Category Archives: All TSTC

Mother-daughter duo finds success at TSTC

(HARLINGEN) – Missy and Micah Valdez, mother and daughter, are a duo to be reckoned with. Both are students at Texas State Technical College who hold each other to high standards and have high hopes for each other’s success.

The journey to TSTC began untraditionally for Missy. She had been in the banking business for three decades and risen to senior bank manager and vice president at a local bank before being laid off in 2017.

“I dedicated nearly 22 years of my career to (that) place, and just like that I lost my job,” said Missy. “It’s been a difficult transition. But I’m ready for a career change, and TSTC has been there for me.”

Wasting no time, Missy used the tuition assistance that was included in her severance package to enroll in the Health Information Technology program at TSTC in Harlingen.

But transitioning from a high-level position and six-figure salary to student life was no easy feat.

“I’m 49 and hadn’t been in a classroom since high school, so it was intimidating,” said Missy. “I’m definitely one of (the oldest), if not the oldest, in class.”

Missy got her dream job as a bank teller straight out of high school and said because of that she never pursued a college education.Micah and Missy Valdez

But despite her fears and the challenges she faces as a full-time student, wife and mother, Missy has maintained a 3.9 grade-point average and earned spots on the vice chancellor’s and dean’s lists.

“None of this would be possible without the support of my children and husband,” said Missy. “They have been nothing but encouraging and understanding.”

Missy expects to graduate from Health Information Technology with an associate degree in Spring 2019 and will return to TSTC to apply for the vocational nursing and registered nursing programs.

“I am so proud of my mom and everything she has accomplished,” said Micah. “She’s a go-getter and an inspiration. To watch her get an education to better herself has been a great journey, and I’m glad we get to do college together.”

The 22-year-old is enrolled in Surgical Technology and hopes to graduate with her associate degree in Summer 2019.

She and her mother were no strangers to TSTC before they enrolled.

When Micah was in high school, her father underwent open-heart surgery, and she recalls being mesmerized by the staff who nursed him back to health. Eventually she received a nursing assistant certificate from TSTC as a dual-enrollment student at Harlingen South High School.

“I’ve always been interested in the medical field, but I really began pursuing a career in it after my father became ill,” she said. “I want to be to others what my dad’s medical staff was for him and our family, and TSTC allows me to do this close to home.”

The Harlingen native and her father are like two peas in pod. “We do everything together,” said Micah.

Micah recently began her clinicals at Valley Baptist Medical Center and said she is excited to begin the journey of patient care.

“TSTC provides the perfect space. We have fully functional operating rooms equipped with a mannequin, lights, and all of the tools and instruments we’ll be working with in industry,” said Micah. “For me, this makes learning easy and fun.”

Micah hopes one day to become a surgical nurse.

She said having her mom on campus as a peer has made her experience even better.

“I’m happy to have her on campus. I told all of my friends right away about her coming to TSTC,” said Micah. “We see each other around campus sometimes, and we even study together at home. We help each other out.”

Both women agree that they admire their instructors’ knowledge and experience and enjoy the hands-on training TSTC provides because they know it will help them become the best in their professions.

The one thing they wish they could change: not graduating together.

“It would be great if we were graduating the same semester. That would be a grand celebration. But at least we only have to purchase one cap and gown,” Missy said with a laugh.

For more information on Surgical Technology or Health Information Technology, visit

TSTC hosts annual Rio Grande Valley Counselor Update

(HARLINGEN) – Diana Alejos went from exhibit to exhibit, speaking with faculty and learning about the more than 30 technical programs offered at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen, during the college’s annual Counselor Update hosted at the TSTC Wellness and Sports Center.

“I enjoyed this event very much. Many of my colleagues agree that this was the best one yet,” said Alejos, migrant counselor at J. Economedes High School in Edinburg.

Alejos was one of nearly 50 counselors from across the Rio Grande Valley who attended this year’s update.

“The event was an absolute success,” said Erica Gonzalez, TSTC coordinator of Student Recruitment. “This event is one of the largest we host to ensure that counselors have the latest information they need about TSTC to pass along to their students.”

Gonzalez said changes were made this year to give counselors access to more information and update them on recruitment and enrollment processes, dual enrollment and student learning.

In the past, the update has consisted of a campus tour and an in-depth look into at least three or four technical programs. But this year, TSTC created a program showcase, giving counselors access to every program on campus and the opportunity to speak with faculty from every Counselor Updateprogram.

Gonzalez said the changes to this year’s event were met with positive feedback.

“It was refreshing to see the new setup,” said Alejos. “To have every program in one place was an upgrade. It really gave my colleagues and me an in-depth look into the programs TSTC offers, compared to only visiting a few.”

“It is my goal to get all of the information I can to better serve our migrant population. I definitely gained a lot by attending this update and have a lot of information to pass along to our students,” she added.

Counselors were treated to a breakfast and lunch catered by TSTC’s Culinary Arts students; a message from the keynote speaker, local attorney and TSTC alumna Krista Guiter, who discussed her experience at TSTC and spoke about empowering young girls to get a higher education; and presentations from three TSTC students: Bianca Moreno, Juanita Salinas and Carlos Obregon.

Obregon received an associate degree in Computer Maintenance Technology in 2016. He is pursuing a second associate degree in Health Information Technology and works as a community assistant for TSTC Housing.

He said he enjoyed sharing his TSTC experience with counselors and hopes that his words made an impact and can help other students.

“I hope counselors will be inspired to tell their students about my experience, especially as a migrant student. Education is not always first on our priority list,” said Obregon.

“I also had a great migrant counselor in high school who pushed me and motivated me to continue my education. Without her, I wouldn’t be here. And because she was at the event, I got a chance to thank her personally,” he added.

That counselor is Alejos.

“Seeing Carlos, hearing his story and learning about everything he has accomplished at TSTC was a highlight for me and very unexpected,” said Alejos. “And it was especially touching when he thanked me for my time as his counselor.”

Gonzalez said she hopes to maintain the new event format for future Counselor Updates, which are hosted statewide among TSTC’s 10 campuses.

“Our core values at TSTC are excellence, integrity, accountability and service, and the Counselor Update is a great place to model who we are,” said Gonzalez. “We want them to know that at TSTC we go above and beyond for our students, and their success is our top priority.”

To learn more about TSTC and the technical programs offered, visit

Student Success Profile – Amanda Perez

(HARLINGEN) – Amanda PerezAmanda Perez is a Vocational Nursing student at Texas State Technical College. The Los Fresnos native holds a 3.1 grade-point average and expects to graduate with her certificate in Summer 2019.

The 21-year-old is an active member of the Vocational Nursing Club, where she serves as parliamentarian. She also works as a nursing assistant at a Brownsville nursing home.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan on working for one year to gain experience and then return to TSTC to pursue an associate degree in registered nursing.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become a pediatric nurse. The children are our future, and I want to help keep them healthy or nurse them back to health when they’re sick. I feel like I can make a positive impact in this area.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment at TSTC was graduating with my certificate from the nursing assistant program and gaining employment immediately. TSTC, in a nutshell, has given me the opportunity of continual growth.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned about myself is that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. I’ve learned to have more faith in myself and my skills. The nursing assistant and the vocational nursing programs have really helped me discover and unlock my potential.

Who at TSTC has had the greatest influence on your success?

My nursing assistant and vocational nursing instructor, Emily Gonzalez, has had the most influence on my success. She has always encouraged me to keep going when life gets too hard and has motivated me to get involved with our program clubs and get out of my comfort zone.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

Study, study and study. Learn as much as you can; TSTC gives you that opportunity. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions; that’s the only way to learn new things.

TSTC Alumna Looks to Inspire Women to Pursue Medical Repair Field

(WACO) – Rosie the Riveter, the World War II symbol of a woman’s working world, is still important today to Texas State Technical College alumna Rhiannon Thurmond.

A small doll version of the icon is Thurmond’s travel companion on work assignments as a working manager for the regional branch of Ultimate Biomedical Solutions in Magnolia. Thurmond’s Rosie the Riveter carries a tool bag and is an inspiration for her work.

“I get in my truck and see her hanging there and say to myself, ‘We can do it,’” Thurmond said. “Be the example you would want your kids to see. This speaks to my heart as I have two girls. My youngest is in second grade and my oldest is in high school. I hope they see me doing great things and walk away inspired. I was a single mom when I started at TSTC.”

Some of Thurmond’s job duties include meeting monthly preventive maintenance and corrective quotas, negotiating contracts and helping to purchase new medical devices for clients. Her work is done at surgical centers, emergency rooms and imaging centers in the Austin, Dallas and Houston areas.

She recently received certification from Penlon, an international company specializing in anesthesia, intubation, oxygen therapy and suction equipment.

“Every day is a new opportunity to assist in the growth of my company,” Thurmond said. “I provide as much value as I can by offering new, dynamic ideas to improve our task management software, business processes and new account acquisitions.”

Jobs for medical equipment repairers are expected to grow to more than 49,000 through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Woodlands – Houston – Sugar Land area has the highest number of medical equipment repairers in the state with about 850 workers.

Roger Bowles, a TSTC instructor in the Biomedical Equipment Technology program, is encouraged by the number of jobs available in the field for graduates.

“It’s wide open,” he said. “They just need to be flexible about where they need to go.”

Thurmond grew up in Bryan and San Marcos. She was influenced to pursue her career by her mother-in-law, an emergency room trauma nurse.

“I have always enjoyed tinkering with electronics,” Thurmond said. “I used to tear apart my brother’s fire engines for the LEDs to make flashlights so I could stay up late and read after my mom said it was lights-out.”

Thurmond graduated in 2006 from TSTC with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology.

“When I went to TSTC, there were only a handful of us gals, and by the end of the semester, I believe there were only two in my graduating class,” Thurmond said.  “If you are a female interested in the Biomedical Equipment Technology field, don’t let that stigma that a woman can’t do well in the technology field stop you. Put on your boots, be confident and absorb everything like a sponge.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Faculty Senate Hosts Retiree Gala

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College’s Faculty Senate honored the past and present at its first Retiree Gala on Saturday night at the Baylor Club.

Attendees dined and danced the evening away as they saw sweeping views of Waco. They also vied for prizes from some of TSTC’s technical programs and sang karaoke.

“The best way to live is to serve,” Adam Hutchison, TSTC’s provost, told the attendees.

Frances Worthey retired in 2016 having worked “40 years and three months” in student counseling, women’s resources and student life.

Worthey said when she began work in 1976 at TSTC there were about 100 women attending classes. She said it was a challenge educating the campus and community about the importance of women pursuing technical education.

“I enjoyed the special times at TSTC, like the holidays,” Worthey said. “We did so much for the students.”

Charles Reed worked for 25 years at TSTC and retired in 2007 as the vice president for student development. He said he started as a student recruiter and worked his way up at the technical college.

“I loved the students and the belief in them and putting them in the workforce,” Reed said.

Two TSTC students each were awarded a $500 scholarship at the event.

Cici Bunting, 19, a Culinary Arts student from La Porte, created an ornamental red, white and blue cake for the occasion and helped make the vanilla and chocolate cake served to attendees. She said she would use some of the scholarship money to buy a new Culinary Arts uniform.

“It came at a good time,” Bunting said.

Bunting represented TSTC at SkillsUSA’s 54th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference earlier this year in Kentucky. Her instructors cited her willingness to volunteer for program events as a reason she was deserving of the scholarship.

“I really like the science and how much you have to think,” Bunting said about her decision to pursue culinary arts.

Jesus Madrigal, 19, a Welding Technology student from Waco, also received a scholarship. He built a metal windmill in a contest for welding students to decide the scholarship recipient. His instructors said he has a bright career future.

“Being a college student, any amount of money helps,” Madrigal said. “It’s an honor to receive this.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Unveils New Emergency Medical Services Simulator

(BROWNWOOD) – Texas State Technical College’s Emergency Medical Services program celebrated its new ambulance simulator with an open house on Wednesday.

The Brownwood Municipal Development District and the city of Brownwood provided about $50,000 in funding for the simulator, said Andy Weaver, TSTC’s statewide director for Allied Health and Emergency Medical Services.

“This will help grow the program for students to have better learning opportunities,” Weaver said.

He said students will get as close to a real-life experience as possible while working in the simulator, which is roughly the size of an ambulance without the cab and engine.

Ray Tipton, executive director of the Brownwood Municipal Development District, said the organization is committed to helping educational entities develop skills to drive economic development.

“TSTC has been a valuable partner with Brownwood in developing technical skills,” he said. “We have a lot of highly technical-skilled jobs here. TSTC is a tool we use a lot to talk to companies when recruiting.”

Some students said they have enjoyed being in the simulator, which features operational blue and red lights.

Kaitlyn Gipson, 21, of Brownwood is a certificate student in the technical program she described as intense and fast-paced.

“It gives us a real look in the ambulance and how we do certain things,” she said. “You have to be committed to this field to work in it.”

Gipson said she was inspired to pursue the field because some of her relatives are in the medical field.

“I wanted to be on the front lines,” she said.

Ethan Rhodes, 18, of Brownwood is studying to earn an emergency medical technician certification to help him become a firefighter. He said he likes being in the simulator because he can learn with his hands.

The simulator is in the Emergency Medical Services program’s new lecture and lab space in TSTC’s Welcome Center. The program also has a new mock emergency room and video capability for lessons.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

El Campo native finds his way to a cool career at TSTC

(FORT BEND) – Nearly a decade after graduating from high school Randy Ratcliff became a college student, proving that it is never too late to get an education or a successful career.

“TSTC changed my life for the better,” said Ratcliff. “It set me up with the foundation to give my family better life.”

The 38-year-old, who is married with two children, graduated from TSTC HVAC Technology with a certificate and associate degree in 2009 and 2012 respectively and recently received a promotion – he is now the service manager at El Campo Refrigeration and Restaurant Supply, where he has worked for four years.

He started out as a service technician, but already had extensive experience in commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and refrigeration.

“I enjoy working outside and with my hands,” said Ratcliff. “And HVAC and refrigeration is always going to be a necessity. So for me there was no other career. HVAC was it.”

While Ratcliff waited for his wife to complete her degree, he worked at a polyvinyl chloride, or PVC manufacturing company in Wharton and did his research on colleges that offer HVAC.

“I knew I was looking for a college that offered hands-on learning. I knew a university wasn’t for me,” he said. “After a lot of research, I found TSTC online and when I learned about their hands-on approach, it clicked. It was the college for me.”Randy Ratcliff

College was a challenge for Ratcliff. He was full-time student and had to work to support his family. But because he was an HVAC student, he was able to work for a local refrigeration company performing maintenance on ice machines while gaining experience.

“Everything I was learning in class I could apply out in the field while I worked,” he said. “That’s the beauty of TSTC. You practice with actual machinery and tools you use out in the field. It was enough to set me up with a successful career and make me competitive in my field.”

Ratcliff graduated with several job offers, including a full-time position where he was working at the time.

When El Campo Refrigeration, where he had already applied, learned about his various offers, they made him an offer he could not refuse.

“Randy has great work ethic and fits into our culture well,” said Michael Kennedy, owner of El Campo Refrigeration. “And the one quality that I really admire about Randy is his willingness to work side-by-side with our service technicians to help train and lead.”

Ratcliff said he credits TSTC for helping him make his dreams a reality.

“If not for TSTC I would still be working shifts that keep me away from my family,” he said. “I would not have the opportunities I have been given. TSTC makes you employment-ready and employable.”

Ratcliff, as manager, is now reaching out to TSTC and other local colleges to recruit new employees and said its to help others who may be in the same position he was in when he was school.

“I’m always recommending TSTC, even to the guys I work with,” said Ratcliff. “I know that if I hire students from TSTC they would have received quality hands-on training and be work ready.”

HVAC Technology is offered at TSTC’s Fort Bend County, Harlingen, North Texas, Waco and Williamson County campuses.

For more information, visit


Student Success Profile – Cesar Meza

(HARLINGEN) – Cesar Meza is a Business Management Technology student at Texas State Technical College. The 19-year-old hopes to receive his associate degree by Summer 2019.

Until then, the Harlingen native has a goal of creating a Business Management Technology club so that like-minded students can come together and share their passion for business while doing community service and making the community a better place.Cesar Meza

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate from TSTC, I plan on transferring to the University of Texas to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

What’s your dream job?

I have a passion for business. In fact, my brothers and I are starting up a clothing brand called ESC, which stands for escape. We want our clothing to be considered unique and out of the box and allow people to get creative with fashion. So my dream is to grow this business with them and become a successful clothing business owner.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment has been my grades. I’m proud of myself for maintaining A’s and B’s in all of my classes. Being a college student is not always easy. It takes a lot of hard work and it’s paid off. I’m proud of myself for that.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is to not take time for granted. Time is a precious thing, and one thing TSTC has taught me is time management. Now I am a lot more productive with the time I am given.

Who at TSTC has had the greatest influence on your success?

The person at TSTC who has inspired me the most is Social and Behavioral Science instructor Frank Coronado. He has taught me how to pay attention to detail and how to be an active listener for others and their messages. He is a great instructor and person overall who cares about his students.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

This may sound cliche, but my advice to future TSTC students is to never give up. No matter what cards you are dealt, you must rise and keep going. We can all achieve success; you just have to work hard and push forward.

San Benito native returns to his roots at TSTC

(HARLINGEN) – Agriculture was a way of life for Daniel Agado, but he lost sight of it growing up. Years later, he has returned to his roots and is celebrating one month as the Agricultural Technology lab assistant at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen.

“This month has been great. I can honestly say I have found a career move that is permanent,” said Agado. “I love TSTC, agriculture, and helping students pursue their dreams in this field. To me, this is the next best thing to being a farmer.”

The San Benito native said he always wanted to be a farmer as a young boy. Some of his earliest memories include driving a tractor when he was 8 years old; helping his grandparents and uncle plant and harvest crops such as sorghum, corn and cotton; repairing fences; and helping with animals.

But after high school, feeling pressure to attend a four-year university, he enrolled at the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA), now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and pursued a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

“I wasn’t in the right mindset. I was young, and the transition from high school to college was a difficult one for me,” he said. “I ended up dropping out.”

For a few years after UTPA, Agado worked odd jobs, none of which he considered lifelong careers. So he enrolled at a local community college to study biology.TSTC Agricultural Tech Daniel Agado

He ended up earning his associate degree from South Texas College in 2009, and later he transferred back to UTPA to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology.

“Once again, life got in the way. I had a family to support, and college was no longer a priority,” said Agado, who is married and has three children. “I had to work full time and make a living.”

With his bachelor’s degree nearly completed, Agado left UTPA and worked for nearly six years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Center just north of Edinburg. He had worked part time at this location as a student.

At the USDA, Agado served as a biology researcher studying beneficial insects and managing research farms in Weslaco.

“I truly enjoyed this job, but I felt stuck. I had plateaued and had nowhere to grow,” he said. “But it was these years of experience that led me to TSTC and my current position, so I appreciate it now.”

Agado enrolled in the Wind Energy Technology program at TSTC in 2016. Little did he know that not only was a degree waiting for him, but also a job-offer-turned-career.

“When I first arrived at TSTC, I was offered the position I have now, but I turned it down because I wanted to finish my program,” he said. “But I guess sometimes things are just meant to be, because here I am.”

Agado earned his associate degree in Wind Energy Technology in Spring 2018 as a TSTC Board of Regents honors graduate with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

“I chose wind energy to begin with because it’s a booming career. I knew there would be financial stability,” he said. “I got some great job offers, but I couldn’t relocate my family.”

Agado now assists TSTC Agricultural Technology department chairman and instructor Sammy Gavito and instructor Sheren Farag with their classes and labs.

“Daniel has extensive experience and broad knowledge about the agriculture industry,” said Gavito. “He brings a lot of expertise to different areas of our curriculum and has already shown us that teaching comes naturally to him and is his calling.”

“We are so excited to have Daniel on our team. And I see him growing with TSTC and within our industry. The sky’s the limit for Daniel,” Gavito added.

Come Spring 2019, not only will Agado continue his work as a lab assistant, but he will also be enrolled as a student in the TSTC Agricultural Technology program.

He plans on pursuing an associate degree and later transferring to Texas A&M-Kingsville for a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification in Agriculture Science.

Agado’s goal: “I hope to someday become a full-time instructor with TSTC’s Agricultural Technology program.”

For more information on Agricultural Technology, visit

TSTC, Valley Baptist Medical Center receive TWC grant for training

(HARLINGEN) – The Workforce Development and Continuing Education department at Texas State Technical College, in partnership with Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, recently received a Skills Development Fund grant for customized job training.

The check, in the amount of $301,238, was presented by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) during a ceremony hosted at TSTC’s Cultural Arts Center this week.

The training provided by this grant is already in session and will last one year.

TSTC Workforce Development Executive Director Isidro Ramos said it is an honor to partner with TWC and industry to provide technical skills training.TSTC, Valley Baptist Check Presentation

“TSTC plays a vital role in ensuring that our local communities have a skilled workforce so that we may all grow and prosper,” said Ramos. “This grant makes it possible for employees to stay current in their specialty, increase career mobility and salary, and service our area with the best health care possible.”

The grant provides customized job training for 155 Valley Baptist Medical Center employees such as certified nursing assistants, registered nurses and nurse managers.

The training will focus on health care and social assistance topics, including personal leadership, quality management, trauma care, pediatric care and nurse’s aide skills.

Valley Baptist Chief Nursing Officer Steven Hill calls this grant a blessing to his staff and the community they serve.

“We are excited to have received the funds that will help us train our frontline staff,” said Hill. “TSTC’s training is invaluable and, although classes have only begun, we can already see how it’s benefiting our staff and our department. We will reap the benefits of this grant for years to come.”

Additionally, Valley Baptist employees who successfully complete the trauma and pediatric care after resuscitation, trauma nursing core course and emergency pediatric training will receive professional board certifications.

“These additional certifications not only give our health care professionals an enhanced skill set, but also give our community a higher level of care,” said Hill.

Valley Baptist Medical Center is the only level-two trauma facility south of San Antonio. It already partners with TSTC’s Allied Health division, serving as a practicum site for the college’s vocational nursing and registered nursing students.Julian Alvarez

“The longtime partnership we have with Valley Baptist is tremendous,” said TSTC Provost Cledia Hernandez. “It is a privilege to be able to work closely with them in this and other endeavors. The support we have for each other benefits our campus, our students and our community.”

TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez said the economic impact these types of grants have on the state is large.

“This particular grant has a $307,000 economic impact,” he said. “And because of training like this, our unemployment rate is decreasing and partnerships are growing because we all understand what it takes to improve our workforce.”

“I want to let everyone know that the stars are aligning for the South Texas region because of the support and representation you have in Austin. And TSTC, we thank you for always providing innovative training and understanding industry needs,” Alvarez added.

For more information on training provided by TSTC’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education, call 956-364-4590 or visit