(ABILENE) – Shawn Ogden of Clyde wants to continue working in the aircraft industry after discovering the career as a mechanic in the U.S. Air Force.
But, he knew after leaving the military he was missing some of the certifications needed to professionally maintain aircraft.
“Going to college after being in the military can be intimidating and challenging, but it is absolutely worth the effort,” said Ogden, 43, a student at Texas State Technical College in Abilene. “The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is extremely helpful when it comes to making sure you have everything you need to complete your education.”
Guiding Ogden through his time at TSTC is Veteran Services, which works with students who were in the military or are current active-duty members, along with their spouses and dependents.
“In the military, in order to make rank and be successful, we have to have education in our background,” said Annette Collins, veteran programs officer at TSTC’s West Texas campuses.
Some of the popular programs that members of Veteran Services like to pursue include Computer Networking and Systems Administration in Abilene and Brownwood, and Nursing and Vocational Nursing in Brownwood, Breckenridge and Sweetwater.
Ogden is part of the TSTC FAST Trac Airframe and Powerplant Program in Abilene that allows active-duty military members and veterans to study in an accelerated 13-week program focused on Federal Aviation Administration curricula. Classes are taught in hangar space at Abilene Regional Airport.
“There are a lot of veterans that come out and have worked on jets and airplanes the whole time in service but they don’t have the FAA airframe and powerplant license,” said Julia Humphrey, director of career services for TSTC’s West Texas campuses. “The program is geared for them to get the license and go to work.”
Ogden said he has felt at home at TSTC and knows he will be competitive and ready for job searching once he completes academic work in December.
“TSTC offers a complete package with hands-on training, which I have never had access to before,” he said.
Veteran Services also brings people together who share experiences no matter what military branch they are affiliated with.
Veterans, their spouses and dependents can work with TSTC’s Career Services and Talent Management staff on career readiness, resume writing, networking and interview skills. The technical college also has hireTSTC, an online resource for students to connect with companies that have job openings tailored to certificate and associate degree programs.
“I like TSTC because of the way they take care of their students,” said Collins, a 24-year U.S. Air Force veteran. “The staff is willing to go above and beyond to help the students get the education they need.”
A lot of TSTC’s student recruitment is focused on Dyess Air Force Base, which has more than 5,000 active-duty and U.S. Department of Defense civilian employees and an economic impact of more than $441 million, according to the Abilene Industrial Foundation. The military installation is also the largest employer in Taylor County.
“A lot of the active-duty personnel ask about their benefits and if their spouses can use the benefits,” Collins said. “Yes, they can.”
TSTC will have Registration Rally events for the fall semester on Aug. 2 in Sweetwater, Aug. 3 in Breckenridge, Aug. 8 in Brownwood and Aug. 11 in Abilene.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.
The 2014 graduate was hired last month as head chef for the soon-to-open restaurant and has been busy readying operations since.
“It’s slightly chaotic right now,” Duttry said. “I’ve been working on writing the menu, getting recipe books set up, making sure that everything is delivered properly — we’re still getting equipment coming over from Europe, and I’ve put up a few ads for hiring here in San Antonio. We’re just running straight forward trying to get everything set up.”
But success didn’t come easy for the chef. Duttry says hard work was what got him where he is today.
“I’ve been working two jobs for the last six years or so,” he said. “I always thought I could get more experience working two jobs rather than one. While going through school I probably cooked more than I slept. I was working almost 100 hours a week.”
Culinary instructor Kayleen Moon said Travis definitely showed initiative.
“He commuted for class and had better attendance than those who lived in town,” she laughed. “I’m so impressed that he got a job as a head chef with a certificate. He asked a lot of questions in class and cross-trained outside of school. It screams potential.”
Duttry, a Brownwood resident, chose TSTC for its proximity to home and traveled to school in Abilene.
“TSTC was the closest school to me, and I didn’t want to owe a lot of money when I graduated,” Duttry said.
He enjoyed his experience at TSTC.
“Chef Kayleen Moon was awesome. She was very informative,” Duttry said. “I always felt like I learned as much in school as I learned out of school. There are certain things I learned there that I would have never learned in a small town, like the classic mother sauces and steak au poivre. Stuff like that I never would have learned in a small town, but I got to learn those skills there, use those in the professional world and build on what I learned in school.”
Duttry enjoys cooking what he likes to eat.
“Anything that’s Italian; Mexican food, and I don’t mean Tex-Mex, but traditional Mexican food; upscale bar food; and classic comfort food — that’s what I like to cook.”
Set to open Friday, the downtown San Antonio location will be the second store for La Panadería and will be located at 301 E. Houston St.
Duttry recommends that culinary arts students and aspiring chefs get as much experience as they can.
“Do your best in school and outside of school,” he said. “Try to find a nicer restaurant to work in so you can implement what you learned in school. The things you learn at work and in school, they’re going to build off of each other. And you make money while you’re doing it!”
TSTC is registering now for the fall semester. For more information on TSTC’s Culinary Arts program, visit tstc.edu.
(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College officials and community leaders broke ground on the college’s newest venture in Abilene on Thursday, April 20. The ceremony, held at 1717 Navajo Trail, marked the start of construction on a 56,000-square-foot Industrial Technology Center that will be the first of a multibuilding campus.
The college is excited for the opportunity to better serve the community with access to advanced technical education that can lead to great career opportunities.
“Our campus expansion in Abilene will support industry growth and expand the city’s economy while reducing the ever-widening midlevel skills gap,” said Rick Denbow, senior field development officer at TSTC. “This groundbreaking marks a new era for TSTC in Abilene and in West Texas.”
The Development Corporation of Abilene, Dodge Jones Foundation, Dian Graves Owen Foundation, Shelton Family Foundation, City of Abilene and community leaders have invested $6 million toward the project, which will allow TSTC to add programs in Industrial Maintenance, Welding, and Electrical Power & Controls and will house its growing Emergency Medical Services program.
“These programs were chosen from analyzing data from the Rick Perryman study where we looked at economic growth across the state and what the needs were in those particular areas,” said TSTC Executive Vice Chancellor and COO Elton Stuckly Jr. “We also did some research of our own and selected the programs based on the needs of the community and this region.”
Abilene Mayor Norm Archibald, a longtime supporter of TSTC, was quick to jump on the opportunity for a new TSTC.
“Who are the winners in all of this?” Archibald asked the crowd at the event. “First of all, construction jobs will be made. People that live in our community will be out here working. That’s good. Students will come to this campus and learn skills and go out and get a job that they can be proud of. They’re one of the winners. The workforce helps bring in businesses that think, ‘I’m thinking of coming to Abilene. Do you have the workers I need to make this business work?’ The answer will be yes.”
The Development Corporation of Abilene (DCOA) was among the first to invest in the new campus.
“The DCOA went through an extensive strategic planning process and identified 10 goals we want to focus on,” DCOA Chairman Dave Copeland said. “One of those goals was to build a more highly skilled workforce. Another was to support our existing businesses’ growth and prosperity. The businesses in this town are closely linked to the workforce. We feel that this new facility takes us a long way toward those goals.”
Stuckly stressed the importance of building relationships.
“TSTC is known for providing a skilled workforce for Texas, but of course everything you do takes money,” he said. “Without the support of the county, the city, the DCOA, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Denbow shared the same sentiments.
“TSTC has a reputation of doing great things,” said Denbow, “Growing businesses, growing the economy, transforming lives — but we can’t do any of that without you.”
The new building is expected to open in the summer of 2018. For more information on Texas State Technical College and the programs currently offered, visit tstc.edu.
(ABILENE) – Sweetwater native Marc Silvas went off to Texas Tech University to study to be a pharmacist but soon realized he was on the wrong career track.
“I wasn’t enjoying it and I couldn’t see myself being a pharmacist for the rest of my life,” said Silvas. “So I found myself back at home and working at my family’s restaurant thinking about my life and doing some soul searching.”
The 27-year-old’s family owns a Tex-Mex restaurant in Sweetwater called Casa Morales. It was originally opened by his grandfather in 1980 in Rotan, Texas. After retirement his family moved the business to Sweetwater in 1990, where they have served the community since.
“I was in the kitchen cooking when I realized, ‘Why not pursue a career in the culinary world?’” said Silvas. “I’m a restaurant kid, I’ve done this my whole life and I’m good at it.”
Silvas said that was the best decision he had ever made. After completing program prerequisites and applying for the culinary program, he got accepted. He graduated from the TSTC Culinary Arts program with an associate degree in 2011.
“My time at TSTC was great and it prepared me and paved my way for the job I have now,” he said.
Silvas currently works with Texas Tech’s hospitality services as an Executive Chef for Top Tier Catering, the university’s in-house catering company.
“Getting this job was definitely a whirlwind of emotions for me because I received the offer before even receiving my degree,” Silvas said. “It all happened so fast, but it’s like I say, you get what you put into something. And I gave everything to be successful in the culinary program.”
The executive chef said the education and training he received at TSTC is invaluable. He said the real-world experience of running a lunch and dinner service as a class for the college and community was instrumental in his success.
“During this time we would all shift restaurant roles,” he said. “So one day I was cooking, the next bussing tables and the next working as wait staff. It’s important to learn every role and TSTC provided that experience.”
Silvas credits much of his success to two of his instructors Chef Sandy Davis and Chef Coby Baumann.
“They invested so much of their energy and time in me and my success,” said Silvas. “It means a lot to me that they cared about my development and always pushed me to do my best.”
Ultimately, Silvas said he would like to teach others and also help them find success in the culinary industry in addition to someday owning his own butcher shop.
In the meantime, Silvas is preparing for his Certified Pastry Chef exam in July. He already holds two additional certifications: Certified Executive Chef and Chef de Cuisine.
David Deason, Silvas’ supervisor and associate managing director of Hospitality at Texas Tech said he was impressed with Silvas the first time he met him.
“Marc is so young, but so talented in the kitchen,” Deason said. “He has worked side by side with some of the best trained chefs from f the biggest culinary institutes and he is respected by all. He definitely has a bright future and a home here with us as long as he wants to stay.”
Silvas said he wants current or future TSTC students to always find networking opportunities.
“Get involved in your community, no matter your major,” he said. “Sometimes it’s about who you meet and know that will give you your break. I know it definitely made a difference for me when I met my current boss at an event I was cooking for.”
For more information on TSTC Culinary Arts call 325-670-9240.
TSTC has partnered with Eagle Aviation to form a job pipeline, Aviation Maintenance instructor Brian Hahn explained. While in school students participate in Eagle Aviation’s apprenticeship program and, after graduating and earning their Airframe and Powerplant license, are hired on full time as mechanics.
“The company has a number of slots dedicated for full-time employees,” Hahn said. “And some of those slots are to hire specifically from TSTC. The track gets them in while they’re still in school so they can become familiar with the aircraft.”
The program began about 3 1/2 years ago, and the students complete the apprenticeship on their own time.
“There is no class requirement,” Hahn said. “They work 25 to 30 hours a week depending on their schedule, getting paid at a non-licensed mechanic rate. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to get that real-life, hands-on experience on aircraft that are actually flying passengers.”
Rania Rollin, who graduated from the Aviation Maintenance program in the summer of 2015, completed her apprenticeship and was hired as an aircraft technician. She said the apprenticeship was a great opportunity for her.
“It’s so hard to get into the aviation industry without having somewhere to put your foot,” Rollin said. “We worked with a certified mechanic and we would basically learn everything we needed to do. If we had to change fluids, we would change fluids. If we had to fix sheet metal, we would take it out and shoot rivets. Pretty much anything a normal mechanic would do, we got the opportunity to do it.”
Rollin spent a year in the program and was relieved to have a post-graduation plan.
“It felt secure,” she said. “It’s a small area out here in Abilene, so not having to move to a bigger city was nice. I have my husband and we have a kid, so it was nice knowing that I could help support them.”
Harley Hall, managing director at Eagle Aviation, said the company usually has five to seven TSTC apprentices going through the program at one time. The program helps Eagle Aviation with employee turnover.
“We’ve had a large attrition rate over the years,” Hall said. “People coming from out of state want to move to be closer to their families; we can’t keep them. This kind of ‘Home Grow ‘Em’ program helps because most of the TSTC students are from the Abilene area. Plus it gives them an avenue to know they have a job waiting for them at graduation.”
Hall said the rates of students becoming licensed and getting hired have been very high.
“Ninety to 100 percent of the students now are getting their A&P license and coming to work for us,” he said. “They’re definitely turning out to be some of our better workers.”
Rollin is grateful for her experience at Eagle Aviation.
“It’s a great learning experience,” she said. “The planes aren’t incredibly small, but not incredibly large either, so you have an opportunity to learn every part of the aircraft. I’ve learned a lot of different things.”
Eagle Aviation currently employs about 15 TSTC graduates as mechanics.
For more information on TSTC’s Aviation Maintenance programs, visit tstc.edu.
(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College in West Texas honored the recipients of this year’s Chancellor’s Excellence Award at a luncheon Friday in Abilene. Three West Texas employees were chosen as recipients.
This year’s award winners are Adam Harvey, lead application administrator at TSTC in Sweetwater; Griselda Sanchez, community standards liaison at TSTC in Sweetwater; and Andy Weaver, health science statewide division director at TSTC in Abilene.
The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001, and over the past 15 years 270 TSTC employees have received the honor. Recipients are chosen based on outstanding contributions and achievements, commitment to excellence, and character. Honorees serve as agents of change in the advancement of TSTC initiatives.
Hendrick has donated $2,500 to TSTC’s Make a Texas-Sized Difference Campaign, helping to offer the Texan Success Scholarship to new students in the program. The funds allow TSTC to give students $500 scholarships to be used toward equipment they will need in the program. The TSTC Foundation matches donated funds for this campaign, so the Digital Media Design department will have $5,000 in scholarships to award.
Christina Hollis, division director of Computer Information Systems and Design at TSTC, said the scholarships will help students get a head start.
“Not all students have the funds to purchase a laptop at the beginning of our program,” Hollis said. “These funds will help those students hit the ground running the first day of class with the technology they need to be successful.”
A longstanding partnership, TSTC’s Digital Media Design and Culinary Arts departments helped with Hendrick’s annual Cancer Survivorship Program event, the Survivorship Culinary Showdown.
“The Digital Media students created the event’s intro video,” Hollis said. “We also created the postcard sent for the event and the program, did photography and hosted a live feed of the event.”
Norm Archibald, vice president of development at the Hendrick Medical Center Foundation, said Hendrick was proud to partner with TSTC and the Digital Media Design department.
“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the young talent in our community, and we’re excited to have a hand in helping students reach their educational goals,” Archibald said.
TSTC is registering through Aug. 22 for the fall semester. Visit www.tstc.edu for more information.
(ABILENE) – Twenty-two pieces of art by Texas State Technical College’s Digital Arts and Digital Media Design students will be displayed in an exhibition called “Building the Future” through the end of July.
The exhibition, located at the Cockerell – Upstairs gallery at 1133 N. Second St., features pieces from video to photography and digital painting.
TSTC Instructor Amelia Carnagey said the show gives students an opportunity to get their name out to the community.
“Abilene is a very college-oriented and art-oriented city,” Carnagey said. “With the exhibition, we wanted to instill in our students a desire to get out into the community. We not only show them that they are artists, but we also help to introduce them to the community in a professional light.”
Students from the program submitted their work to be considered, and TSTC faculty chose the best to be featured. First place was awarded to Digital Arts student Amber Hernandez for her piece “Fly Fishing.” In second place was Digital Media Design student Alejandro Salcido with “Girl in Endless Field,” and in third place was Digital Arts student Hannah Elliot with “Before Ballet Class.”
The works of art will be on view at the Cockerell – Upstairs gallery through July 30. Each piece is available for purchase through the artist.
For more information on the Digital Media Design program, visit www.tstc.edu or call 325-672-7091.