Category Archives: Abilene

TSTC Instructors Raise Awareness of Educational Opportunities for Children in Foster Care

(ABILENE, Texas) – Young adults who have been in foster care in the state of Texas can go to college for free.
Two Texas State Technical College instructors of Industrial Maintenance, Daniel Diaz and Demetri Jones, are making it their mission to let foster youth know about this opportunity.
The two instructors and their wives are foster parents themselves.
Diaz and Jones are raising awareness of the State College Tuition Waiver available to foster youth currently or formerly under the conservatorship of the Texas Department of Family and
Protective Services (DFPS) and for those adopted from DFPS.
The State College Tuition Waiver exempts or waives payment of tuition and fees at state-supported colleges and universities.
In Texas there are more than 30,000 children in foster care, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Many of these children are eligible for a tuition-free college education.
“It’s important to share this information because we see a lot of kids who age out of foster care that didn’t get the buildup that they should have to know they can go to college. (The waiver) is an option, a free option, for them,” Diaz said.
Diaz was adopted by his grandparents as a child. Now he and his wife, along with their four children, have opened their home to foster children.
“We felt called to serve through fostering, and when we learned of this opportunity for these kids, we had to share it,” Diaz said. “We want these kids to know that a technical college is a perfect avenue if the traditional college route isn’t what they want.”
As he and his wife entered the foster care process, Diaz began teaching at TSTC and met fellow instructor Jones, who has adopted two of his three children through foster care and is currently fostering.
“We found out about (the waiver) for our kids, and we want others to know,” Jones said. “My kids were raised around a technical college and have seen the success that I had because of it, and I want that for others.”
Diaz and Jones are both TSTC Industrial Maintenance alumni.
“These (foster) kids all come from different backgrounds, and some have been through some bad things, but they deserve the opportunity to succeed,” Jones said.
For potential students to take advantage of the tuition-free education, they must be enrolled in a state-supported college or university before their 25th birthday.
Foster youth and foster parents are urged to call512-438-5442 to learn more about the State College Tuition Waiver and eligibility requirements.  Or, for more information on TSTC programs, go online at tstc.edu.
From left to right, Daniel Diaz and Demetri Jones are instructors at TSTC in Abilene Industrial Maintenance Technology program. The instructors are raising awareness of education opportunities for young adults formerly in foster care.

Two Employees at TSTC in Abilene Recognized for Outstanding Service

(Abilene) – Two employees at Texas State Technical College in Abilene have been honored for their dedication and service.

Matt Briggs, the clinical coordinator for the Emergency Medical Services program, and Susan Cowart, an instructor for academic English and Humanities, were selected to receive TSTC’s Chancellor’s Excellence Awards.

“The Chancellor’s Excellence Award is a yearly recognition for teammates who consistently go above and beyond their normal job duties to improve our students’, and/or our College’s, success. Matt and Susan display, on a daily basis, these lofty attributes,” Rick Denbow, provost at TSTC in West Texas, said.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001 and has been given to more than 300 TSTC employees statewide. Recipients are nominated by their peers for their work toward advancing the technical college’s mission.

“The teammates who win this award model excellence for us all and are recognized for both their sound character and for advancing TSTC’s new direction,” TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser said. “Due to their caring and dedicated efforts, TSTC continues to make a difference in the employment success of our students.”

Briggs joined TSTC in 2015 and said he was shocked by the recognition. He says he is determined to find out who nominated him so he can say thank you.

“It’s just such an awesome honor because there are so many people who are doing their job really well, and to be recognized as one of those people makes me want to keep going and do even better,” he said.

Briggs said TSTC has become part of his family and he loves working with people who have the same passion as he has.

“My favorite part of this job is watching our students walk across that stage and graduate because you know they are about to make a positive impact on the world,” he said.

After working as a paramedic for nine years, Briggs felt called to enter the education world and help people in a new way. He hopes to help expand the EMS program at TSTC and spread awareness of the need for more EMS professionals.

Cowart was also surprised to learn she was a recipient of the Chancellor’s Excellence Award.

“I was in a state of shock because I haven’t been here very long, but it felt so validating,” she said.

Cowart began teaching English and Humanities classes at TSTC in 2015. She teaches both online and in-person classes.

“Education is so powerful. And if I can help these students become good communicators, that opens so many doors on top of their technical skills,” she said.

Cowart earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Louisiana State University at Alexandria and her first master’s in English from DePaul University. She decided to pursue a second master’s in Education Technology and Instructional Design from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to better serve her students. She completed the degree while continuing to teach her regular course load.

“I am so glad I am at TSTC in West Texas because there is a definite sense of family and support here. It just makes you want to do your best,” Cowart said.

Briggs and Cowart will join 33 other TSTC employees statewide who will be honored at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Excellence Awards Dinner and Celebration in May in Austin.

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

Two Employees at TSTC in Abilene Recognized for Outstanding Service

Matt Briggs, picture above, from Texas State Technical College in Abilene, is the Clinical Coordinator for the Emergency Medical Services program. He was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award.

Two Employees at TSTC in Abilene Recognized for Outstanding Service

Susan Cowart, pictured above, from Texas State Technical College in Abilene, teaches academic English and Humanities. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award.

TSTC Holds Spring 2019 Commencement

(ABILENE, Texas) – More than 100 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Spring 2019 Commencement held Friday, April 26, at the Abilene Convention Center. Graduates from TSTC’s West Texas campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater were recognized.

For Mary Madden, an instructor in Electromechanical Technology at TSTC in Sweetwater, this was what she looks forward to each semester.

“It’s a time for the students to celebrate their accomplishments and the families to see what they have worked so hard for,” Madden said. “They’re starting a new life, a new career, and it’s exciting.”

One of Madden’s students who also was a teaching assistant, Gary Miller from Sweetwater, walked the stage on Friday.

“I’m proud of him because he not only succeeded in the program, but he helped motivate others to succeed as well,” Madden said.

Miller, an Army veteran, graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electromechanical Technology. He graduated with highest honors, was awarded the Outstanding Student Award, and has already accepted a job with M&S Engineering.

“I worked in construction before coming to TSTC, and this was a way to move up in life,” he said. “It’s never too late to come back. Just don’t give up, and keep pushing through.”

Several other students could be found thanking their instructors and excitedly talking about having accepted job offers.

Shawn Baldauf, from Abilene, graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration and has already started working for Batts Communications Inc. After serving in the military, Baldauf decided to come to TSTC for the flexibility and hands-on learning.

“I really love computers. I think they are awesome, so I’m very happy to have a career in something I love,” Baldauf said.

Baldauf is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society and a recipient of TSTC’s Program Excellence Award.

During the ceremony, Mike Reeser, TSTC’s chancellor and CEO, encouraged the graduates never to stop learning and always to have integrity.

“Technology is constantly changing, so keep learning. But honesty and integrity are two things that have not changed, so remain constant in those,” Reeser said.

Chemical Dependency Counseling graduate Roderick Mayfield, from Breckenridge, felt those two ideals were extremely important to remember in his chosen career path. Mayfield earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in CDC so he can help others overcome substance abuse.

“I want to make a change in someone else’s life that was not made for me. I know addiction firsthand and am in my third year of recovery,” he said. “Instead of saying how you want the world to change, why not take those steps to make a change?”

Mayfield also was awarded a TSTC Program Excellence Award.

Many of Friday’s graduates had family members and loved ones in the audience, but one graduate even had his boss present.

Victor Taylor, of Brownwood, earned his Associate of Applied Science degree in Emergency Medical Services with a specialization in Paramedic Services. Taylor is working for Lifeguard Ambulance Service in Brown County, and his boss was there to cheer him on.

“I think TSTC is one of the best schools out there in this field because of the high standard they hold themselves to,” Taylor said. “I’m working already, if that says anything.”  

Taylor also was a recipient of a Program Excellence Award.

Earlier in the day, the Nursing programs held pinning ceremonies for graduates in Abilene and Sweetwater. Best friends Amanda Griswold and Sherri Whitefield celebrated earning their associate degrees in Nursing with “Finding Nemo”-themed graduation caps.

“She’s my exit buddy, so we’re finishing together,” Griswold said.

The students who graduated Friday join an alumni network of 100,000 strong across Texas.

For more information, go to www.tstc.edu.

TSTC Holds Spring 2019 Commencement

More than a 100 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Spring 2019 Commencement. 

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Two Employees at TSTC Recognized for Outstanding Service

(Abilene) – Two employees at Texas State Technical College in Abilene have been honored for their dedication and service.

Matt Briggs, the clinical coordinator for the Emergency Medical Services program, and Susan Cowart, an instructor for academic English and Humanities, were selected to receive TSTC’s Chancellor’s Excellence Awards.

“The Chancellor’s Excellence Award is a yearly recognition for teammates who consistently go above and beyond their normal job duties to improve our students’, and/or our College’s, success. Matt and Susan display, on a daily basis, these lofty attributes,” Rick Denbow, provost at TSTC in West Texas, said.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001 and has been given to more than 300 TSTC employees statewide. Recipients are nominated by their peers for their work toward advancing the technical college’s mission.

“The teammates who win this award model excellence for us all and are recognized for both their sound character and for advancing TSTC’s new direction,” TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser said. “Due to their caring and dedicated efforts, TSTC continues to make a difference in the employment success of our students.”

Briggs joined TSTC in 2015 and said he was shocked by the recognition. He says he is determined to find out who nominated him so he can say thank you.

“It’s just such an awesome honor because there are so many people who are doing their job really well, and to be recognized as one of those people makes me want to keep going and do even better,” he said.

Briggs said TSTC has become part of his family and he loves working with people who have the same passion as he has.

“My favorite part of this job is watching our students walk across that stage and graduate because you know they are about to make a positive impact on the world,” he said.

After working as a paramedic for nine years, Briggs felt called to enter the education world and help people in a new way. He hopes to help expand the EMS program at TSTC and spread awareness of the need for more EMS professionals.

Cowart was also surprised to learn she was a recipient of the Chancellor’s Excellence Award.

“I was in a state of shock because I haven’t been here very long, but it felt so validating,” she said.

Cowart began teaching English and Humanities classes at TSTC in 2015. She teaches both online and in-person classes.

“Education is so powerful. And if I can help these students become good communicators, that opens so many doors on top of their technical skills,” she said.

Cowart earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Louisiana State University at Alexandria and her first master’s in English from DePaul University. She decided to pursue a second master’s in Education Technology and Instructional Design from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to better serve her students. She completed the degree while continuing to teach her regular course load.

“I am so glad I am at TSTC in West Texas because there is a definite sense of family and support here. It just makes you want to do your best,” Cowart said.

Briggs and Cowart will join 33 other TSTC employees statewide who will be honored at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Excellence Awards Dinner and Celebration in May in Austin.

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

Matt Briggs, from Texas State Technical College in Abilene, is the Clinical Coordinator for the Emergency Medical Services program. He was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 
Two Employees at TSTC Recognized for Outstanding Service
Susan Cowart, from Texas State Technical College in Abilene, teaches academic English and Humanities. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 

More Than 50 Companies Represented at TSTC Industry Job Fair

(SWEETWATER) – More than 180 Texas State Technical College students and alumni attended the TSTC Industry Job Fair in Sweetwater on Tuesday, April 2. They had the opportunity to meet representatives from some 50 local, national and international companies.

TSTC provided free transportation to the Sweetwater campus for students coming from the Abilene, Breckenridge and Brownwood campuses. Students talked with representatives from companies looking to fill positions in various fields such as diesel, electrical power and controls, industrial maintenance, nursing, welding, and wind energy.

It was the first time some companies had visited the West Texas campus.

“I was surprised that TSTC had an RN program out here, and now that I know, we fully intend to take advantage of having this local resource,” Tara Camp, community marketing liaison for Cogdell Memorial Hospital, said.

For others, this was an event marked on their calendar every year.

“I go to as many of the job fairs that TSTC does as possible because of the type of training the students get and just the type of personality these students have. Their hands-on experience shows, and they have the willingness to keep learning on the job,” Bret A. Martinets, Human Resources manager at M&S Engineering, said.

The event was a homecoming for TSTC diesel program alumnus Josh McBride of Bruckner’s Truck Sales Inc.

“I hope these students just keep their eyes open and learn from every opportunity because it pays off,” McBride said.

Representatives from Oncor Electric Delivery spoke with students from TSTC’s Electrical Power and Controls, Industrial Maintenance, and Wind Energy programs and offered on-site interviews.

“We’ve got 10 positions we need to fill in Odessa alone, so there is a huge need across the state,” Brad Villa, M&C supervisor at Oncor, said.

TSTC in Abilene Electrical Power and Controls student Anthony Neighbors said he was impressed with the company turnout and hopes to find a job that allows him to travel.

“I’m a single dad, so I want something that provides for my son but that also lets me enjoy new places,” Neighbors said.

Neighbors spoke with representatives from Koenig & Bauer and said he felt like he had found the place for him.

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

More Than 50 Companies Represented at TSTC Industry Job Fair

More than 180 students and alumni attended the TSTC Industry Job Fair at TSTC in Sweetwater. More than 50 companies were represented. 

Houston Company Representatives Visit TSTC’s EPC Program

(ABILENE) – Representatives of a Houston company recently spoke to Electrical Power and Controls program students at Texas State Technical College about industry growth and the jobs outlook.

“We want TSTC students because we know that what they’re learning in the class is what we need in the field. We’ve hired students from TSTC before but this new location means more potential talent,” Alan Postiglione, Business Development Manager for Absolute Testing said.

Founded in 2008, Absolute Testing Services, Inc. has grown from having five technicians to an organization that serves customers internationally. One of the first five technicians was TSTC alumnus Blake Forester.Forester graduated in 2003 from TSTC in Waco with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Instrumentation Technology.

“Absolute drew me in because I would get the chance to start with a company from the ground up,” Forester said. “Since then, it’s been the people who are amazing and that they keep us busy with all different types of work that make me happy to be here.

He is not the only TSTC alumni recruited by Absolute. Cody Lindsey graduated from TSTC in Waco’s Electrical Power and Controls program in 2014 and started working for Absolute.

“You’re never treated like a number. (Absolute) is very family oriented and gives you the chance to learn and grow,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey says if there was any advice he could offer this class of graduates, it was to never be afraid to ask questions and find a company that aligns with your personal goals.

TSTC opened the Industrial Technology Center in Abilene last fall  with new programs in Electrical Power and Controls, Instrumentation Technology and Welding.

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

Houston Company Representatives Visit TSTCs EPC Program

Representatives from Absolute Testing Services, Inc. spoke with TSTC in Abilene Electrical Power and Controls students about career opportunities. 

TSTC’s EMS Program Turns Experience Into College Credit

Time for an upgrade? The Emergency Medical Services program at Texas State Technical College in Abilene recently created a program that brings more opportunity to current and future students.

The EMS program now gives certified paramedics and emergency medical technicians college credit for some certifications they already have. The certifications are transferred toward earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Emergency Medical Services Paramedic to becoming licensed paramedics.

“We are offering an opportunity for students who already have some experience,” said Ronnie Pitts, an EMS instructor and the college’s statewide department chair. “We evaluate the certifications they have already obtained, and they can transfer those certifications toward our degree plan here at TSTC.”

To take advantage of the program’s credit by certification, a student must already be a certified EMT or paramedic.

“When these students graduate, they will have a college degree on top of all the previous certifications they already obtained to work in the field to be more marketable in their job hunt. It helps our students save time and money, and to increase their growth in the field,” Pitts said.

Pitts stated that students can save time because instead of having to retake the basic courses to be admitted into a paramedic program, TSTC will accept the Texas Department of State Health Services certifications as college credit after a student credit evaluation is completed along with a $25 fee per course that is transferred. Students are only required to take 15 hours, or 20 percent, of the degree plan at TSTC to earn the associate degree.

Randall Noe, a firefighter/paramedic with the Mineral Wells Fire Department, earned his certifications through another institution and was able to transfer all of his credits to TSTC.

“I want the degree because it can further your career,” Noe said. “I’m able to earn it online, so it doesn’t interfere with my work schedule much.”

This will be Noe’s first degree. He is expected to graduate in summer of 2019.

Zachary Henderson, a firefighter/paramedic with the Baytown Fire Department, earned his EMT basic certification at TSTC but his paramedic certification through a third party.

“My time at TSTC really helped me in the long run because it laid the foundation for other training,” Henderson said. “My goal is to become a teacher, and the degree is important to have because it gives me that option and the opportunity to go even further with my degree and get a bachelor’s.”

Henderson chose the program with TSTC because he can complete it online while still working in the Houston area. Henderson is expected to graduate with his associate degree in spring of 2019.  

Once a student graduates from the program and passes the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam, he or she can work with emergency medical services, schools, hospitals or as safety officers.

TSTC’s EMS program is always accepting applications and hosts an information session every Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Industrial Technology Center at 2082 Quantum Loop in Abilene.

For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC in Abilene is offering state certified paramedics and ETMs the opportunity to earn an Associate degree and work toward becoming a licensed paramedic.

TSTC Alumnus Overcomes Obstacles to Pursue Teaching

(ABILENE) – Computers and water don’t mix. But water — too much of it — was what led Texas State Technical College alumnus Tony Torres to pursue his passion for computer programming.

“After my wife finished school, the plan was for me to go (to college). But the day she was supposed to start her new job, our house flooded,” Torres said. “It was a blessing in disguise because I couldn’t juggle fixing the house, going to school and working full time. So we decided that the house and (my) education was a priority.“

During the two years that Torres studied for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Database and Web Programming at TSTC in Abilene, he also repaired the couple’s home.

Then, in the last semester before his 2016 graduation, he caught pneumonia.

“My brother had to drive me to my final project because I was wheezing so bad that I couldn’t drive,” Torres said. “But my final project was something nobody in our class had done before, and I wanted to present.”

Torres’ final project, based on an idea from his wife, was an IOS grocery app that helps create recipes, keeps users on budget and sends reminders about potentially expired foods.

“I like to challenge myself, and this was a different type of computer language than what we had studied. But I know my craft and had the tools to do it,” Torres said.  

Despite multiple obstacles, Torres’ dedication made him stand out to his instructors, and he was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Award and the Provost Award.

“Tony was an excellent student,” Julie Rhoades, Database and Web Programming master instructor, said. “He worked hard and if he started something, it got done.”

After graduation, Torres remained in contact with his instructors while honing his skills as a freelancer. When a position for a Database and Web Programming lab assistant opened up at TSTC in Abilene, he got the job. He is currently working on a bachelor’s degree to become an instructor.

“TSTC’s top priority is to recruit top talent — and Tony is top talent,” Rhoades said.

Torres said his instructors were an inspiration to him, and that’s what he hopes to be for his students.

“I love teaching,” he said. “I believe in what we do, and that’s changing lives.”

Torres encourages anyone interested in problem-solving to pursue the DWP program.

For more information, log on to tstc.edu.

Texas State Technical College in Abilene Alumnus Tony Torres teaches as a Lab Assistant for Database and Web Programming at Texas State Technical College in Abilene.

TSTC Graduate Honors Instructor

(ABILENE) — Friendships can be one of the greatest things about a student’s time at college.  

Recent Texas State Technical College Emergency Medical Services graduate Ricki Coleman found a great friend in his EMS instructor, Ronnie Pitts. So Coleman took time to honor him at TSTC’s Fall 2018 commencement ceremony.

“Ronnie is the reason I’m graduating,” Coleman said. “He really listened to me and became a friend and a mentor, and I wouldn’t be here without him.”

Coleman is a member of the academic honor society Phi Theta Kappa, and as a thank-you he gifted Pitts with an honorary Phi Theta Kappa stole.

“I had no clue he was going to give me this, and I am so honored,” Pitts said. “We’re both about the same age and have gone through a lot of the same things, so I’m just glad I could offer some advice.”

Coleman served in the U.S Army from 1990 to 2004. After he left, he worked in several fire service and emergency medical service jobs.

“I’ve always had a calling to this field and just want to help people,” Coleman said.  

Despite years of experience in the industry, Coleman wanted to be an example for his children and get a degree.

“It’s showing that you can be committed and consistent in the business world, and I can’t tell my kids to do something if I can’t be the example,” Coleman said.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, emergency medical technician and paramedic jobs are expected to grow by 15 percent over the next 10 years.

With the expected growth in jobs, TSTC in Abilene moved the EMS program to the new Industrial Technology Center that opened at the beginning of the fall semester.  

“The new building is beautiful, and I think it helps to teach these skills in a real-life setting,” Coleman said.

Wanting to follow in his mentor’s footsteps, Coleman hopes to become an instructor in TSTC’s EMS program.

“Ricki has always been an ideal student: respectful, professional and open to feedback,” Pitts said. “And I think anywhere would be very lucky to have him in their employment.”

Before the commencement ceremony, Coleman and Pitts shared a laugh and a hug as they celebrated his achievement.

“This was a bucket-list accomplishment, and there have been so many people — my kids, my wife and of course him (Pitts) — that helped to get me here,” Coleman said.

For more information about TSTC, log on to tstc.edu.


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, go to www.tstc.edu.

TSTC in West Texas Holds Fall 2018 Commencement