Category Archives: Brownwood

Brownwood Firefighters Further Education in TSTC EMS Program

(BROWNWOOD) – Not all heroes wear capes, but some do arrive in big red fire trucks.

Three Brownwood firefighters, Ron Groom, John Hendrix and Justin Prince, volunteered to further their education and attend the Texas State Technical College Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program in Brownwood to become paramedics. It almost requires superhuman strength for them to maintain a full-time class schedule while being ready to fight fires and help save lives in their community.

“Any higher level of skill we can have is a benefit to the community. We usually are the first on scene, not always, but a majority of the time. So anything we can do to help is a benefit to everyone,” Groom, captain of the Brownwood Fire Department, said.

Firefighters in Texas are required to have training as basic emergency medical technicians. This is the first group from the Brownwood Fire Department to pursue paramedic licenses, the highest level for EMS responders.

“I, personally, and most firefighters want to be the best firefighters we can be. With our call volume being a majority of EMS, it’s essential that we have that training to be the best on those calls,” said Hendrix, who is a driver for the Brownwood Fire Department and a part-time firefighter with the Early Fire Department.

Besides providing a higher level of service for the community, becoming a paramedic offers an opportunity for promotion within a fire station and is a bonus when applying with other stations.

“For anyone in this field today, education is extremely important, whether it’s as a firefighter or in EMS,” Groom said. “To be in those higher-up or leadership roles, they’re asking for more education on top of having that paramedic license. So it’s important if you want to pursue that.”

According to projections by O*Net Online, Texas can expect increases in emergency medical technician and paramedic jobs of 20 percent and municipal firefighter jobs of 17 percent by 2026.

“There’s a huge need for first responders. Paramedics, especially in the Brownwood area, are in large demand. These guys are helping to fill a need in the community,” Stephanie Young, EMS instructor at TSTC, said.

Working in a smaller department has benefits because firefighters train in a variety of fields, but it also offers challenges.

“Just because it says ‘fire department’ doesn’t mean it’s just fire,” Prince, lieutenant with the Brownwood Fire Department, said. “We’re considered a jack-of-all-trades, so if they don’t know who to call, they call us. We need to be prepared.”

The Brownwood Fire Department encourages anyone interested in becoming a firefighter or entering an EMS field to visit the station or TSTC and ask questions.

Groom, Hendrix and Prince are expected to graduate in spring 2020. For more information on

Texas State Technical College, log on to tstc.edu.


Three Brownwood firefighters, pictured left to right, John Hendrix, Ron Groom and Justin Prince, are working toward their paramedic associate degrees at TSTC in Brownwood.

TSTC Student Exemplifies Dual Enrollment Success

(Brownwood) – Education means opportunity, and no one values that more than Alan Acosta, a Welding Technology student at Texas State Technical College in Brownwood.  

Acosta plans to be the first member of his immediate family, who immigrated from Mexico when he was 6, to earn a college degree. He started working on that goal while still a Brownwood High School student, earning college credit through TSTC’s dual enrollment program in welding.

After graduating high school in May 2018, Acosta became a full-time TSTC student working toward a structural welding certificate.

“I first tried welding in middle school and was fascinated by it, but I was pretty horrible,” Acosta said. “But after the classes in high school, I felt a lot more confident, and I’m learning faster now in college.”

The partnership between TSTC and Brownwood High School allows high school students to experience college courses before committing as a full-time traditional student.

“Dual enrollment students become much more experienced in college coursework than other students entering college having never attended a college class, not knowing what to expect,” Rene Ralston, TSTC director of dual enrollment, said. “Brownwood High School is in TSTC’s backyard, so it makes sense to partner with the school.”

TSTC welding instructor Stephen Hope believes that dual enrollment allows students the chance to figure out what they want to do in life and learn what opportunities are available.

“Alan is a determined young man, and he works so hard because he knows that there are so many job opportunities waiting for him,” Hope said. “He will go far because of his determination, and I’m proud of him.”

Acosta encourages anyone interested in getting a well-paying job to pursue their education. “If you have the ambition, you can do it. It may be hard, but you will learn it,” Acosta said. “And the people at TSTC are so helpful and willing to be there for you.”

Acosta’s younger brother, Domingo, is following in his footsteps and is currently enrolled in the welding dual enrollment program at Brownwood High.

Alan Acosta plans to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology at TSTC in Abilene and hopes to graduate in April 2020.

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

TSTC in Brownwood student Alan Acosta is working on a structural welding certificate after completing the welding dual credit program with TSTC and Brownwood High School.

TSTC Provides Qualified Wedlers for Local Jobs

(BROWNWOOD) — The need for skilled welders is growing, and local businesses hope to remind welders of job opportunities close to home.

The Texas State Technical College welding program in Brownwood produces qualified welders ready for industry, and local companies hope to attract those interested in staying in the area.

“I worked in the oil field, and it’s good work, but it can be hard on families,” said Stephen Hope, a TSTC in Brownwood welding instructor. “So these local fabrication shops are great for those who want stability, and there’s a chance to make a career and move up.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers nationwide are expected to grow to more than 427,000 through 2026. A majority of those jobs are expected to be in manufacturing.

One local business, Barr Fabrication, says it is interested in hiring area workers and supporting local businesses.

“It benefits the Brownwood community as a whole when we hire locally, and we’re very proud to be part of this community,” said Francie Clark, the public and employee relations representative for Barr Fabrication.  

For another company, Solaris Oilfield Infrastructure, creating a positive work-life balance for its employees is something it takes pride in.

“If we can hire welders of Brown County, it means they can make competitive pay without sacrificing time away from family,” said Amber Ray, a human resources representative with the company.

TSTC partners with industry leaders to ensure that graduates find the right company to match their professional and personal goals.

“We’ve got a great program here that lets us work with students one-on-one and provide specific instruction,” Hope said. “That, and our conversations with people in the industry locally and elsewhere, really helps us to make sure these students get where they want to be.”

TSTC in Brownwood offers a three-semester structural welding certificate that includes classes in blueprint reading, fabrication, layout and technical calculations.

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

 

TSTC Alumna Uses Degree, Experience to Help Heal Others

(BROWNWOOD) — Battling addiction takes determination, drive and a support system. Texas State Technical College alumna Stephanie Narramore used these tools in her own recovery and now uses them to help others.

Narramore graduated in 2015 from TSTC in Brownwood with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Chemical Dependency Counseling and is now Associate Director of Clinical Services at Starlite Recovery Center in Center Point, Texas.

“TSTC was a really important part of me changing and my recovery. I suffered from a (drug) addiction for 14 years, and it was time for a change for my daughter and for me,” Narramore said.

When Narramore arrived at TSTC, she was nervous to be going back to school as a nontraditional student but was surprised by the support she found.

“I was scared,” Narramore said. “I was really scared to be going to school at my age, 38, but my instructors and the staff were amazing. They helped me to see something in myself that I didn’t at the time. They put in just as much work as I did.”

Elizabeth Jones, a Chemical Dependency Counseling instructor, recognized the willingness to change in Narramore.

“Stephanie came to school determined, prepared and totally ready to make a change in her life,” said Jones, who was also a mentor to Narramore. “She knew that hard work was in her future, and she never walked away from a challenge. She is a role model for other students in the Chemical Dependency Counseling program.”

Driven by her desire to create a better life as a single mother, Narramore earned not only her degree, but also a list of honors along the way.

“I was the guest speaker at my graduation, the Board of Regents Medal of Honor recipient and president of the honor society Phi Theta Kappa. It was very validating,” Narramore said.

Narramore’s attitude and will to succeed left a lasting impression on the people she encountered at TSTC.

“Stephanie is hardworking and determined. She sets goals and doesn’t let hurdles get in her way.” Raquel Mata, associate provost of TSTC in Brownwood, said.

In her current position at Starlite Recovery Center, Narramore says she has found a way to help heal others.

“I’ve been where these patients have been, so I know exactly what they’re going through,” Narramore said. “I found my purpose, and it’s being able to make a difference in someone else’s life.”

The TSTC Chemical Dependency Counseling program is available at the Abilene, Breckenridge and Brownwood campuses.

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

TSTC Unveils New Emergency Medical Services Simulator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TSTC Holds Summer 2018 Commencement

(ABILENE) – More than 130 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Summer 2018 Commencement held Friday, Aug. 17, at the Abilene Convention Center.

Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater, said the night was a time to celebrate.

“For the graduates, tonight is an achievement,” Denbow said. “The sacrifices you made to get homework and tests done and being experts at time management was all worth it.”

Guest speaker Samuel Garcia, owner and operator of Samuel Garcia State Farm Insurance and a board member at Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas, said he was a fan of TSTC’s mission.

Garcia told graduates to think about others who have not experienced higher education. He told them to value the certificates and associate degrees they were receiving.

“Tonight is about you,” Garcia said. “Tomorrow is about you talking about what education can do for a person.”

Some graduates will continue on with their education.

Devan Moore, 30, of Abilene is a U.S. Army veteran who received a certificate in Wind Energy Technology from TSTC in Sweetwater.

“I want to say that it is a sense of accomplishment,” he said. “The best times were when I was up-tower in a wind turbine and applying what I learned.”

Moore will be one of the first students in the new Industrial Maintenance Technology program starting this fall at TSTC in Abilene.

Some graduates already have jobs.

Pamela Hermosillo, 21, of Breckenridge earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Chemical Dependency Counseling from TSTC in Breckenridge.

She has been hired to work at the Walker Sayle Unit, part of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Hermosillo also did her practicum at the prison.

“You learn a lot from the inmates,” she said. “You understand what they are doing in their addictions to drugs and alcohol.”

Some graduates are continuing their job hunt.

Robert Wiley, 24, of Abilene received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration from TSTC in Abilene.

“I enjoyed being around other students pursuing their career goals,” he said.

Wiley had several people in attendance at the graduation ceremony, including his parents and members of his church congregation.

Luis Rueda, 20, of Colorado City received a certificate in Welding Technology from TSTC in Sweetwater. He earned dual credit through TSTC when he was a student at Colorado High School in Colorado City.

“My brother started welding a lot,” Rueda said. “When he talked to me about it and said it was cool, that caught my attention and I just got into it.”

Rueda said he wants to get a welding job in the Midland-Odessa area.

Caydon Vara, 19, of Brownwood received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Emergency Medical Technology from TSTC in Brownwood.

“I want to go to the fire side of it,” Vara said. “It runs in the family. It’s a calling.”

Earlier in the day, the Associate Degree in Nursing Pinning Ceremony for TSTC in Sweetwater nursing graduates took place at an Abilene church.

For more information, log on to tstc.edu.

TSTC EMS Student Sets a High Bar

(BROWNWOOD) – Christopher Michael of Comanche worked jobs as a bartender and band tour manager after high school, but he knew he wanted to do more with his life.

The job he had as a volunteer firefighter lit the spark, which led to him to enroll at Texas State Technical College.

“I was looking for something more long-term and stable,” he said.

Michael is a candidate for graduation for the Certificate 2 – Emergency Medical Services Paramedic at Texas State Technical College’s Summer 2018 Commencement on Friday, Aug. 17, at the Abilene Convention Center.

Michael is already a graduate of TSTC, having finished his Certificate 1 – Emergency Medical Services EMT in 2017.

“It’s been amazing,” he said. “The instructors we have here have been helpful inside and outside the classroom. You spend so much time working together that it’s like a family.”

Stephanie Young, a TSTC Emergency Medical Services instructor, said Michael set a standard of professionalism among his classmates.

“He is just a wonderful advocate for our program,” she said. “He’s never late, has a 4.0 grade point average, which is not easy in the medical field. He is outstanding in his clinicals. He really sets the standard.”

Michael, 36, currently works for Lifeguard Emergency Medical Services in Brownwood.

“We answer 911 calls in Brown County and take transfers across the state,” he said. “I can work on classwork between calls. I have to push through it. It’s a grueling schedule with school and clinicals.”

Michael’s clinical work was in Abilene and split between ambulance services and hospitals. He said he enjoyed being in the operating rooms the most, learning about anatomy and medical procedures.

“The students learn quality patient care and professionalism that really sets them apart from others,” Young said. “We teach in a flip classroom, which means it is all scenario-based education. It is real world, real-life scenarios from mock phone calls to action in the field. There is an extreme demand for paramedics, so much so that they are being offered hiring bonuses.”

Michael will be among the first Emergency Medical Services students attending classes in late August in the new Industrial Technology Center at TSTC in Abilene. The EMS program is relocating to the new building from the East Highway 80 campus in Abilene.

“Right now I am at another stepping stone to be a flight medic,” said Michael. “I could not have picked a better college.”

Michael is a 2000 graduate of Comanche High School.

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

 

TSTC Visionary Murray Watson Jr. Remembered for Service

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College mourned Wednesday the loss of former Texas legislator Murray Watson Jr., who filed legislation in 1969 to separate what was an arm of the Texas A&M University system into a stand-alone institution for technical education that would become TSTC.

“If there was ever a Mr. TSTC, it would be Murray Watson,” said Elton Stuckly Jr., TSTC’s executive vice chancellor and chief strategic relations officer.

Watson died Tuesday at age 86.

Watson was a state senator when he filed legislation to make the James Connally Technical Institute independent and rename it Texas State Technical Institute (now TSTC). Gov. Preston Smith signed the bill’s final version in May 1969 in Austin.

At TSTC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in April 2015 in Austin, Watson was honored with a Founder’s Award.

Watson’s name is on TSTC’s student recreation center on Campus Drive. That factored into his wife, Greta, having been honored with the nearby Culinary Arts building being named for her.

“Murray and I walked out of the old (TSTC) system’s building, and we were about a million dollars short to build the new Culinary Arts Center,” Stuckly said. “I said, ‘Mr. Watson, I want you to think about something. Your name is on that (the recreation center) building. Wouldn’t it be nice for it (the new building) to be called the Greta W. Watson Culinary Arts Center? If you give us a million dollars, you could look at each other forever.’ It wasn’t a couple of weeks later that he called and said he was going to do it.”

Stuckly said Watson was a mentor who would give him advice.

“He always stayed in contact with me by email,” Stuckly said. “He was always looking for ways and ideas of how to make TSTC a better college.”

Stuckly said he and Watson always found much to talk about.

“He grew up in Mart, and I was raised in Penelope,” Stuckly said. “He always wanted to ask about TSTC first, then talk about farm cattle and his feed store and what I used to do on the farm. He said, ‘Elton, there aren’t many people that I can talk to who relate to those times.’”

Verna Lastrapes, a TSTC college outreach specialist, grew up knowing the Watson family in Mart. She said Watson’s family owned the local feed store, which she would visit as a four-year-old with her father at least twice a week to catch up with residents.

“Murray Jr. was a senior at Mart High School then,” she said. “I knew him well because he and my sister, Barbara, were friends.”

Pete Rowe, TSTC’s vice president for institutional development, hauled hay for Watson when he was a teenager in Mart. Rowe also graduated from Mart High School.

“It’s a personal loss for me because I loved him so much,” Rowe said. “He was a great mentor to me. He and Mrs. Watson have always been very kind to me and have done a lot for me in my life and career.”

Lastrapes said residents in Mart thought Watson would be president one day.

“He did not become president, but he did become our state representative and our state senator,” she said. “As a teenager, I remember helping campaign for him. Just about everyone in Mart campaigned for him.”

The feed store factored into Watson’s law career.

“When he lost the campaign for U.S. representative and went into private law practice, he had his office in Waco and one in Mart above the feed store,” Lastrapes said. “For years that is where he conducted all legal transactions with my daddy and other rural area farmers and businessmen.”

Rowe said Watson raised cattle andis sure he must have encountered on his ranch some of what TSTC teaches today.

“Murray was a highly intelligent person,” he said. “He was way ahead of the curve in the education field. He really studied education. He knew what to do.”

Lastrapes worked several years at the Brazos Higher Education Service Corp. Inc., which financed student loans. Watson was one of the organization’s founders.

“He had his own time schedule,” she said. “We began to say, ‘The starting time is when Murray Watson gets there.’ That was for everything!”

John K. Hatchel, chair of the TSTC Board of Regents, worked with Watson as a member of the Brazos Higher Education Service’s board of directors.

“He was very quiet, but he was consistent,” Hatchel said. “If there was a person who needed something or help, he was the first in line to do his part. He did it not expecting any accolades or thank-you’s. He just did it as a person.”

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

 

TSTC in Brownwood to Host Registration Events This Summer

(BROWNWOOD) – Texas State Technical College will have two Registration Rally events this summer in Brownwood.

The events will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 26 and July 31 at the Enrollment Center/Learning Resource Center at 305 Booker St. in Brownwood. The events are part of an effort to make the registration process as easy as possible for incoming students planning to take classes in the fall semester.

“We make it fun,” said Devin Crenshaw, a TSTC college outreach representative. “They can come and do every single thing in one day. It’s easier for people that don’t want to deal with the lengthy process and do a lot of back and forth. They can just come and get it done and not wait until the first class day.”

Visitors can take campus tours and learn about the seven technical programs offered at TSTC in Brownwood, including Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology, Emergency Medical Services and Welding Technology.

People interested in enrolling should bring a copy of their driver’s license, high school transcript or GED, any college transcripts, proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination and TSI scores.

TSTC is having registration events at its 10 campuses throughout the state this summer. For information on the closest Registration Rally, log on to tstc.edu/rally.

For more information, contact TSTC in Brownwood at 325-643-5987 or visit tstc.edu.