Category Archives: All TSTC

Del Rio Students Find Their Place at TSTC

(WACO) – The tradition of Del Rio High School graduates traveling more than five hours north to attend Texas State Technical College in Waco continues to grow.

“We’re especially proud that the Del Rio community values the work that we do and entrusts their students to us,” said TSTC Provost Adam Hutchison. “It’s a relationship that we intend to keep strong for many years to come.”

Brenden Paradis, 19, is one of at least 15 Del Rio students who were enrolled during the fall semester in TSTC in Waco’s Welding Technology program. He just finished his third semester in the program.

“The reason so many come here is because our (Del Rio High School) welding instructor, Tod Townsend, pushes us beyond high school and to get a college education,” Paradis said.

Knowing that many of Del Rio’s welding students have enrolled at TSTC since the late 1990s, as estimated by TSTC faculty members, made going to college easier for Paradis.

“All of the guys, at first, room together, but after the first year a lot tend to go out on their own,” he said.

Paradis became interested in welding after attending a job fair during his freshman year of high school. He was impressed with sculptures on display that were made by welders.

“I would tell (other) students to really think about their future before their senior year comes up,” Paradis said. “If you haven’t decided on something, it makes it difficult to pick a path to go down.”

After graduating in 2019 from TSTC, Paradis plans to take a summer advanced pipe course on campus and then work in custom fabrication.

Roger Gonzalez, director of career and technical education for the San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District, said district staff looks at job opportunities in the area and reviews Texas Workforce Commission data to adapt classes for students. Some of the school district’s most popular career and technical education (CTE) courses are in aircraft technology, health sciences, law enforcement and welding.

“We want our students to graduate with more than a high school diploma and be future-ready,” Gonzalez said. “The school district continues to invest and expand the CTE program with the use of technology and industry equipment to better prepare our future graduates with expansion of industry certifications and dual-credit opportunities.”

Gonzalez said the students in Del Rio’s welding program build strong relationships with one another, making the transition to college a little easier.

“It seems TSTC is the destination for most of our welding students due to its excellent reputation within the welding community,” he said. “Our welding students never leave us, at least not entirely. Every chance they get, they come to our welding class and share their positive college experience with our current high school students. I believe the reputation and the bridge established between TSTC and our welding program is evidence of our current and future success.”

One Del Rio resident has started what he hopes is a new tradition for Val Verde County students attending TSTC.

Andres Hernandez, 19, of Del Rio finished his first semester in the Automotive Technology – Toyota Technician Training and Education Network, or T-TEN, specialization program. He is among the first generation in his family to go to college.

Hernandez said he has enjoyed the different teaching styles he encounters at TSTC and knowing more about automotive electrical systems.

Hernandez became interested in automobiles when he was a child because of his father, a mechanic. He learned about TSTC when a recruiter visited his high school when he was a sophomore.

“I knew most of the welding students go here (to TSTC),” Hernandez said. “It helped me because I would know some people here.”

Hernandez said he misses his family occasionally but enjoys living on campus. When he is home for visits, he gets work experience as a lube technician at Toyota of Del Rio. He said he also works on tire rotations and other routine maintenance.

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

TSTC Welding grad has a bright future in the industry

(FORT BEND) – Cheyenne Kuta was only 16-years-old when she purchased her first $5,600 welding machine, she knew at the time that this would be a great investment toward her future.

Fast forward to December 2018, she is now a graduate from Welding Technology at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County.

“I’m so excited to finally be celebrating this milestone,” said Kuta. “I’m excited to begin working and looking forward to a successful career in welding.”

The Plantersville native walked across the stage Monday night at the Stafford Centre in Stafford, Texas as an honors graduate with a grade-point average of 3.75 and received two certificates and an associate degree from TSTC.

She joined close to 60 other graduates from TSTC in Fort Bend County who also earned certificates and associate degrees.

“We are so proud of our daughter,” said Kuta’s mother Sandra Kuta. “She has achieved so much at the young age of 19. She’s goal-oriented, driven and determined. All of this has carried her to the top.”Cheyenne Kuta TSTC Welding Grad

Kuta was exposed to the field of welding at an early age by her grandfather and uncle. She eventually began her own welding journey in high school.

She quickly rose to the top, beating a lot of the boys in her class and earning two “Top 10 Awards” in the high school’s welding department.

“I really got into welding. I loved it and I was good at it,” said Kuta. “I had a lot of support and a great mentor.”

That mentor was Don Tullos, president of Texas Boiler Makers in Kuta’s hometown. Kuta said he took her under his wing and always encouraged her to continue in the field no matter what the men said.

“There came a point where I was going to Don’s shop every day to practice my welding,” said Kuta. “Then one day he told me, ‘You’re really great at this. You could make this a career.’ And it all changed for me.”

Tullos was also the person who introduced Kuta to TSTC. She toured both the Waco and Fort Bend County campuses, and although further from home, TSTC in Fort Bend County was the perfect fit for her.

“It was a new campus with new labs and equipment. I couldn’t wait to start,” she said. “There were also still smaller class sizes so that meant more one-on-one time with instructors.”

It was August 2017, when Kuta enrolled at TSTC, set up a trailer at a local RV park, where she stayed during the week; and sped up her program completion by testing out of Welding Technology introduction courses because of the welding experience she brought from high school.

Kuta was even inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.

“TSTC was a really great experience for me. It was a great place to kick-off my welding career,” she said. “And I was fortunate enough to have instructors who believed me, supported me and pushed me to be the best welder I could be.”

TSTC Welding Instructor David Torres called Kuta a great welding student who is goal driven.

“Cheyenne is very dedicated and you can see that dedication in her welding abilities,” said Torres. She’s always lending a helping hand and coming in early and staying late to build her skills. She will go far in this industry; I know she’ll make it because she has all of the skills. Her future is bright.”

Kuta also said the best thing, for her, about graduating from TSTC, is that she is leaving debt free because of a collection of scholarships she received in high school, financial aid and non-traditional students scholarships from TSTC and other welding industry organizations.

Her advice for other students, “Always put yourself out there. Apply for scholarships, you just never know. This is a possibility for everyone,” she said.

She also wants other girls and women to know that there is no need to feel intimidated about entering into a male-dominated career.

“Don’t be scared. If you have a passion for something and you want to do it, do it,” Kuta said.

“We can do the job just as good, if not better, than the men. Let’s show them what we got.”

So what’s in Kuta’s future?

She has already begun the job application process. She has interviewed with several oil field companies such as National Oilwell, Conroe and Baker Hughes.

“The oilfield is where the jobs are at and I can’t wait to get started,” she said.

Kuta also hopes to become a Certified Welding Inspector and a Certified Welding Instructor in the coming years.

For more information on Welding Technology, visit tstc.edu/programs/WeldingTechnology.

TSTC in West Texas Holds Fall 2018 Commencement

(ABILENE) – More than 140 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2018 Commencement held Monday, Dec. 10, at the Abilene Convention Center. Graduates from TSTC’s four West Texas campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater were recognized.

For Ronnie Pitts, an instructor and statewide department head in the Emergency Medical Services program at Abilene, watching his students achieve their educational goals does not get tiring. It was especially significant when one student bestowed upon him an honorary Phi Theta Kappa stole as a thank-you.

“This is the event that makes everything we do as instructors worthwhile,” Pitts said. “Being able to watch our students succeed is what we live for. But, to be given this honor on top of it all is a special recognition that I greatly appreciate.”

 

Students could be found thanking their instructors and excitedly talking about having accepted job offers.

Chris Russell, an Army veteran and member of Phi Theta Kappa, received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Environmental Technology Compliance. He started working full time last Monday at Clean Harbors.

“I worked in the oil field after the Army and saw that there was a way to make good money while staying clean and dry,” Russell said. “So now I get to do what I enjoy and be comfortable.”

During the commencement ceremony, Julian Alvarez III, the commissioner representing labor with the Texas Workforce Commission, encouraged students to be humble in their success and spend time with successful people.

“You will face careers, not jobs, the rest of your life,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez is a first-generation college graduate. He said that, just like TSTC did for him when he was a student, the graduates have received the tools needed to think for themselves.

“You are ready to meet those challenges you will face in the workplace,” Alvarez said.

Many of Monday’s graduates were inspired and led to success by family members.

Mary Mares of Brownwood, who earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing from Sweetwater, said it was her son who inspired her to pursue her degree.

“My son was born with craniosynostosis, and it was his birth that motivated me to get this degree so I can help him and others to the best of my ability,” Mares said.

Phillip Cruz of Sweetwater received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology. He said his 6-year-old daughter was his inspiration for pursuing his studies.

“It’s a second career,” Cruz said. “I used to be a police officer. The country is changing to green energy. I figured I would help the country move forward.”

Cruz is considering job offers at energy companies in Michigan and Texas.

Earlier in the day, the Nursing programs held pinning ceremonies for graduates in Abilene and Sweetwater.

For more information, log on to tstc.edu.

 

TSTC hosts an out-of-this-world experience for the community

(HARLINGEN) – Katlyn Nuncio mixed baking soda, salt and water to watch her rocket launch during “Journey to Mars,” a first-of-its-kind event hosted by the Texas State Technical College Challenger Learning Center.

“It was so cool watching how the mixture reacted and how high my rocket went,” said the 9-year-old fourth grader from Ed Downs Elementary School in San Benito. “The event was great. I love science and I hope to become an engineer when I grow up.”

The half-day event, which was free and open to the public, was attended by more than 200 people.

TSTC Journey to Mars

It was organized in partnership with NASA to celebrate the center’s 5th and NASA’s 6th anniversaries.

“We’re are so excited with the response we received from the school districts and community,” said Yvette Mendoza, TSTC College Readiness coordinator. “The number of families who attended this event surpassed all of our expectations. This event was a definite success.”

The event included hands-on activities for all ages from space crafting and gravity affects to Mars rover building and Mars habitat creating.

Every booth was divided into phases, and resembled a space mission set up. Planetarium shows were also available throughout the morning.

For 11-year-old Aiden Barrera from San Benito, “Journey to Mars” was a great way to celebrate his birthday.

“I’m into science and engineering, but my favorite subject is math so this event was so much fun for me,” said Barrera. “It was a great way to spend my birthday weekend.”

The fifth grader said he had the most fun creating a home for a Mars extraterrestrial creature using paper plates, paper cups, paint and glue.

TSTC Journey to Mars“This was truly a team effort. We really wanted this event to introduce children of all ages, from toddler to high school, to the science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) fields,” said Mendoza. “It’s important to plant the seed at a young age, especially because STEM is a huge priority for our school districts and our state.”

“Journey to Mars” was a result of a signed NASA Cooperative Agreement that was introduced to the TSTC Challenger Learning Center by the National Challenger Center.

Through this agreement, TSTC’s center will receive upgraded hardware and software to add new missions to its lineup.

“Our goal with this is to be able to offer new, educational and exciting opportunities for the students who visit us,” said Mendoza. “All that matters is that they are learning while having fun.”

Under this cooperative, Mendoza said the TSTC Challenger Learning Center introduced its new mission “Expedition to Mars” this year and will introduce “Lunar Quest” in 2019 and “Operation Comet in 2020.”

Mendoza also said the community can expect to see more free, community events that provide educational opportunities in the near future.

For more information on TSTC’s Challenger Learning Center or to book a mission, call 956-364-4517.

TSTC online classes help local man pursue a career change

(HARLINGEN) – At a crossroads in his life, Robert Ahrens decided to enroll at Texas State Technical College, opting for an online program so he could continue supporting his family.

“With a family it’s not all about me,” said the 37-year-old. “I still need to make a decent paycheck, so online classes have been the most convenient for me.”

The La Feria native is enrolled in Business Management Technology, one of four programs with degrees that are offered entirely online.

The other TSTC programs with online degree tracks are Digital Media Design, Architectural Design & Engineering Graphics and Health Information Technology. These are among the many other hybrid programs available, which offer lectures and labs both on campus and online.

“With these programs there really is no excuse for not going to school anymore,” said Ahrens. “What matters is the discipline and hard work you’re willing to put in. It’s so flexible anyone can do it.”Robert Ahrens TSTC online student

A retired police officer of nearly a decade, and now a full-time truck driver with Spirit Truck Lines in Pharr, Ahrens said he has exceeded his own expectations.

Ahrens, who expects to earn his associate degree in Summer 2020, boasts a 3.9 grade-point average, is on the dean’s list and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society in 2016 for his high marks.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s been a challenge,” said Ahrens. “I’m traveling out in the middle of nowhere and finding internet isn’t always easy, but I manage. It’s possible.”

Ahrens is also a recipient of the Lozano Long Promise Opportunity Scholarship, Shell National Merit Scholarship and Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (T-STEM) grant.

“Just because I’m in school doesn’t mean the bills stop and I found myself in a bind,” he said. “But TSTC has helped me fund my education. It has been a tremendous help and motivation to keep going.”

The full-time worker and full-time student said he’s only home 34 hours a week, the rest of his time is spent transporting goods across the country, finding hotspots or truck stops with internet. He also said even his laptop has seen better days, but he’s not letting anything stop him.

“All the technology of today makes it easy to navigate TSTC’s online programs, communicating with instructors and keeping in contact with my family,” he said. “I know someday all this  sacrifice will be worth it.”

TSTC Campus Lead for Business Management Technology Edna Claus said Ahrens has done exceptionally well despite the fact he is on the road most of the time and cannot depend on constant or reliable access to his courses.

“Robert has done well. His persistence is one that can be modeled by all of our students,” she said.

Ahrens is registered and ready to begin his Spring 2019 semester.

“TSTC has made me a well-rounded student and I know whether I stay at Spirit or end up somewhere else I will find success,” he said.

For more information about online programs at TSTC, visit tstc.edu/tstconline.

 

Student Success Profile – Jennifer Atkinson

(HARLINGEN) – Jennifer Atkinson is an Agricultural Technology major at Texas State Technical College and boasts a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.Jennifer Atkinson

The Rio Hondo native expects to earn her associate degree in Spring 2019, and when the 23-year-old is not in the classroom or out in the field she is busying doing community service with the TSTC Agriculture Club.

What are your plans after you graduate?

After I graduate I plan on transferring to Texas A&M Kingsville to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science with a teaching certificate.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to have a successful career in agriculture with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment so far has been making it on the Chancellor’s List and maintaining my honor roll worthy grades. I never used to be an “A” student so this has helped motivate to continue and appreciate school even more.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned in life is that everything happens for a reason and in God’s perfect timing.

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

All of my instructors and my classmates have had a great influence on my success. First, my instructors have been a blessing. They genuinely care about us, are easy to talk to and take every step necessary to ensure we succeed. Last but not least, my classmates. They have become lifelong friends and an extension of my family.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to work hard because nothing in life is handed to us on a silver platter.

 

TSTC in Marshall Holds Fall 2018 Commencement

(MARSHALL) – More than 60 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College in Marshall’s Fall 2018 Commencement held Friday, Dec. 7, at the Marshall Convention Center.

Students from different backgrounds and all walks of life gathered to celebrate their accomplishments with family and loved ones. Associate Provost Nathan Cleveland always takes a minute to appreciate the success of his students.

“This is why I got involved in education,” Cleveland said. “To watch our students, who range from the first member in a family to attend a postsecondary education institute to a second- or third-generation student, succeed, inspire others and thank their support systems — it’s what it’s all about.”

Several of Friday’s graduates boasted academic honors, including five Board of Regents recipients. Board of Regents recipients must complete their degree program with a 4.0 GPA.

Tyra Levine of Beaumont was displaced after Hurricane Harvey destroyed her home. She relocated to Marshall to live near her family and decided to complete her education. Working two jobs to support her family while battling health issues, Levine still maintained a 4.0 GPA to graduate with her Associate of Applied Science degree in Process Operations.   

“I just made sure I was at class every day and I was in contact with my teachers whenever I needed help or had questions,” Levine said. “My whole experience really has been a testimony, and I am so thankful to be here.”

Several graduates are leaving with jobs already lined up, while others are still considering their options.

Zachary Garner of Forney was a Phi Theta Kappa graduate who received his third degree from TSTC. Garner earned associate degrees in Cyber Security and Network Administration, then changed course to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology.

“It took me a minute to figure out what I wanted. But I love working with my hands, and I’m really excited with my options,” Garner said. “I’ve interviewed with a couple companies in the area, and things are looking good.”

The evening was two times as special for the parents of brothers Calvin and Quenton Rowe. The brothers both earned certificates of completion in Structural Welding.

“It was awesome to see them accomplish these goals they set for themselves and their focus to get it done,” Latarsha Rowe, mom, said. “I am just immensely proud.”

For Shaquilyn Peoples, a Precision Machining Technology graduate, today was the validation she had been working toward.

“As a girl in PMT, it can be intimidating, but it feels so good to say I did it and that I get to do something different,” Peoples said. “I hope I can encourage other girls to get involved.

This was the 69th commencement ceremony for TSTC in Marshall.

For more information, log on to tstc.edu.

 

TSTC in Waco Holds Fall Commencement

(WACO) – More than 350 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2018 Commencement held Friday, Dec. 7, at the Waco Convention Center.

TSTC Provost Adam Hutchison started the ceremony with a moment of silence for Curt Persilver, former coordinator of student services, who died in October.

Many of the graduates already have jobs.

Jansice Baesler-Ridge, 21, of Waco graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Visual Communication Technology. She began working this summer as a designer at American Domino Co. in Lacy Lakeview.

“I’ve always loved art, and I have wanted to do art that is applicable,” Baesler-Ridge said. “Visual communication technology is the art of the future.”

Garrett Selby, 19, of Pleasanton graduated with an associate degree in the Diesel Equipment Technology program. He already has a job at Kirby-Smith Machinery in Abilene.

“It feels pretty nice,” he said.

Selby said he will miss the instructors giving their knowledge and the camaraderie with his classmates.

Some of the graduates will continue job hunting.

Cory Hoover, 23, of Burnet was the only graduate in Waco receiving an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electronic Communication Technology. He wants to look in the Austin area for a job.

“I enjoyed my time here and made a lot of good friends,” Hoover said. “I was able to have a close relationship with all the instructors because of the small classes.”

Anderson Merchant, 27, of Bryan received an associate degree and certificate from the Auto Collision and Management Technology program. He said he enjoyed learning about the painting and airbrushing processes during his studies.

“I’m really excited and nervous — and really curious what I will do after I graduate,” Merchant said. “It’s exciting to see my hard work recognized and translate that into true work skills.”

TSTC has more than 900 students graduating this fall across the state.

For more information, log on to tstc.edu.

 

TSTC in Williamson County Holds Fall Commencement

(HUTTO) – Fifty graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2018 Commencement held Friday, Dec. 7, at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center in Hutto.

Former Texas Rep. Larry Gonzales was the guest speaker and talked about the graduates’ decision to pursue a technical education and their importance to the Texas economy.

Many of the graduates already have jobs.

Stuart G. McLennan IV, 38, of Georgetown received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cyber Security and began work earlier this year as a TSTC instructor. Although still a student,  McLennan taught some of the same cyber security classes he had already taken.

“It will be nice to be done with the student side and done with exams and instead give them,” he said.

McLennan earned a bachelor’s degree in computer programming several years ago but had difficulty finding work in the Killeen area. He decided to go back to college to expand his knowledge.

“I have always been interested in the computer area,” he said.

Some graduates are continuing their job search.

Joseph Hartman, 20, of Jarrell received a certificate in Cyber Security. He said he was inspired to study the field after doing research while a student at Jarrell High School, where he graduated in 2017.

“Coming here was a lot cheaper than going to a big university,” he said.

His future plans are to pursue an associate degree, earn industry certifications and look for jobs in the Austin area.

“I really want to start making money,” he said.

TSTC has more than 900 students graduating this fall across the state.

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

TSTC provides grad with second chance at a career

(FORT BEND) – With a bachelor’s degree, but ready for a career change and a new challenge, 58-year-old Joel Staner enrolled in Diesel Equipment Technology-Heavy Truck Specialization at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County two years ago.

And on Monday, Staner will graduate with an associate degree and as a Board of Regent honors graduate with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.

“TSTC has been such a great experience for me,” said Staner. “I was a little intimidated coming back to school at my age, but I think that also gave me an advantage because I knew the kind of dedication and commitment it would take to successfully finish.”

Staner said when he first received his bachelor’s degree in psychology and general business in 1993 he was young and only took this path because it was the only opportunity available to him at the time.

“I never used my degree,” said the Sheridan native. “I took advantage of the educational opportunity, but these fields were never truly my passion.”

Leading up to his time at TSTC, Staner worked as a car salesman, a hardware customer service and sales specialist and as a general manager for an animal rescue shelter in his hometown.Joel Staner TSTC Grad

For the man who owns acreage with horses, chickens and at least a dozen dogs and cats, the animal shelter gig was his favorite.

“For the last nine years I have worked at an animal shelter and it’s been the greatest,” said Staner. “But I needed a change, a career of my own; one that I was passionate about.”

With the exception of minor repair and maintenance on heavy farm equipment such as tractors, the diesel equipment field was new to Staner.

“After touring the campus and visiting with advisors, Diesel Equipment Technology seemed like the best fit for me,” said Staner. “And honestly the hands-on approach TSTC takes in its teaching is what got me.”

Staner said what made all of the difference during his time at TSTC was the genuine care faculty has for their students and their willingness to answer questions and ensure that students understand the material.

He credits not only his hard work, but also the faculty for his success because not only was he inducted into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society for his grades, but he accepted a job offer and started his career before earning his degree.

“This college offers its students so many opportunities to network with industry recruiters and professionals,” said Staner. “It was during one of these events that I was offered a job.”

Staner is now a diesel technician with Travel Centers of America, where he has been working full-time since May.

“The pay is great, the benefits are excellent and they worked with my school schedule,” said Staner. “Going to school and working full-time has been no easy feat.”

Unfortunately, for Staner, he will be traveling to Ohio for job training on the day of TSTC in Fort Bend County’s commencement, so he will be unable to walk the stage in his cap and gown.

“Sure, I’ll miss the commencement experience, but it’s worth it,” he said. “This is the career that will sustain me for the next 15 years or so. So I’m excited to be done and focusing on a new career.”

Staner also said there may be management opportunities with Travel Centers of America in the future, so just maybe he’ll get to use his general business degree after all.

“I changed directions in my life and TSTC was the vehicle that enabled me to change careers,” said Staner.

Staner is one of close to 1,000 TSTC students earning a certificate or associate degree statewide and will join an alumni network of more than 100,000 TSTC graduates.

TSTC in Fort Bend County will host its commencement ceremony on Monday, December 10 at the Stafford Centre in Stafford, Texas at 6 p.m.

For more information on Diesel Equipment Technology, visit tstc.edu/programs/DieselEquipmentTechnology.