TSTC Student Q&A with Jessica Ogden of Hico

(WACO) – Jessica Ogden, 20, of Hico is an Aircraft Pilot Training major at Texas State Technical College in Waco.

She is captain of the technical college’s Tornadoes Flight Team, which recently competed in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s Region 4 SAFECON contest hosted in Waco. She was a member of TSTC’s all-women Air Race Classic team that competed nationwide in 2016. Ogden is scheduled to graduate in December with an associate degree.

She graduated in 2015 from Hico High School.

How did you become interested in aviation? “My grandfather had a family friend who was a pilot in the Korean War. He had a Cessna and took me for a ride in it when I was 6. From then on I knew I wanted to be in aviation.”

How did you learn about TSTC? “I came here with a friend as he was visiting the Diesel Equipment Technology program. That is when I found out about the aviation programs and I saw the building (the Col. James T. Connally Aerospace Center). I am the first in my family to study aviation.”

What is something you have learned along the way that would be good for high school students to know? “You need to be confident. The moment you are not confident in your abilities, that’s the moment you fail.”

What are your plans after graduating from TSTC? “I have interviewed with TSTC and hope to be a flight instructor. I’ll also work on more flight ratings through the technical college and get my bachelor’s degree.”

There were more than 39,000 female pilots in the United States as of December 2016, according to Federal Aviation Administration data cited by Women in Aviation International.

Texas State Technical College offers the Associate of Applied Science degree in Aircraft Pilot Training and Aircraft Pilot Training – Helicopter Specialization. There is also an option to earn a Certificate in Aircraft Pilot Technology Commercial Pilot – Helicopter.

For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.


Student Success Profile – Oliver Diaz

(HARLINGEN) – Oliver DiazWorking full time to pay for school and being a part-time student has been a challenge for Texas State Technical College Culinary Arts student Oliver Diaz, yet he still holds a 3.0 grade-point average.

The 22-year-old, Mercedes native said as a child and even now he is fascinated by the culinary world and combined with his love for food, he knew TSTC’s Culinary Arts program was the right fit for him.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate with my associate degree I plan on returning to TSTC to pursue Business Management Technology.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to open a restaurant/catering business. It’s a long way from my original dream of becoming an architect, but I’m excited for my future in the culinary industry, it’s where I’m meant to be.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment was simply starting college to pursue a degree. After high school I worked immediately to help my parents and save money for college. I liked working so much that college wasn’t even in the picture, but with encouragement from my girlfriend, here I am.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lessons I have learned are patience and endurance. Patience because I know as a part-time student it’s going to take me longer to finish and endurance to keep going.

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

My girlfriend and TSTC student and Orientation Student Leader Yajaira Gonzalez is my greatest influence. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here. I admire her for all of her success and it makes me want to become a better person for her. She pushes me to keep going and is my support.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to not fall under pressure, be patient and stay focused.


TSTC Volunteers Create Dog Toys for Shelter Animals

(HUTTO) – Students at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center made chew toys for dogs last week as part of a volunteer event for Make a Difference Day.

Make a Difference Day is one of the largest annual days of service nationwide. The day aims to improve the lives of others, and Texas State Technical College hosted the event for students to give back to the community.

TSTC was able to donate 53 dog toys to the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter.

“It’s a win-win, as students were treated to a service project and food and we provided a valuable service to a community partner,” said TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla. “We are proud to have that component as part of our mission at TSTC.”

Adele Clinton, TSTC’s Executive Director of Student Life, said students have shown an interest in service projects over the last few years.

“They love it,” Clinton said. “When the students engage in community service, they’re learning communication skills, teamwork skills, conflict resolution, and they’re getting TSTC’s name out to communities who may not know that we’re right in their backyards. It’s also teaching students that volunteerism has been so much fun.”

TSTC began participating in Make a Difference Day at the Harlingen campus in 2008 but has recently added the volunteer projects at its other campuses.

“Since I became a state lead and TSTC became one, we’ve taken it statewide and our numbers have increased exponentially ever since,” Clinton said.

Padilla said he hopes to continue these types of projects at the school.

“At TSTC, we understand that our success depends on the support and viability of our local communities,” said Padilla. “We believe in service and understand that we’re part of a business community that is vibrant and interconnected. It’s our goal to continue to grow by cultivating relationships and showing that we care, and I’m exceptionally proud to be part of a team that takes so much pride in doing so.”

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


90 Employers Visit TSTC for Industry Career Day

(WACO) – More than 90 employers visited Texas State Technical College Thursday for its annual Industry Career Day event, with nearly 650 job-seeking students in attendance.

Kacey Darnell, executive director of Talent Management and Career Services at TSTC, said the event gives students a chance to get to know employers.

“Industry Career Day gives employers a chance to show off their company,and it gives the students a chance to get a really great job,” Darnell said. “A lot of times students don’t know what kind of jobs companies offer. Last spring we had an Avionics student who came to Industry Career Day and ended up working for a company called True North Marine repairing the sonar equipment on the marine boats. It’s something that aligns but is totally different than what he was expecting, and he’s done really well.”

One company in attendance, the cosmetics company Mary Kay, has participated in TSTC’s Industry Career Day for five years. The company, which manufactures its own products, hires graduates to work on their production equipment.

“We currently offer an internship to hire, which is basically a 90-day probation period where they’re truly doing packaging mechanic work,” said Mary Kay associate HR business partner Nelissa Croach. “They do preventative maintenance and run their own lines, making sure the speed of the line is accurate. Some of the machines go 30 products a minute, where others are 137 products a minute. They have to make sure they’re able to program the machines to do those things. Also if there’s a jam, they have to figure it out and get it going.”

Croach said TSTC’s training aligns well with the knowledge of their longtime employees.

“A lot of the people we have there have been there for 20 plus years and haven’t been recently trained on the new technology,” she said. “So we have these guys coming in along with our long-term employees, and together it works out really well.”

Joe Razza, regional recruiter at Crown Lift Trucks, said the company often visits TSTC’s campuses to recruit those with electronics and mechanical backgrounds.

“We take those skills, hone them and put them through training to apply that to our technology,” Razza said. “We’ve had great success, and the caliber of students is great as well. The students, as far as professionalism goes, the questions they ask, how they present themselves and their knowledge base is off the charts.”

Darnell said she often sees TSTC alumni coming back to recruit.

“We have a lot of alumni representing their companies here,” she said. “They know the training they got from TSTC, and they know they can find skilled workers here.”

Sean Shannon, an Industrial Maintenance student who graduates in December, said this is his third Industry Career Day with TSTC.

“I ran out of resumes,” he said. “I had an on-the-spot interview, so it’s looking good. This is the biggest one I’ve been to. I think they’re going to run out of room here soon!”

Part of TSTC’s mission is to meet the workforce needs of Texas, and the college places a high importance on placing students and graduates in jobs. For more information on Texas State Technical College and the college’s placement efforts, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Honors Former Texas Representative with Building Dedication

(RED OAK) – The work that James R. “Jim” Pitts did while a member of the Texas House of Representatives is solidified for future students that walk through the building now bearing his name at Texas State Technical College in North Texas.

The Jim Pitts Industrial Technology Center was formally dedicated Thursday morning at a plaque unveiling ceremony attended by Waxahachie and Ellis County leaders along with TSTC administrators and staff members.

Pitts said he appreciated the honor and that TSTC in North Texas is in a great location in proximity to the Dallas – Fort Worth area.

“I’m thrilled to see something you dreamed about become a reality,” Pitts said.

Pitts was a Republican member of the state House of Representatives representing House District 10 from 1993 to 2015 and was chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations. He was named one of the state’s 10 Best Legislators by Texas Monthly magazine in 2005, 2009 and 2013.

“I miss the legislature and I miss doing good things for Ellis County,” Pitts said.

TSTC Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Mike Reeser said he first met Pitts during the 2013 Texas legislative session. Pitts told him he had a goal of bringing technical education to the county’s residents to become contributing members of the workforce.

During the session, Pitts introduced legislation that was sponsored by Sen. Brian Birdwell authorizing the creation of a TSTC extension center in Ellis County. The extension center evolved in less than a year into today’s stand-alone campus. After a land deal with the Red Oak Independent School District, the building on North Lowrance Road formally opened in October 2014 and now houses the technical college’s 10 programs.

“He is your neighbor,” Reeser told ceremony attendees. “You had a guy who went to Austin and fought for your best interests in Ellis County.”

Pitts is a former member of the Waxahachie Independent School District Board of Trustees. He is an attorney and owner of Ellis County Abstract and Title Company in Waxahachie.

After the ceremony, The TSTC Foundation hosted a luncheon and visitors took building tours.

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


TSTC Culinary Arts Student Awarded James Beard Foundation Scholarship

(ABILENE) – Matthew Kepner, a first-semester Culinary Arts student at Texas State Technical College in Abilene, was selected to receive a $10,000 scholarship from the James Beard Foundation.

The James Beard Foundation’s scholarship program, which was established in 1991, assists aspiring and established culinary professionals further their education at accredited culinary schools or hospitality institutions, colleges and universities. In 2016 the foundation awarded over $7 million in financial aid to more than 1,850 recipients.

Beard was a culinary pioneer and hosted the first TV food program in 1946. Also a chef, cookbook author and teacher, Beard was dubbed the “Dean of American cookery” by the New York Times.

Kepner applied for the scholarship after finding the information online, and he was excited to find out he was selected.

“I was at work when my mom got the mail,” he said. “She called me crying. It was really exciting.”

So far, the scholarship has helped Kepner in school.

“It’s really helped me with books, paying for classes and registering for everything,” Kepner said. “It helped get me supplies like notebooks, pencils and things I need like that.”

Culinary Arts instructor and chef Kayleen Moon said she sees a bright future for Kepner.

“The prepared ones are the ones that do well,” she said. “He was one of those. He started emailing me long before any of the actual paperwork to get into the school.”

She said Kepner’s cooking experience outside of school will help him succeed.

“He’s worked hard for what he has,” Moon said. “He has experience, actual chef experience in a kitchen. He knows actual culinary terms, not just ‘home kitchen words.’ When I say things like ‘depouillage,’ he knows what it means. He’s already coming in gifted and experienced.”

Kepner will graduate in 2019 and hopes to find a job working on an offshore oil rig or in Alaska.

“Since those jobs are two weeks on, two weeks off, on my two weeks off I’d like to travel abroad to learn about other cultures’ cooking and hopefully study under some other chefs,” he said.

Authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine are Kepner’s favorite foods to cook.

“I love the culture and history around Mexican food and Tex-Mex,” he said. “I learned a lot from my neighbors who are from Mexico. They’ve taught me about cooking meat underground and stuff like that and cooking for hours and hours at a time. I just love the smells; they’re the best thing in the world to me.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College and the Culinary Arts program, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Hosts Annual Industry Job Fair

(HARLINGEN) – Jose Luis Barajas got up from his interview chair excited and nervous, yet confident about how well it all went during his on-site interview at Texas State Technical College’s Industry Job Fair.

The Biomedical Equipment Technology student will graduate with his associate degree in December and had the opportunity to interview with Baylor White and Scott Health, the largest not-for-profit health care system in Texas and the largest in the United States, for a Biomedical Technician position he has his eye on.

“The job fair has been a great opportunity for me and many others to visit and interview with recruiters we may never get to speak with otherwise,” said Barajas. “I’m really interested in Baylor White and Scott and I was told I would be recommended for the job, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

Barajas was one of more than 400 TSTC students and alumni who attended the job fair hosted by TSTC’s Talent Management and Career Services department.TSTC Industry Job Fair

TSTC Director of Talent Management and Career Services Viviana Espinosa said the main goal of the event 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 want our students and graduates to build their confidence when speaking with employers,” said Espinosa. “Ultimately, the more confidence they gain the better they’ll do in interviews and the sooner they’ll start their careers.”

Espinosa added that there were several job offers made at the event with many employers staying after to tour the programs and continue speaking with students.

At least 40 employers such as Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas, Cleaver-Brooks Sales and Service, Koenig and Bauer, Air Force Civilian Service, Texas Instruments, SpawGlass and Valley Baptist Medical Center were on hand to speak with students and alumni about job opportunities, accept resumes and conduct on-site interviews.

Christian Robertson, a human resource partner with Plastipak Packaging Inc., a global producer of plastic containers, said although the goal of the event is to help students, it also helps him tremendously as an employer.

“It’s difficult finding skilled employees and here at TSTC I know I’ll find highly-qualified students or graduates to hire,” said Robertson. “They have the desirable skill set we need for our company and we’re ready to hire.”

Espinosa said overall, the job fair was a success with a lot of positive feedback from students and employers alike.

“Employers were very impressed with our students,” she said. “Many will even be returning for our spring job fair, other recruitment events and program tours. This is exciting for us and for our students.”

TSTC will host its second Industry Job Fair on April 5 next year.

For more information on student, alumni and industry services offered by TSTC’s Talent Management and Career Services, call 956-364-4940.

TSTC’s New Program Offers Student a New Life

(FORT BEND) – Jerry Nieto is one of the first students in Electrical Power and Controls, a program in its first semester at the Texas State Technical College Fort Bend County campus.

Originally from Brownsville, Nieto first enrolled at the TSTC Harlingen campus in 2001 to pursue an associate degree in what was then Drafting and Design Technology.

Although he completed his classes and the job offers flooded in, Nieto never registered for graduation and never received his associate degree. Immediately after this he moved to New York with his sisters and never looked back.

“I sometimes wish I could turn back time and give my young self a pep talk,” said Nieto. “I don’t know what I was thinking back then. I could have had a stable, good-paying career. But I can only move forward now.”

Life altogether has not been bad for Nieto. He held onto a successful car sales job In New York before moving to Houston and going into business with his father-in-law. However, neither gig was something he could see himself doing long-term.

So, after nine years, Nieto and his father-in-law sold their fiber-optic cable business and Nieto started making calls to TSTC’s Harlingen campus wondering if it was too late to get his associate degree.TSTC EPC Student Jerry Nieto

“Time moves on and things change, but I figured it was worth the try,” he said.

Well, with nearly a decade gone by, some of Nieto’s credits didn’t count anymore and he would have to take new classes. Basically, starting all over.

“TSTC was great to me once, so I knew if I was going to start anywhere, it was going to be at TSTC,” said Nieto. “Lucky for me the Fort Bend County campus opened, because I am back.”

Barely reaching the halfway point in his first semester, Nieto said the Electrical Power and Control program is already exceeding his expectations.

“I’m a husband and father now with a different mindset,” he said. “I’m ready to learn. I understand the importance of an education and I’m ready for a new career.”

Nieto added he now understands the importance an education can have on his life and the opportunities TSTC provides for its students.

“Not only are classes hands-on, but our instructors are leaders in industry with extensive experience,” said Nieto. “That has to be appreciated, because that’s what gets students far.”

TSTC Electrical Power and Control Instructor Jonathan Bonkoske spent more than 30 years in the industry working in power distribution, electrical power and motor research and design.

In August, he made the jump to teaching to share his knowledge with students like Nieto and to help give them insight into the industry.

“Nieto is one of my students who I know has life experience and is eager to learn,” said Bonkoske. “I know it’s early into the semester, but seeing him work hard and jumping into his projects like he is, lets me know that he has a bright future. He has all of the qualities an employer looks for.”

Bonkoske said his goal is to share his experience with all of his students and teach them the hands-on skills they need to be placed in a good-paying job that will help build their career.

And as for Nieto, he said his goal is to learn as much as he can from Bonkoske and his peers, graduate with his associate degree and find a career that will help him support his family.

“This time around I’m taking advantage of everything TSTC has to offer me and I’m going to make the most of it,” he said. “I know they’ll give me the confidence I need to be one of the best in the industry.”

Electrical Power and Controls is also offered at TSTC’s North Texas and Waco campuses. For more information visit, tstc.edu.

TSTC STEM Day Inspires Non-traditional Career Paths

(HARLINGEN) – Bertha Rivera, a senior at Santa Rosa High School, put on safety glasses to hammer, staple and build a toolbox and birdhouse during her Building Construction Technology tour at Texas State Technical College’s Diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Day.

The 17-year-old joined at least 90 other high school students from across the Rio Grande Valley at the day-long event hosted by TSTC Advisement and Recruitment to expose girls to careers in non-traditional fields.

“The event was a lot of fun. My favorite part was getting to build things,” said Rivera. “And the best part was I got to take my creations home as a keepsake.”

Rivera said STEM Day was inspirational and it has motivated her to apply at TSTC to pursue an associate degree in Engineering after she graduates in May.TSTC Diversity in STEM Day

In addition to Building Construction Technology, students toured Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics, Automotive Technology, Biomedical Equipment Technology, Chemical Technology and Precision Manufacturing Technology.

Anna Cortez, TSTC success coach, said STEM Day focuses on encouraging girls and women to pursue male-dominated professions by giving them the opportunity to experience programs hands-on and hear from women already paving the way.

“I hope students take away a sense of empowerment,” said Cortez. “I hope they feel and know that they can pursue and achieve anything they want and set their minds to.”

That was the same message keynote speakers, TSTC Building Construction Technology student Susanna Sierra and TSTC alumna and Applications Engineer Tommie Erica Ponce, wanted students to take away.

“Continue your education don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it,” said Sierra. “Because as long as you have the mindset you can do anything. Don’t give up on your dream. Show people what you’ve got.”

Cortez said one of the biggest obstacles for girls and women is following a non-traditional career path where there is no one to turn to for guidance or advice and that is why STEM Day is so important.

“STEM Day gives students, both male and female, an outlet to explore, discover and ask questions,” she said. “Many of our instructors and speakers are leaders in their industry and can serve as role models for these students.”

At the end of the day students were also treated to a Non-traditional Program Expo with TSTC instructors and students showcasing their technologies and answering questions.

For more information on the technologies offered at TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Host Third Annual Counselor Update

(FORT BEND) – More than 70 high school counselors from across the Gulf Coast region, as far away as Goliad, attended Texas State Technical College’s Third Annual Counselor Update at its Fort Bend County campus on Friday.

The half-day program offered counselors a first-hand look into the technologies and services TSTC has to offer with a tour of the campus, including its newest building, the Brazos Center.

TSTC Director of Recruitment Dora Colvin said the goal of the update is to educate counselors on the importance of a technical education and what TSTC has to offer Fort Bend County and surrounding areas with its new campus.

“We are a fully accredited technical institution with passionate staff and faculty ready to provide an education that leads to a successful career,” said Colvin. “And we need the counselors to help us by taking information back to their students and parents about our campus and programs, so they can make an informed decision.”

3rd Annual TSTC Counselor Update

Throughout the day counselors were introduced to TSTC’s recruitment team, programs, certification and degree plans, admission processes and student eligibility requirements.

And TSTC Admissions, Dual Enrollment and Financial Aid set up resource tables for the counselors to visit with representatives from each department.

Madalina Noth, a counselor at Hastings High School from outside Houston said this is her second year participating in TSTC’s Counselor Update because she loved it so much the first time she decided to return.

“This is an excellent event that many of us look forward to,” she said. “A lot of my students have enrolled at TSTC and what they are doing for our area is great. I believe in the power of a technical education and what TSTC has to offer.”

Counselors were also treated to a lunch catered by TSTC Culinary Arts graduate Ben Pustejovsky, owner of the popular Ben’s Chuckwagon in Wallis, Texas.

Other activities included a student and departmental faculty lead panel representing the 10 programs offered at the campus with a question and answer session for the counselors.

“I’ve been working closely with TSTC for some time now and what I love is the passion that everyone on campus exudes. You can tell they love what they do and that’s how I know it’s an excellent place to send my students,” said Noth.

TSTC Student Recruitment Coordinator Marigold Sagrado said she hopes this update will give counselors a better understanding of what TSTC offers and will establish a long-term collaboration between TSTC and the surrounding school districts.

“We want to continue growing our partnerships in the area so that we can serve our community the best way we can, and that is to provide the technical training needed to helps students succeed and place more Texans, she said.

Colvin added that the she is thankful for what counselors do every day for their students and the college.

“Many times these counselors encourage students to enroll at TSTC, but most of all to go to college in general,” she said. “They do a lot and we appreciate them.”

For more information on the programs offered at TSTC, visit tstc.edu.