(HARLINGEN) – Rogelio Garcia is a small-town guy from Roma, Texas, but has accomplished big dreams at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County and will graduate with his associate degree in Cyber Security Technology this Thursday.
“TSTC has been a great ride,” said Garcia. “I never thought I could accomplish something like this at my age.”
This is a career change for the 37-year-old who spent nearly 13 years in the retail industry serving as a multi-unit manager for chains such as Kirkland’s, Anna’s Linens and Sears.
“Retail is all I’ve known since high school,” he said. “I hadn’t been in a college classroom since my early 20’s. It was intimidating making a change.”
Garcia had attempted the college and university life before TSTC. He studied Criminal Justice at a Rio Grande Valley community college and a university in San Antonio, but neither was the right fit.
“In the long run I realized criminal justice was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” said Garcia. “I couldn’t find anything I was passionate about, until now.”
With the instability and hectic schedules that come with working retail, Garcia, with the support of his wife of 14 years, quit his job and they moved to Houston in hopes of finding better opportunities.
“We always heard from others that Houston has tons of opportunities and work available, so we decided to make the move,” he said. “And it was perfect timing with the opening of the TSTC campus in our area.”
Garcia said he did not know what he was getting himself into; he had no idea what cyber security was about. The only computer experience he had was with point-of-sale systems and online shopping.
Disregarding his insecurity about the program, Garcia enrolled in January 2017 and since then has found success as a student and student leader on campus.
“Yes, there were moments I felt like giving up,” he said. “Moments I wondered what I was doing. It was a risk, but a risk worth taking.”
Garcia credits his Cyber Security Technology Instructor Ryan Hill for the reason why he did not quit school this time around.
“Mr. Hill was my guidance and saved me when I was ready to quit,” said Garcia. “He was the first person I saw on my first day and the one that mentored me along the way. He’s a great asset to TSTC and overall a great person. He believes in me and believes that I can do great things.”
Hill described Garcia as a great joy to have in class, a pleasure to work with, and one of the most dedicated students he’s seen.
“As a dedicated student and leader, he was always the first to arrive and the last to leave,” said Hill. “It is his dedication and earnest involvement on campus and in the community that will allow him to graduate with distinction. It is this drive, determination and ability that will make him a valued asset at any company he chooses.”
Garcia will graduate with a 3.9 grade-point average, with honors and memories he said he will cherish and miss.
Along with adjusting to student life and studying to maintain his impressive GPA, Garcia also served as TSTC in Fort Bend County’s Student Government Association president, where he recently led a school supply drive and benefit and was one of the first inductees into the campuses newly established honor society, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, where he served as vice president.
Garcia also worked on campus as a Student Ambassador and New Student Orientation volunteer conducting campus tours and welcoming new and prospective students on campus.
“Being active on campus gave me a whole new outlook on college and improved my experience,” said Garcia. “It allowed me to meet new people, make new friends, make a difference in the community, and make college memorable. I’ve enjoyed every moment and I’m going to miss it.”
So what’s next for Garcia?
He already has a few job offers on the table that he is reviewing. He ultimately hopes to work as a network administrator and Garcia is looking forward to celebrating this accomplishment with his wife, parents and in-laws on Thursday and can’t wait to put on his cap and gown and walk across the commencement stage.
TSTC in Fort Bend County’s Commencement Ceremony will be held Thursday, August 16 at the Stafford Centre in Stafford, Texas at 6 p.m.
By Emily Swartz
(FORT BEND) – Joshua Schott, a Texas State Technical College Robotics Technology student, grew up in less-than ideal circumstances.
“Growing up I had no idea where my next meal was going to come from,” said Schott. “My life was less about success through education and more about survival.”
Schott attended Palacios High School where he received a 2.1 grade-point average.
During that time, school was not a priority.
“I didn’t receive much of a high school education,” said Schott. “I knew that I didn’t have many options as far as higher education, but I ended up getting my degree anyways at ITT Technical Institute.”
At ITT Tech, Schott refocused on his education. He received a 4.0 grade-point average and graduated with an associate degree in Electronics.
Without much luck finding a job in his desired field, he made the decision to enroll at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County.
“My wife is the person that inspired me to pursue my education. We did our research together and waited for the Fort Bend campus to open,” said Schott.
The 38-year-old plans to earn his associate degree in Summer 2020 to venture out into the medical field. He wants to help develop new exoskeletal technology to aid in mobility for people that are paraplegic, including his two sons with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is an inherited disorder of progressive muscular weakness typically in boys and in one of the many types of muscular dystrophy.
“My sons are where I get my passion from,” said Schott. “I really want to make a difference for them through my career. “My dream is that all kids confined to wheelchairs are granted this opportunity.”
Darcy Schott, Schott’s wife speaks to his resilience.
“Joshua is a dedicated husband and father. He has never given up,” she said. “He gives his time selflessly and is always willing to help another person in any way he can. Robotics is just another way for him to tirelessly help not only his family, but humanity as a whole.”
Schott’s family members are not the only ones proud of him. TSTC Electronic Power and Controls instructor Jonathan Bonkoske sings praises for the helpful student.
“He is a high quality student who personifies the technical skills education that TSTC provides,” said Bonkoske. “He has always been available to help those who need a hand with class work and I look forward to seeing him excel in our program and his career.”
Schott’s wishes for after graduation are simple.
“I hope to provide enough finances to purchase a house, to no longer rely on government assistance, and take my family on a vacation,” he said.
For more information on the Texas State Technical College Robotics Technology program, visit tstc.edu.
Registration is going on now. First day of class is August 27.
(WACO) – Texas State Technical College mourned Wednesday the loss of former Texas legislator Murray Watson Jr., who filed legislation in 1969 to separate what was an arm of the Texas A&M University system into a stand-alone institution for technical education that would become TSTC.
“If there was ever a Mr. TSTC, it would be Murray Watson,” said Elton Stuckly Jr., TSTC’s executive vice chancellor and chief strategic relations officer.
Watson died Tuesday at age 86.
Watson was a state senator when he filed legislation to make the James Connally Technical Institute independent and rename it Texas State Technical Institute (now TSTC). Gov. Preston Smith signed the bill’s final version in May 1969 in Austin.
At TSTC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in April 2015 in Austin, Watson was honored with a Founder’s Award.
Watson’s name is on TSTC’s student recreation center on Campus Drive. That factored into his wife, Greta, having been honored with the nearby Culinary Arts building being named for her.
“Murray and I walked out of the old (TSTC) system’s building, and we were about a million dollars short to build the new Culinary Arts Center,” Stuckly said. “I said, ‘Mr. Watson, I want you to think about something. Your name is on that (the recreation center) building. Wouldn’t it be nice for it (the new building) to be called the Greta W. Watson Culinary Arts Center? If you give us a million dollars, you could look at each other forever.’ It wasn’t a couple of weeks later that he called and said he was going to do it.”
Stuckly said Watson was a mentor who would give him advice.
“He always stayed in contact with me by email,” Stuckly said. “He was always looking for ways and ideas of how to make TSTC a better college.”
Stuckly said he and Watson always found much to talk about.
“He grew up in Mart, and I was raised in Penelope,” Stuckly said. “He always wanted to ask about TSTC first, then talk about farm cattle and his feed store and what I used to do on the farm. He said, ‘Elton, there aren’t many people that I can talk to who relate to those times.’”
Verna Lastrapes, a TSTC college outreach specialist, grew up knowing the Watson family in Mart. She said Watson’s family owned the local feed store, which she would visit as a four-year-old with her father at least twice a week to catch up with residents.
“Murray Jr. was a senior at Mart High School then,” she said. “I knew him well because he and my sister, Barbara, were friends.”
Pete Rowe, TSTC’s vice president for institutional development, hauled hay for Watson when he was a teenager in Mart. Rowe also graduated from Mart High School.
“It’s a personal loss for me because I loved him so much,” Rowe said. “He was a great mentor to me. He and Mrs. Watson have always been very kind to me and have done a lot for me in my life and career.”
Lastrapes said residents in Mart thought Watson would be president one day.
“He did not become president, but he did become our state representative and our state senator,” she said. “As a teenager, I remember helping campaign for him. Just about everyone in Mart campaigned for him.”
The feed store factored into Watson’s law career.
“When he lost the campaign for U.S. representative and went into private law practice, he had his office in Waco and one in Mart above the feed store,” Lastrapes said. “For years that is where he conducted all legal transactions with my daddy and other rural area farmers and businessmen.”
Rowe said Watson raised cattle andis sure he must have encountered on his ranch some of what TSTC teaches today.
“Murray was a highly intelligent person,” he said. “He was way ahead of the curve in the education field. He really studied education. He knew what to do.”
Lastrapes worked several years at the Brazos Higher Education Service Corp. Inc., which financed student loans. Watson was one of the organization’s founders.
“He had his own time schedule,” she said. “We began to say, ‘The starting time is when Murray Watson gets there.’ That was for everything!”
John K. Hatchel, chair of the TSTC Board of Regents, worked with Watson as a member of the Brazos Higher Education Service’s board of directors.
“He was very quiet, but he was consistent,” Hatchel said. “If there was a person who needed something or help, he was the first in line to do his part. He did it not expecting any accolades or thank-you’s. He just did it as a person.”
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.
(WACO) – Students calculated, hammered and stirred their way through the first day of competitions Wednesday at SkillsUSA’s 54th National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.
Texas State Technical College students from the Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, Waco and West Texas campuses participated in events such as Additive Manufacturing, CNC Technician, Internetworking and Medical Math at the Kentucky Exposition Center. The students qualified for the national conference by winning at SkillsUSA Texas’ state conference in April in Waco.
Noah McCoy, 21, a 2015 graduate of Saint Joseph Academy in Brownsville, represents TSTC in Harlingen in the Automated Manufacturing Technology team contest.
“There are different expectations,” McCoy said. “We are a three-man team. Miguel (Zamarripa) knows machining and Carlos (Davila) is strong in drafting. It’s pretty cool.”
McCoy went to the national contest in 2017 and competed in Technical Drafting.
I’m a little more prepared,” he said. “We show the other students around and how things go.”
Alexander Oldham, 30, is a Computer Networking and Systems Administration major at TSTC in Brownwood taking part in Technical Computer Applications. He said the contest’s components complement what he is studying.
“You never stop learning,” Oldham said.
Oldham, like many students attending the conference, has been trading state delegation pins. So far, he has gotten pins from Georgia, Illinois and Iowa, but has not gotten the elusive Hawaii or Puerto Rico pins yet.
The buildup to Wednesday began Monday night when state meetings were held to go over conference information and rules.
On Tuesday, the opening ceremony was held at historic Freedom Hall and included national awards, a high school parade of states and remarks from NASCAR Team Penske driver and Michigan native Brad Keselowski.
Keselowski talked about his development in racing and how several technical careers factored into his line of work. He said the more effort people put toward their goals, the better the results will be.
“I think the USA will continue to get stronger because of you guys,” Keselowski said, vowing his support to SkillsUSA.”
Attendees cheered when Keselowski changed on stage out of the navy blue blazer he was wearing into SkillsUSA’s signature red jacket.
“Everyone here is a winner,” he said. “This coat represents winners. I like winners.”
The national conference has 102 events with an attendance of 18,000 people, including students, teachers and representatives of 600 national companies, trade associations, labor unions and businesses, according to information from SkillsUSA.
Competitions continue Thursday, along with students visiting Kentucky Kingdom, an amusement park on the grounds of the exposition center.
The closing ceremony will be Friday night at Freedom Hall, where more than 1,000 gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded to secondary and postsecondary competitors.
“When students succeed, America succeeds,” Timothy Lawrence, executive director of SkillsUSA, told attendees at Tuesday night’s opening ceremony,
For more information on SkillsUSA, go to skillsusa.org.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.
(FORT BEND) – Texas State Technical College Diesel Equipment Technology student Troy Ketchum will be graduating in the coming months, but not before travelling to Louisville, Kentucky as the first student from TSTC in Fort Bend County to compete at the 54th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.
“You can feel the excitement around campus building up about my travel to the upcoming event,” said the 30-year-old. “I hope I can make everyone proud.”
At the end of the month, the Rosenberg native will compete against thousands of other students from across the United States in hopes of bringing home a gold medal in his category: Job Skills Presentation.
SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help high school and college students pursue successful careers. Members build these skills through student-led team meetings, hands-on competitions, leadership conferences and other activities.
“The student body knows that they are being represented at these events and they are big supporters of Troy,” said Wooten. “All of us here are thrilled by having our first competitor at the SkillsUSA national level.”
Wooten also said that he has been involved in Ketchum’s dry-run presentations and practices since before the state competition and he knew immediately that he would be hard to beat.
“It’s obvious that Troy has what it takes to win. He’s a strong contender,” said Wooten. “And having our college represented in Kentucky means that even though we’re the newest and one of the smallest right now, we can run with the big dogs.”
The United States Navy veteran has been preparing his presentation, “The Importance of Proper Tread Depth and Safety of Truck Tires,” and his delivery non-stop for this competition.
Ketchum has taken two days out of the week since the beginning of the year to present in front of students, faculty and staff at the campus.
“I practice in front of anyone who is willing to listen,” said Ketchum. “And I welcome all feedback.”
Spencer Paige, lead instructor for Diesel Equipment Technology and SkillsUSA advisor, said Ketchum has told him that he even practices while driving, at work and at home in front his brother or a mirror.
“He has put in so much work and effort into SkillsUSA. We are proud him,” said Paige. “We are positive that he will do well and represent TSTC positively.
Paige added, “The fact that this is our campus’ first SkillsUSA chapter and we’re headed to nationals is remarkable and we hope that more students join us next year. This is a great organization that teaches lessons and skills that stay with you forever.”
Ketchum, who is also looking forward to graduating in August said that the skills he has learned in class and by competing in SkillsUSA have prepared him for a job in his field and for what he calls a leap from waiting tables full time.
“As soon as I return from SkillsUSA I’ll start on job applications. I feel so accomplished and excited entering this next phase in my life,” he said. “But first, I want to bring home the gold for TSTC and Fort Bend County.”
Ketchum and at least 50 other TSTC students statewide will be competing at the week-long event, June 25-29.
(FORT BEND) – Administration officials at Texas State Technical College welcomed two new regents to the TSTC family during a dinner and special meeting of its Board of Regents at the college’s Fort Bend County campus in Rosenberg last week.
TSTC Board of Regents Chairman John K. Hatchel of Woodway was also reappointed by the governor; he was first appointed to the board in September 2011.
“TSTC is a great college that does great things,” said McDonald. “I’m honored to be part of the work they’re already doing, and my goal is to work closely with the board members in getting the legislative funding we need.”
TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser described McDonald as an asset to the board.
“Mr. McDonald’s extensive professional experience in the not-for-profit sector and in economic development will be a great resource for the Board of Regents,” said Reeser. “We’re especially honored to have representation from Fort Bend County, which is home to our newest TSTC campus.”
McDonald, who holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University, serves as president and chief executive officer of the Henderson-Wessendorff Foundation. He is also a member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, director of the Morton Cemetery Association and the Winston Foundation, and is a former trustee and chair of the George Foundation.
Tremont, who is founder, president and CEO of Silotech Group Inc., said she is excited about her new appointment.
“I’m honored to have been trusted by the governor’s office for this appointment,” said Tremont, a service-disabled veteran of the U.S. Air Force. “My goal is to grow the number of women who pursue cybersecurity and science, technology, engineering and mathematics educations and careers.”
Tremont holds a Bachelor of Science degree in information systems management from the University of Maryland University College, where she is completing a Master of Science degree in cybersecurity management and policy. She is a former vice president of the Young Alamo chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) and a former president of the National Association for Female Executives San Antonio.
“Ms. Tremont brings leading-edge-level technical experience and has achieved an outstanding level of professional success,” said Reeser. “Likewise, TSTC has robust offerings in IT and cybersecurity, so we’re excited to have her unique perspective as part of our governing body.”
Hatchel, who is serving his second term, is also the former chairman of the TSTC Board of Regents’ Finance Committee.
Before retirement, Hatchel served for 33 years in municipal administration in various cities in Texas, including Abilene, Plainview and Waco.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University). He is a life member of the Texas City Management Association and the International City Management Association, and a member of the Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation, Texas Legal Board of Directors and the State Bar of Texas Standing Committee on Minimum Continuing Legal Education.
“I am very pleased and glad that I was appointed for another term,” said Hatchel. “It’s great being a part of the TSTC family and working toward creating a quality workforce for Texas. I am very passionate about what the college does, and I sing praises about TSTC wherever I go.”
Hatchel added, “I always tell people that the way you spell TSTC is J-O-B-S.”
Leaving the board is Joe M. Gurecky of Rosenberg, appointed in 2006 and reappointed in 2011, and Joe Hearne of Dallas, appointed in 2006 and reappointed in 2011.
(FORT BEND) – In what was an emotional Texas State Technical College Board of Regents meeting, outgoing regent Joe M. Gurecky was recognized for his service to the college, the manufacturing industry and the community.
(FORT BEND) – Texas State Technical College Cyber Security Technology student Esteban Martinez from the Fort Bend County campus has waited a long time for graduation day, and tonight, he receives his associate degree with a job offer in hand.
The Needville native will join more than 30 of his peers at TSTC’s Commencement ceremonies being held at the Rosenberg Civic Center and will become a member of an alumni network more than 100,000 strong.
“I’m excited to be graduating. I don’t have to worry about studying and tests anymore, said Martinez while laughing. “In all seriousness though I feel so happy and fulfilled now.”
The 32-year-old began his college journey at the University of Texas-Pan American in the Rio Grande Valley, now known as the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He was a pre-med student, but as Martinez puts it, life happened.
With a passion for the medical field and computers, Martinez tried for months to find an information technology job in a hospital, but every position required a college education and degree.
After seeing a few TSTC advertisements about the campus’ new Cyber Security Technology program, he said he knew what he had to do.
“This was my chance to get the education I needed to get ahead and the career I wanted,” said Martinez.
Throughout his two years as a full-time student at TSTC, he also worked full-time as a cook at a local restaurant and built and repaired computers as a side job.
“It has been a huge challenge and sacrifice. There have been so many hours spent away from my wife and children,” he said. “But I did what I had to do as a husband, father and provider.”
The sacrifice and the work paid off for Martinez. He is now a field service technician with Puffer-Sweiven in Stafford, a leading provider of automation valves, measurement and process control solutions in Southeastern Texas.
“I feel like I can actually enjoy commencement now because I don’t have to worry about job hunting,” he said. “It’s such a load off to know I’m set with a secure job and excellent pay.”
Martinez credits his success and preparedness for the “real-world” to his instructors, their experience, the hands-on training and the additional certifications he received in various software.
He also said he could not have done it without the financial aid and Texas Success Scholarship he received from the college, which minimized financial stress.
“I got training and certifications that I couldn’t have found anywhere else,” he said. “Everything we did in class prepared us to be critical thinkers and self-starters. We (students) definitely leave this program more marketable and competitive out in the field.”
His wife and children will be sitting in the audience as Martinez walks in to “Pomp and Circumstance” and walks across the stage in his cap and gown.
“I hope this sets an example for my sons, that if you want something, hard work and believing in yourself will help you accomplish your goals,” he said.
TSTC’s commencement ceremony will be held at the Rosenberg Civic Center tonight at 6 p.m. with TSTC Regent Pat McDonald and President of Si Environmental Jeff Haley, who also serves as Treasure for the Fort Bend Economic Development Council Executive Committee, addressing the graduates and their families as this year’s commencement speaker.