of advice for the college’s graduates.

“Keep up with changes and reinvent yourself, stay true to principles and be someone your employers will treasure,” he said. “You want to be the person with world-class skills and be the someone they want.”

Other speakers included Master of Ceremonies and TSTC Field Development Officer John Kennedy and TSTC Board of Regent Joe Gurecky, a product of technical education.

“A technical education can change hundreds, even thousands of lives, the way it did for my wife and me,” he told graduates.

He spoke of his past from having to choose to pay rent or feed their children and about their found success.

“We took a risk starting our business, the way many of your took a risk coming back to school, but with hard work you find success,” he said. “Speaking of hard work, I have a Czech proverb I use often: Bez Prace-Nej su Kolache — Without work there are no kolaches.”

The night ended with faculty lining the aisle and giving every graduate a high-five, handshake and a hug.

And as for Dorantes, he will return to TSTC in the fall to begin his journey to obtain an associate degree.