Category Archives: Harlingen

TSTC Receives TWC Grant for Construction-Related Courses

(HARLINGEN) – The Workforce Training and Continuing Education Office at Texas State Technical College recently received a $119, 988 Building Trade Grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

This grant will help train 40 trainees in TSTC’s National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Electrical Level 1 and Construction Level 1 courses.

“The partnership we have with the TWC is great,” said Myra Deleon, TSTC’s Continuing Education project manager. “Their donations help open doors of opportunity for many individuals and families. They help people grow.”

Deleon added that in light of some large construction projects forecast for the South Texas region, such as SpaceX and Texas LNG, this recent donation from TWC allows Workforce Training and Continuing Education to be proactive in assuring that the region has a trained workforce.TSTC Electrical, Construction Courses

“These are the credentials that most large contractors require for their employees,” said Deleon. “They are precursors to an individual looking for a career in the electrical and construction industries.”

NCCER Electrical Level 1 is a 224-hour electrical course that consists of NCCER Core, NCCER Electrical, safety and forklift components and a CPR, automated external defibrillator (AED) and first aid sessions.

Those who enroll in this course can expect to learn the foundation of safety, communication skills and construction drawings to the theory of residential electrical circuits and will become certified in first aid, CPR and AED use.

NCCER Construction Level 1 is a 262-hour course and focuses on the NCCER Core and NCCER Basic Framing, introduction to carpentry and a safety and forklift component. The course will also focus on basic safety, wood frame structures, layout, floors, wall and roofs.

In addition to the electrical wiring and construction training, students will also become forklift- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certified.

Both NCCER credentials are recognized internationally so can be used to work in the United States and abroad.

“Safety is everyone’s number one priority, so the more safety training an employee has the more marketable they are to employers,” said Deleon. “Trainings like these help minimize accidents and get people home to their families at the end of the day.”

The NCCER Electrical and Construction Level 1 courses are held in the evening and open to anyone in or pursuing a career in the industry.

Class tuition and books are generally covered by TWC grants or sponsored by the employer, Workforce Solutions grants and the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation.

The next NCCER session starts October 30 and is still open for enrollment.

For more information on the NCCER curse and tuition sponsors call TSTC Continuing Education at 956-364-4567.

TSTC EMS Program Receives National Accreditation

(HARLINGEN) – It has been four years in the making, but the Continuing Education Emergency Medical Service – Paramedic program at Texas State Technical College has been nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) – becoming the only accredited EMS program in Cameron County.

TSTC EMS Program Director and Advanced Coordinator Salvador Acevedo said that with national and state demand at its highest for paramedics, this national recognition gives them a greater opportunity for meeting industry need.

“I’m beyond excited. I’m so proud of the work everyone has done to achieve this recognition,” said Acevedo. “This was a lengthy four-year process and it has been validated.”

In addition to extensive paperwork, the program went through a peer review from CAAHEP’s board of directors and the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions.

With the accreditation in hand, set to take effect January 2018, Acevedo and his team can now offer an associate degree paramedic program, which will mirror the already accredited EMS program offered at TSTC’s Abilene campus.

“We’ve worked closely with the folks in Abilene for guidance with the accreditation process and the curriculum,” said Acevedo. “It’s been a great partnership between programs and now we can offer even more to our students.”TSTC EMS Program

The plan is to combine the EMS program’s emergency medical technician (EMT) and paramedic certificate courses to one EMT-to-paramedic pathway.

The program will be two years long and students will receive training in the EMT basic, intermediate and paramedic fields. Students must successfully complete all coursework, clinical site training and an ambulance practicum to receive credit for the associate degree.

The pathway will also prepare students to take and pass the required National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam, which will allow them to work anywhere in the United States.

“Students who enroll in this program can rest assured that they will be receiving the training they need from a national curriculum to have a successful career,” said Acevedo.

Acevedo added that every instructor, including himself, are seasoned paramedics who still work in the field, either full-time or part-time, ensuring that students in the program will always receive the most up-to-date information on medical protocols, additional certifications and skills used in industry.

TSTC paramedic student Morgan Putbrese earned her EMT certificate in July 2016 and is working toward her paramedic certificate, but said this new accreditation will take her education to the next level.

“With the program now being accredited I have the opportunity to earn my associate degree,” she said. “This is an exciting time for current and future students. This will help people in our field grow and continue their education.”

Once Putbrese completes the additional courses she needs for her associate degree she plans to work locally and give back to her community in the form of health care.

According to Acevedo, TSTC’s EMS program holds a 100 percent job placement rate. Students are either placed locally with companies such as South Texas Emergency Care Foundation (STEC), Med-Care EMS or Willacy County EMS, or elsewhere in the state with centers such as Austin-Travis County EMS.

“We’ve jumped the biggest hurdle and achieved accreditation,” said Acevedo. “The future of our program is bright and we’re looking forward to growing and offering more opportunities to our students.”

For more information on TSTC’s EMS program visit or call 956-364-4739.

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Eli QuinteroEli Quintero, 21, is a recent graduate and current student at Texas State Technical College. He earned his first associate degree in Telecommunications Technology in Summer 2017 and has returned to pursue a second associate degree in Automotive Technology.

When the Los Fresnos native is not studying, he is a work study in the Office of Student Life with the New Student Orientation team and is an active member and treasurer for the Intramural Sports Club on campus.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I want to follow in my dad’s footsteps and work at AT&T. He has had a successful 19-year career in telecommunications and I want that also. Once my career is established I want to continue my education to receive a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to grow in my field and someday be a director and supervise a team. Also, I hope to use my automotive degree to improve in my hobby of collecting and refurbishing classic cars.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

I’m a first-generation college graduate and student, so receiving my first degree has been my biggest accomplishment. I’m the oldest of six siblings and I hope my experiences are showing them that a college education is in reach and possible.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

I have learned that the key to college success, mine at least, is to get involved on campus. The more you are involved the more you learn and know, and the more you know, the more you can accomplish.

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

TSTC Business Management Technology student and Intramural Sports Club President Denice Molina has been my greatest influence. She’s the one who encourages me to be active on campus and study and work hard. She keeps me motivated.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future students is to be active on campus and their communities, meet new people and make new contacts; it helps you grow as a person.

TSTC Hosts First Fall Industry Job Fair

(HARLINGEN) – For the first time Texas State Technical College will be hosting two Industry Job Fairs for TSTC students and alumni – one in the fall and another in the spring.

The first job fair will be held October 26 from 9 a.m. to noon at TSTC’s Cultural Arts Center.

The annual job fair, hosted by TSTC’s Office of Talent Management and Career Services, has been around for at least two decades, but is usually held in the Spring semester.

The goal of each job fair remains the same each year and that is to help students network and learn about potential employers and job opportunities in an informal setting that helps to ease nerves and anxiety.

“We’re excited about being able to offer our students and alumni this additional opportunity to speak with employers and practice their interview skills,” said Viviana Espinoza, TSTC director of Talent management and Career Services.

Espinoza added that she has received a great response from industry as well, with at least 25 employers already booked for the October event.

Companies such as Toyota, Valley Baptist Medical Center, Wylie and Sons, SpawGlass, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Stewart and Stevenson and the United State Department of Agriculture will be on hand to present job opportunities and answer questions.TSTC Industry Job Fair

A common practice during TSTC’s job fairs is for industry representatives to not only speak with attendees, but also interview and hire on the spot.

“In past years we have had success with on-site interviews,” she said. “Many of our attendees have left with job offers, some even before graduating.”

Those attending the job fair are encouraged to come prepared with at least 10 copies of their resume, dressed to impress and ready for an interview.

To help students and alumni prepare for the job fair, TSTC’s Talent Management and Career Services offers year-round assistance with resume building and writing and in-house mock interviews to help students improve interview skills and gain confidence.

Additionally, every semester, the department hosts an Interview Practicum, where soon-to-be TSTC graduates complete mock interviews with local and statewide industry professionals to polish their interview skills.

“Our goal at career services is to place our students and alumni in high-paying jobs in their field of study,” said Espinoza. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a current student or you’ve graduated, our services remain the same and are here to stay.”

Espinoza encourages students and alumni to attend the Industry Job Fair and to take advantage of all the services the department provides locally and statewide.

TSTC’s campuses in Marshall and Waco will also host the same job fair on October 19 and November 2, respectively.

“Overall this is a great event that gives our students and alumni from all over the state the opportunity to find their dream job,” said Espinoza.

For more information on the Industry Job Fair or the services provided by Talent Management and Career Services call 956-364-4131.

TSTC National Guard Student Deployed for Harvey Relief

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College student and National Guard reservist Lino Gonzalez was recently deployed to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in coastal East Texas, derailing his plans to attend TSTC for the Fall 2017 semester.

The deployment, originally scheduled for late August through September, forced Gonzalez to withdraw from his Wind Energy Technology classes for fear of falling behind.

However, during deployment his orders changed, and Gonzalez got the opportunity to return home with his wife and two-year-old son earlier than planned. But he had already lost the semester.

“We go when and where we’re needed,” said Gonzalez. “This has in no way discouraged me from coming back.”

The Mercedes native will register to return to TSTC Wind Energy Technology in the spring.Lino Gonzalez

TSTC Veteran Center Director Steve Guevara said that, in accordance with state statutes and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board rules, college or university students like Gonzalez who are called to active duty as guard soldiers or reservists have three options. They can choose to receive a full refund of tuition and fees already paid; if eligible, receive an incomplete grade in all courses by designating “withdrawn military” on transcripts; or, as determined by the instructor, receive a final grade or credit if a substantial amount of coursework has been satisfactorily completed.

“We try to assist our active military and veteran students the best way we can,” said Guevara. “Our goal is to help them get the education they deserve and want.”

In Gonzalez’s case, he took the withdrawal option and dropped his courses. He said everything was settled quickly with no penalties, and it was like he never registered for the semester at all.

“Everyone was so helpful,” said Gonzalez. “My withdrawal process was smooth and stress-free, thanks to the help I received from my program instructor David Gomez and Veteran Center staff.”

While deployed, Gonzalez, who is also an Army veteran, helped the communities of Corpus Christi, Victoria, Katy, Beaumont and Port Arthur. He assisted the fire departments with evacuations, search and rescue, and debris cleanup.

“Hurricane Harvey was devastating to many communities and families. What we saw was surreal,” said Gonzalez. “That’s why, no matter the situation, it’s important to me to always help and serve.”

Gonzalez was 22 years old when he enlisted in the Army. The veteran Army specialist served eight years, with two tours in Afghanistan and Korea. During and after his time in the Army he worked as a generator mechanic and provided internet to military bases.

“What I did in the military goes hand in hand with what I’m studying now,” said Gonzalez. “I’m a hands-on learner and worker, and Wind Energy Technology and mechanics is what I see myself doing long term.”

The 31-year-old expects to earn his associate degree in Spring 2019 and looks forward to working as a Wind Turbine Technician.

For more information on the TSTC Veteran Center or Wind Energy Technology, visit

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Celina CasaresThis is Texas State Technical College student Celina Cazares’ first semester in college, but she is already proving herself with good grades and as an active member of the TSTC Service Squad and Agriculture Club.

The Brownsville native is a recent graduate of Lopez High School. The 18-year-old expects to complete her Academic Core by Spring 2019.

What are your plans after graduation?

I’m already looking into registered nursing programs. I want to study to be a nurse once I’m done with my academic classes. The idea of me being able to help others is what I love about nursing.

What’s your dream job?

 My dream is to get my bachelor’s degree in nursing, practicing my skills in a hospital or clinic and continuing my education for a master’s degree and maybe even doctorate degree.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment so far has been being selected for the Student Success Profile honor. It has given me the confidence I need, and I hope someone will read my article and get inspired to enroll at TSTC.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned comes from my parents, who always push me to do my best. They always tell me that if I want something to fight for it and not stop until I get it. So every time I run into an obstacle I remember this and I tell myself I can do better.

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

My Anatomy and Physiology instructor, Paul Leonard, and my Diet and Nutrition instructor, Michael Gay, have been my greatest influencers thus far. I love the way they teach and keep us engaged. They make a student want to come to class. And of course I need to mention my best friend since sixth grade, Angie Cruz. She’s also a student at TSTC. She keeps me sane when I’m stressed and is one of my biggest motivators and encouragers.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

I want future and current students to remember one thing: At the end of the day everything you do is your choice and the future is yours, so make the best of it.


TSTC Receives Latest ULA Donation Installment

(HARLINGEN) – United Launch Alliance recently donated $500 to Texas State Technical College’s SkillsUSA Precision Manufacturing 2017-18 competition team.

The donation comes as the latest installment of $168,600 that ULA has already given to the college for student scholarships and equipment.

Ralph Luaces, site lead at ULA Harlingen, said they are ecstatic about being able to help a program that has proven to be effective.

“ULA is happy to support the SkillsUSA program at TSTC,” said Luaces. “The students’ recent success in competition has shown that the program is very effective in developing and preparing students to enter the workforce.”

One of ULA’s largest donations came in 2015, when the company gave TSTC $40,000 for the college’s Challenger Learning Center Planetarium.

TSTC Senior Development Officer Amy Lynch said ULA is one of TSTC’s largest partners and supporters.TSTC and ULA Check Presentation

“ULA supports our college and its students not only with monetary contributions for scholarships but also with tool and equipment donations and by hiring our students,” said Lynch. “They’re a great asset to our college and our community.”

The recent contribution made to TSTC’s SkillsUSA Precision Manufacturing team will be used to fund equipment upgrades for the team’s Urban Search and Rescue robot, SkillsUSA uniforms and blazers, and personal protection equipment.

Just last year, ULA gave $1,000 for the purchase of a new robot kit and additional upgrades that put the robot at a more competitive level, and this year’s donation will help do the same.

The robot had previously been used and upgraded for the 2016 and 2017 SkillsUSA national competitions, respectively.

TSTC Mechatronics Technology student Michael Arreola and recent Mechatronics and Precision Manufacturing Technology graduate Rick Santos were the 2017 Urban Search and Rescue team that used the robot and earned gold medals at the national competition.

TSTC Precision Manufacturing Technology Instructor Rick Limas said it is donations like this one that help TSTC’s SkillsUSA students get to the national level and remain competitive among their peers.

“Industry support is imperative to our younger generation of craftsmen and craftswomen,” said Limas. “It helps our students cross barriers and jump hurdles and gives us insight and knowledge on what employers are looking for so we can get our students hired.”

Limas hopes this longtime partnership with ULA continues to remain strong and steadfast for the benefit of future TSTC students.

“We thank ULA and all of our industry leaders for their monetary, material and training support they provide to our students,” added Limas. “And we hope to continue working with everyone so that we can continue to provide our students with cutting-edge technology that will prepare them to be successful in industry.”

To donate to SkillsUSA and help TSTC students get to the 2018 SkillsUSA national competition, call The TSTC Foundation at 956-364-4500.

For more information on Precision Manufacturing Technology, visit

TSTC Vice Chancellor Takes on Provost Role

(HARLINGEN) – Rick Herrera first stepped foot on Texas State Technical College grounds when he was a student in the 1980’s and he never imagined the success and the family he would find at the college nearly 20 years later.

The San Benito native earned his associate degree from Texas State Technical Institute in 1987, before it became TSTC, in Industrial Data Processing, now known as computer science.

For the next two decades, Herrera had a rewarding career in the manufacturing industry as a programmer, engineering manager, production manager and site director for a maquiladora plant in Northern Mexico.

“At this point it was time to come back home and be closer to my children, so when the opportunity at TSTC presented itself I took it,” said Herrera.

The jump from manufacturing to higher education in 2009 was a change for Herrera, but his knowledge and skill quickly moved him up the ranks.

“Coming from industry it was about working effectively and efficiently to meet stakeholder profit,” said Herrera. “At TSTC, it’s about working for the benefit of our students. It’s important to me that we help them fulfil their version of the ‘American Dream.’”

Herrera is now TSTC Vice Chancellor and Chief Integration Officer and Interim Provost for the Harlingen campus – the highest local position.Rick Herrera

During his time at TSTC, Herrera has served as Director of Administrative Technology, Project Manager in charge of implementing TSTC’s statewide online learning management system and Associate Vice President of Technology Management.

In 2010, former TSTC Chancellor Bill Segura appointed Herrera as Chief Technology Officer before being promoted to his current positions of Vice Chancellor and Chief Integration Officer by TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser in 2011 and 2017 respectively.

“Through the years and in my new positions I’ve had to reevaluate my leadership styles,” said Herrera. “All of my experiences have really opened my eyes to coaching, mentoring and guiding, communicating effectively and applying change.”

Herrera said as provost, internal and external communication is an integral part of his role.

“It is my duty and goal to always ensure that communication is effective to all parts of our organization so that we all work toward the same mission and goals,” said Herrera. “We’ve experienced a lot of change recently and have been fortunate to have employee support and voices to shed light on new or missed opportunities.”

In addition, Herrera said he will also continue to work hard to remain connected to the community and its industries.

“This type of connection is important to keep our programs relevant and ensure we offer those that are in high demand,” he added. “It’s important that we continue to meet the needs of our community and industry while remaining true to our mission.”

In his role as provost, Herrera will conduct outreach and meet with elected officials, economic development representatives, community and industry leaders and TSTC alumni to find out where TSTC can help and to build partnerships that will help the community grow.

For the past eight years, Herrera said being part of the TSTC family has been a great experience like none other.

“TSTC a different kind of place,” he said. “The family-type atmosphere permeates all around whether you’re an employee or a student.”

Herrera said, by working together, TSTC will continue to support student success and make sure that everyone who steps through the college’s door will be trained and prepared to leave with a new or better-paying job in their field of study.

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Ana EscamillaAna Escamilla is completing her Academic Core at Texas State Technical College. The Rio Hondo native expects to complete her courses Summer 2018.

When the 18-year-old is not busy studying, she is volunteering around campus and her community with the TSTC Service Squad.

Escamilla is also a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), a certification she earned as a junior at Harlingen High School, and has worked in her field as a CNA at Windsor Atrium in Harlingen.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I want to work toward getting into a registered nursing program, and eventually transfer to a local university to get my bachelor’s degree in nursing.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become a neonatal nurse practitioner. My passion in life is helping others and there is nothing better than helping to nurse a person or baby back to good health.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment so far has been having the motivation to enroll in college. I really wanted to take time off to keep working partly because I was afraid of failure. Coming back has been the best decision I could have ever made.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

I have learned the lesson of hard work from my parents. My parents and I have struggled a lot financially, and seeing them work so hard to support me and help my dreams come true means the world to me. Their hard work is my motivation to be successful. It’s going to be my way of paying them back for everything they have done.

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

Steve Guevara, TSTC Veteran Center director, and Jose Villegas, Veteran Center program officer, have had the most influence on my success. My dad is a veteran and I’m using his Hazlewood Act to get an education, and these two men have guided me through the entire paperwork and registration processes.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

The best advice I have for students in general is do not procrastinate. Someone once told me this and from experience procrastination makes life harder. Get things done ahead of time and semesters will not seem as stressful.


TSTC Micronauts Program Explores STEM Education

(HARLINGEN) – Three, two one… lift off. Texas State Technical College’s Micronaut Program at the Challenger Learning Center is launching for its second year in October and is already booking missions.

Yvette Mendoza, TSTC’s coordinator for the Center for Science and Math Education, said this program is about helping elementary-age students increase their understanding and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) fields.

“We want to plant the STEM seed at an early age,” said Mendoza. “This will open their eyes to the many opportunities that are out there for them.”

The Challenger Learning Center hosts flight missions for junior and high school students while the Micronauts Program is open to kindergarten through fourth grade students from across the Rio Grande Valley and beyond.

“We’ve had schools as far as Falfurrias bring their students to our center,” said Mendoza. TSTC Micronauts Program“Teachers believe in the program and how it benefits their students.”

The Micronauts program offers students the opportunity to learn science with hands-on projects such as building circuit boards, experimenting with kinetic sand, magnets and microscopes, and learning about computer coding and the solar system.

Students also get to experience the Challenger space shuttle and TSTC’s planetarium.

“The best part of this program is seeing how excited the children get walking through our building, riding our space shuttle and doing their projects,” said Mendoza. “The enthusiasm in their voices lets us know this program is a success.”

What makes the program popular among teachers and parents is that each lesson is aligned with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) required curriculum and testing.

“Eventually, everything the students learn during Micronauts will be taught by their teachers in class,” said Mendoza.

The program runs on a school-year calendar, beginning in October and ending in May, giving teachers and schools a chance to book their missions at their convenience.

“This is the first step in STEM education,” said Mendoza. “In the past year more than 5,300 students have visited our center and our goal is to enhance the way each of these students thinks about science and related fields.”

To enroll in Micronauts or for more information on how to book a mission call the Challenger Learning Center at 956-364-4125.