Category Archives: Abilene

TSTC Culinary Art Graduate Finds His Passion in the Kitchen

(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 progrExecutive Chef Marc Silvasam 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.

Home Grow ‘Em: Area Company Offers Apprenticeships for TSTC Students

_5D_9989(ABILENE) – A local company is offering students in the Aviation Maintenance programs at Texas State Technical College a chance for hands-on experience and, after graduation, a job.

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

Three TSTC in West Texas Employees Earn Chancellor’s Excellence Award

2016wt-chancellors-awards-luncheon(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 Health System Donates to TSTC Digital Media Design Program

Hendrick Donationsm(ABILENE) – Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene is bringing the dream of a college education a little bit closer for students of the Digital Media Design program at Texas State Technical College.

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 for more information.

TSTC Student Art Featured in Exhibition

13620352_10209835387026816_4543642920853365105_n(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 or call 325-672-7091.

TSTC Students to Challenge for Gold

(WEST TEXAS) – Two students from Texas State Technical College in West Texas are preparing to travel to Louisville, Kentucky to contend for gold medals at SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference.


Rachael Thompson will compete in First Aid-CPR and Jon William Lewis will compete in Information Technology Systems at the conference, which is scheduled for June 20 to 24. More than 6,000 high school and college students are expected to compete in about 100 contests.


“We are very proud,” TSTC in West Texas Provost Eliska Smith said. “We are excited that we will be represented again at SkillsUSA. It’s wonderful for them to have this experience to compete against other college students around the nation.”


The TSTC Foundation honored the students with a special send-off on Friday, June 10, in Abilene.


Winning a gold medal at the national competition can add another credential to students’ resumes and make them more marketable when job hunting.


“SkillsUSA is an excellent opportunity to get the attention of important people, whether it be the contest chair who is selected from industry or a potential employer through one’s resume,” said Lewis, 21, of Abilene and a May graduate in Computer Networking and Systems Administration.


Students from TSTC in West Texas, Waco and Harlingen won more than 30 gold medals, and more than 70 medals total, during SkillsUSA’s statewide postsecondary competition in early April in Waco.


“The biggest success I think we have had this year for our campuses in West Texas has been the amount of medals we have taken home this year,” said Crystal Latham-Alford, a SkillsUSA campus director for the Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater campuses. “Also, this is the second year we have been up in participation numbers in the last five years. We continue to grow and the future looks bright.”


SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help college students pursue successful careers. Members build these skills through student-led team meetings, contests, leadership conferences and other activities.


Registration continues for the fall semester at TSTC. For more information, log on to

TSTC Holds Annual Spring Team Challenge Cook-off

(SWEETWATER) – Texas State Technical College held their annual Spring Team Challenge Cook-off Tuesday, bringing together faculty, staff and students aspiring to show off their grilling talents during a fun-filled day of camaraderie.

Competing teams were challenged to come up with dishes based on chicken, steak, potatoes, beans and a mystery item. This year’s mystery items were squash and zucchini. There was also an award for “best camp,” given to the teams who put the most effort into creating a theme for their cooking area.

Team “Los Chivos” was the Overall Champion, bringing home second place awards in steak, chicken, beans, mystery item and the best camp categories.

“Brown Chicken Brown Cow” out of Abilene took second Overall Champion, with first place in chicken and best camp, second place in potatoes, and third in steak and mystery item.

“Brown Sugar” took home third Overall Champion, and first place awards in steak and mystery item.

Veronica Maldonado, an Electromechanical Technology student, was part of the Los Chivos team.

“I wanted to compete in the cook-off because it seemed like a really fun idea, and I also love grilling,” Maldonado said. “The best part for me was that, of the Sweetwater campus, I was the only female student in the competition. I wish we would have more events like this; more friendly competitions.”

Justin Price, department chair of Computer-Aided Drafting & Design, competed for the first time this year. Price was part of the Brown Chicken Brown Cow team, along with the Computer Networking & Systems Administration department chair, and students from both programs.

“I thought it was a good opportunity,” Price said. “It was a fun time to get out and interact with the students and faculty outside of the classroom. It went good for our team; we had fun and I enjoyed it.”

TSTC’s Team Challenge Cook-Off has been held every year in the fall and spring since 2012.


TSTC Students Prepare for Pop-Up Restaurant Opening

Texas State Technical College Culinary Arts students will open their temporary restaurant beginning Tuesday, Nov. 3 at T&P Depot on North 1st Street in Abilene.

(ABILENE) – Dusty Barnett, a first-year culinary arts student at Texas State Technical College in Abilene, is eager to be in the middle of the quick pace of a restaurant atmosphere for the first time later this fall.

“I love to cook, so I decided to get that degree in something I enjoy doing,” said Barnett, 34, of Abilene and a Class of 2000 graduate of Paint Creek High School in Paint Creek. “I enjoy the cooking and how the food tastes to other people and knowing that I had a part in creating that food.”

Barnett and other TSTC culinary arts students are preparing for the opening of a temporary student-run restaurant at T&P Depot at 901 N. 1st St. in Abilene.

People interested in visiting can make a reservation beginning Thursday, Oct. 1. by calling 325-670-9240 or online at The restaurant will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays on Nov. 3-5, 10-12, 17-19 and Dec. 1-3 and 8-9.
Students have several options to study culinary arts at TSTC’s campuses.

Students in West Texas can pursue an associate degree in Professional Cooking or a certificate in Food Service Technology in Abilene.

TSTC also offers culinary arts at the Waco, Harlingen and Williamson County campuses.

TSTC to Hold Second Annual Reach for Recovery Car & Bike Show Saturday

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College will hold its second annual Reach for Recovery Car & Bike Show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 at the campus in Abilene.

There will be a $20 fee per vehicle per class to enter the show. Classes include antique, classic, muscle, import, pick up, orphan, unfinished, Volkswagen, Corvette, rat rod, low rider and motorcycle.

Several TSTC programs will be participating, including Emergency Medical Services performing wellness checks, Digital Arts drawing caricatures, and Welding creating the trophies for car show winners. Digital Media Design also designed fliers for the event, Drafting mapped out the event area, Software & Business Management organized the vendors and the Chemical Dependency Counseling program is hosting.

A variety of booths will be present, and the animal shelter will have a food drive and adoption event. There will also be vendors selling food and crafts.

Sponsors include:

GOLD: Abilene Chicken Expresses (owned by TSTC Alumnus Steve Davis), Classic Auto Restyling
SILVER: Arrow Ford, Abilene Behavioral Health, A Party People, 3rd Street Printing and Sign Co.
BRONZE: The 180 House, Mary Kay

Admission is free. Funds raised will benefit Guardians of the Children, and TSTC’s Reach Club and Student Leadership. For more information, visit

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TSTC to Hold Second Annual Reach for Recovery Car & Bike Show

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College will hold its second annual “Reach for Recovery” Car & Bike Show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 at the campus in Abilene. There will be a $20 fee per vehicle per class to enter the show. Classes include antique, import, rat rod, motorcycle and more. Admission is free. Funds raised will benefit Guardians of the Children, and TSTC’s Reach Club and Student Leadership. For more information, visit

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