Category Archives: Harlingen

Student Success Profile – Arelynn England

(HARLINGEN) – Arelynn EnglandArelynn England is a Biology student at Texas State Technical College. The McAllen native holds a 3.4 grade-point average and expects to earn her associate degree in Fall 2018.

The 20-year-old also stays busy by working as a student orientation leader, volunteering with the Student Government Association and interning with Texas State Representative Oscar Longoria.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan to return to TSTC for the Dental Hygiene program. I hope to work in the field after that and save money for dental school.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become an orthodontist and open a family dental clinic here in the RGV and help the people of my community.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment so far at TSTC has been receiving the internship opportunity with Representative Longoria. It goes to show that my hard work has not gone unnoticed.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is ‘do not quit.’ I’ve closed many doors because I would quit the moment things got hard. But I’ve learned to take every opportunity as a new adventure and make choices that I can be proud of.

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

Larissa Moreno, my former supervisor, has influenced my success the most. She makes hard work fun and helped me gain the confidence I need to believe in myself. She has helped me in more ways than she’ll ever know and has helped me see I can do more that I think I can.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to get involved, be purposeful and diligent. Also, be a good student and work hard because it will get you far.


TSTC Receives Gold-Level Military Friendly School Award

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College prides itself in not only placing more Texans in good paying jobs, but also helping veterans transition to civilian life through education.

It is this mission that has earned TSTC the prestigious Gold-level Military Friendly School Award for 2018.

TSTC in Harlingen has been recognized as a Military Friend School for the eighth straight year, and this is the third year TSTC has received the distinction statewide.

TSTC serves more than 1,100 veterans and their dependents at all 10 campuses across the state.

Harlingen alone serves 337 veterans and veteran dependents.

 “Our veterans and their families have sacrificed so much and TSTC is ready, willing and able to support them and their dependents,” said Interim Provost Rick Herrera. “TSTC is here to take care of our veterans and their families and help them succeed in their educational journey.”

With this award, the college’s military initiatives are being honored for their standard of excellence. The Military Friendly Gold Awards showcases the most powerful and effective programs, meaning TSTC is in the top 20 percent of the institutions ranked within their categories.

Only 541 schools nationwide have been recognized for excellence in different categories which distinguish a college based on the questions: “Are you military friendly?” and “How Military Friendly are you?”

For more than a decade, Military Friendly ratings have set the standard for companies and colleges demonstrating positive employment and education outcomes for veterans and their families.

“All of our Military Friendly award recipients set the standard for excellence,” said Daniel Nichols, chief product officer of Victory Media and head of Military Friendly development.

“They offer exceptional examples of what it means not just to build a program that meets federal requirements, but one that serves the military and veteran community from classrooms to careers.”

TSTC Veteran Center Director Steve Guevara said their goal as a center is to make honoring and serving TSTC student and employee veterans a top priority.

The Veteran Center serves as a centralized, one-stop shop for prospective and current veterans and their dependents. Here, veterans can get assistance with admission, financial aid, GI Bill and Hazlewood applications, in addition to other internal and external services and referrals to ensure a successful college experience.

The Veteran Center also serves as the meeting site for the Veteran Students Alliance Club, a club created to unite all students who have served the nation in any branch of the military during war or peacetime, and to promote a feeling of energy, support, knowledge and excitement to face challenges together.

“I hope TSTC veterans take away a sense of pride knowing that we (TSTC) truly do appreciate the sacrifices they have given during their services in the United States Armed Forces,” said Guevara. “We are committed to providing excellent service and veterans can be assured that TSTC is doing its very best in supporting the needs of veterans and their dependents. It brings me great joy to see my brothers and sisters at arms succeed.”

Guevara added that TSTC Veteran Services is working closely with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to provide services under the Veterans Upward Bound program and Veterans Affairs to bring the Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) program to the TSTC campus in Waco to increase the rate at which veterans graduate.   

For more information on TSTC’s Veteran Center call 956-364-4387.

TSTC Toys for Tots Campaign Brightens Holidays

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College recently hosted a holiday celebration for the families living in TSTC campus housing and the children of TSTC’s Early Head Start and NINOS Head Start programs complete with food, games, gifts and a visit from Santa Claus.

The gifts that were distributed to the children by Santa were donated by TSTC faculty and staff during TSTC’s annual Toys for Tots drive. In all, 176 toys were collected and distributed this year.

TSTC Toys for Tots is an annual tradition hosted by Support Services. TSTC employees have been collecting and distributing toys for close to two decades.

“The families we select for toy distribution have either low incomes or no incomes due to being full-time students at TSTC,” said Patty Flores, ­­­­Support Services coordinator. “Students make sacrifices to better their family, and this can be a difficult financial time for them. We believe their children should still get to experience the joy of opening a gift.”

Student Success Profile – Omar Reyes

(HARLINGEN) – Omar ReyesOmar Reyes is working toward an associate degree at Texas State Technical College in Computer Systems Management Technology. The Raymondville native is expected to graduate in Fall 2018.

When the 19-year-old is not studying or completing lab assignments, he is employed as a work study in the TSTC Talent Management and Career Services office and volunteers with the Intramural Sports Club.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I hope to start working as a computer maintenance technician and save enough money to continue my education and get a bachelor’s degree.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to someday work as an information technology technician with Apple or Samsung.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment while at TSTC has been receiving my very first job as a work study on campus. Plus, as a student it’s convenient to work and study at the same place.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned about myself is my ability to be a leader and have a passion for helping others. I discovered this about myself in my classes because instructors look to me to help other students. Also, in group projects I usually take the lead.

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

My instructor Jesus Herrera has had the greatest influence on my success. I have had him as an instructor every semester and he is always willing to lend a helping hand and answer all of my questions. He is also always willing to share his knowledge and experience with us.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is don’t be afraid to ask for help from others. There is no shame in asking and there are no dumb questions.

TSTC Graduates First Heavy-Duty Diesel Engine Specialist Class

First Heavy Duty Diesel Engine Grads

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College’s Continuing Education Heavy-Duty Diesel Engine Specialist program recently graduated its first group of students.

The four men earned a certification of completion giving them the opportunity to work as diesel engine technicians. They have already found employment with PetroChem Transport, H-E-B, Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District and Ryder Truck Rentals, respectively.

Texas Workforce Solutions Cameron also donated a toolbox and tools to each graduate to use in their new careers.

The graduates are (left to right):  Joseph Wright, David Colunga, Juan Velez and Hector Garibay.

TSTC Food Drive Benefits Students Year-Round

(HARLINGEN) – More than 80 percent of Texas State Technical College students living in housing on the Harlingen campus have been helped by the TSTC Staff Senate food drive since November.

Participation by TSTC staff, faculty, students and the surrounding communities has made the annual drive a success in helping to fight hunger.

“We are so thankful for the help we have received so far,” said Staff Senate President Sharon Foster. “There is no need for a student to struggle with hunger.”

The drive has benefited TSTC’s Charlie’s Pantry, which serves students living on campus, and the Student Center Pantry, which serves students who commute to campus.

Both pantries rely exclusively on donations of food and money received during the drive. Before the drive, both pantries were struggling to keep food in stock.

TSTC Housing Director Yvette Garza said the help they have received from the Staff Senate food drive is appreciated by those running the pantry and the students it serves.TSTC Charlie's Pantry

“We have been able to keep our shelves stocked because of the generosity of the campus and local community,” said Garza. “We all need a little help every now and then, and these students are working so hard to complete their education. If our pantry can help take a small burden off of their shoulders, then we have fulfilled our purpose.”

TSTC Executive Director of Student Life Adele Clinton and Student Life Coordinators Belinda Palomino and Larissa Moreno are also very thankful to the Staff Senate and community members for their donations.

“Student Life and Engagement would like to give a big ‘thank you’ to all those who contributed to the food drive,” said Moreno. “With an average of more than 100 students seen each week, every item donated was stocked and received by our students. Thank you, Staff Senate, TSTC employees and community members, for your continued support.”

Winter Texan Debra Bates, a resident of both Harlingen and Colorado, donated numerous bags of groceries for the drive after reading about TSTC’s previous food drive in the Valley Morning Star.

“My first grandson recently started college. If he was hungry, I would want someone to help him,” she said. “Students have enough to worry about without having to worry about food and being hungry, and it’s awesome that donations like mine are helping these students.”

Monetary donations totaling more than $200 have been made by community members.

“With our efforts we are trying to take care of our students and alleviate their hunger,” said Foster. “We’re here to help them succeed and not have to decide between food, tuition or books.”

Recently Charlie’s Pantry was able to obtain a large freezer to store more foods such as TV dinners.

The hunger problem is not unique to colleges in South Texas. In a study done by Wisconsin HOPE Lab and Feeding America, 50 percent of college students nationwide struggle with not having enough food, with the majority clustered in the low-income, first-generation sector.

Foster added that the students’ needs are such that the food drive will be extended into TSTC’s Spring 2018 semester, although donations are accepted year-round.

The TSTC Staff Senate accepts both food and monetary donations. For more information, call 956-364-4023.

Student Success Profile – Michelle Gibson

(HARLINGEN) – Michelle GibsonMichelle Gibson is a Biology student at Texas State Technical College. The 29-year-old, single mother expects to earn her associate degree in Summer 2018 after serving nearly five years in the United States Navy as a mechanic.

The Los Fresnos native said she has a passion for the medical field and is already a certified medical assistant and hopes to continue growing at TSTC.

Gibson is also the Treasurer for the Veteran Students Alliance Club and participates in community service events with the club.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan on returning to TSTC to apply for the Surgical Technology program and receive my second associate degree.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become a surgical technician and work alongside surgeons in the operating room and maybe someday work in a medical lab doing research on blood samples and diseases.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

I’ve always been a really shy person, so my greatest accomplishment so far at TSTC is becoming treasurer of the Veteran Students Alliance Club and making a difference in the community and making lifelong friends who encourage me every day.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

Although I have learned a lot in my 29 years, I feel that with life’s unpredictability I am learning new things every day, even as a mother. I just keep an open mind, go with the flow and learn along the way. There are no right answers in life.

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

There are a couple of people who have really made a difference. The first one is TSTC Psychology Instructor Frank Coronado. I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression and as a veteran himself he has helped me understand my condition so I can better control it  and succeed in the classroom. Second, is Jose Villegas. He has been my guide from the beginning. He helps me complete all of my benefits paper work and is always there to lend a hand or a listening ear.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to always keep going and work to better yourself. No matter how hard the journey gets, keep going and don’t doubt yourself. Believing in yourself is the first step toward success.


TSTC Grad Continues Nursing Legacy

(HARLINGEN) – Kairo Castillo will join his family’s legacy of nursing tonight when he earns his certification in Vocational Nursing during Texas State Technical College’s commencement ceremony at the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium.

“I still can’t believe that I’m about to graduate. I’m so excited,” he said. “It won’t become real until I put on my cap and gown.”

The 21-year-old and at least 300 other TSTC students will earn certificates or associate degrees and join an alumni network made up of more than 100,000 graduates statewide.

“Nursing is in my blood,” said the Harlingen native. “It was always the plan for me.”

Castillo’s parents are nurses and he has personally seen the positive impacts nursing has on a family.

“My parents went to college late in life and survived the rigors of a nursing program to better our family,” he said. “If they could do it, so could I.”

Castillo’s family struggled financially before nursing became a part of their lives. The family of four lived in a one-bedroom apartment and at times with his grandparents. They never had a permanent place to call home.Kairo Castillo

“My sister and I vowed that we would get an education early, and that’s what I’m doing,” he said. “We both saw how education got us out of poverty, and now I’m working toward a career that will benefit me and my future family.”

Although Castillo still needs to pass the National Council Licensure Examination, he said he is excited and prepared to enter the workforce.

“I’m not going to lie. The program has been challenging and there were days I wanted to give up,” said Castillo. “But all of the instructors at TSTC know how to motivate and encourage you to keep going. They really do want to see us succeed in our exam and out in the field.”

He added that the best part of the program was the hands-on experience he received in the classroom and during clinicals.

“I’m not the same kid I was when I entered. This program really prepares you and matures you,” said Castillo. “The bar is set high for nursing students, and TSTC prepares us for the real world.”

Castillo said he wants to thank his instructors for their open-door policies and always offering the support he needed during his journey. It is because of his positive experience in the program that he hopes to return to TSTC to pursue registered nursing.

Castillo added, “Not only were my parents there to push me, but so was the faculty. That’s rare, but I’m glad they were there. I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

In the new year, Castillo hopes to find a full-time nursing position at a local outpatient clinic or acute care hospital.

“I love helping people, and nursing is my way of doing that,” he said. “I want to help others be the best they can be physically, emotionally and mentally. At the end of the day, that’s all I want.”

TSTC’s Commencement Ceremony is Friday, Dec. 15, at 6 p.m. at the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium.

For more information on TSTC and its programs, visit

TSTC Helps Grad Design her Future

(HARLINGEN) – After taking a year off from college to help her family pay the bills and save for tuition, Rachel Avila finally earned her associate degree in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics during Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2017 commencement ceremony Friday night at the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium.

Too add to the celebration, the 25-year-old also started her new career earlier in the week before with SpawGlass, a construction company, as a Logistics Coordinator reviewing floor plans and blue prints.

“Everything that is happening is so surreal,” said Avila. “I never saw myself in a cap and gown and starting a career. I can’t believe so many good things are happening.”

The San Juan native is a first-generation college graduate whose family has struggled to make ends meet for most of her life, yet they managed to pay for college out of pocket.

“I was lost before TSTC,” she said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do or what my passion was. All I knew is that I wanted to break the cycle of poverty and education was my answer. I had to achieve it no matter what.”Rachel Avila

Avila is the second oldest of five siblings and said she hopes that her new-found success serves as a reminder and inspiration to her younger brothers and sisters that a college education is important and that anything is possible.

“My parents have always depended on us to work, but in my mind I knew there was more to life than just dead-end jobs that pay minimum wage,” said Avila. “I wanted to get ahead for myself and for my family and I feel that TSTC has made that possible.”

TSTC alumnus and commencement speaker Dr. Juan Mejia, provost and vice president for Academic and Student Affairs at Tyler Junior College and 2017 recipient of the Nelson Award from the Texas Association of Community Colleges, addressed the close to 300 graduates and shared that it was TSTC that shaped his future.

“Today is a day of celebration for the entire college community and the students graduating are the signature of authenticity of a job well done,” said Mejia. “It is because of TSTC that I was able to fast track towards gainful employment, and it is because of great faculty and staff that I found my calling to pursue a career in education.”

As for Avila, she said she will work and gain experience before returning to TSTC’s University Center to earn a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M-Kingsville in Architectural Engineering.

She added she will also help support her family and save money again for tuition and a reliable car.

“I’ve commuted from San Juan to Harlingen these past couple of years afraid that my car was going to die,” she said. “It’s time to find one that will get me from home to work with no problem.”

Avila added, “It’s been a journey and TSTC has helped me grow up, find myself and find my dream. I want to thank everyone who welcomed me on campus and helped me and my family get ahead in life.”

Registration for Spring 2018 is underway. The last day to register is January 2.

For more information on TSTC and its programs or to apply and register, visit

Student Success Profile – Daniel Gonzalez

(HARLINGEN) – Daniel Gonzalez’s journey at Texas State Technical College began his junior year of high school when he started taking college classes to complete his Academic Core by his high school graduation in 2016.

The 19-year-old, Mercedes native is now a Business Management Technology student at TSTC and expects to earn his associate degree in December 2018.Daniel Gonzalez

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan on returning to TSTC’s University Center to get a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

What’s your dream job?

At the moment my dad has side welding and yard-cutting businesses and I help him with the customers, so I feel that with my education and this experience I will someday be ready to open my own business.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment so far has been earning my first perfect 4.0 grade-point average a couple of semesters back. This opened my eyes and made me realize that I can accomplish more than I think I can.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is that life is too short to hold on to grudges and that we should work toward forgiving and forgetting. A wise veteran and friend shared this wisdom with me before he passed  away a couple of years ago and I’ve carried it with me since.

Who at TSTC has influenced your success the most at TSTC?

The person at TSTC who has influenced my success the most is Esmeralda Cisneros, textbook representative and cashier at the bookstore. She is always there to lend a hand and she does it with a smile. She is also a great listener, encourager and motivator. I consider her a friend.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to never give up, always keep trying. At the end of everything you will benefit from your hard work.