TSTC Mechatronics Technology Helps Student Gain Confidence

(HARLINGEN) – The first week of the Fall 2017 semester is in full swing at Texas State Technical College, and students like Mechatronics Technology major Rogelio Salas Vento are happy to be back.

Vento said he is excited about this semester because he has finally found a career path that is right for him and also a therapeutic escape.

The 30-year-old La Feria native is an Army veteran. During his five-year service as an infantryman he was deployed for 13 months to Afghanistan, where he sustained a traumatic brain injury after an explosion.

In addition to the brain injury, Vento suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and experiences occasional panic attacks, which led him to choose Mechatronics Technology.

“This is a very hands-on program, which helps me relax and stay calm,” said Vento. “The class sizes are also small and bearable for me. Too many people put me in a panic.”

When he first enrolled at TSTC after being medically discharged from the Army, Vento signed up to pursue an associate degree in biology. But the class size was too much for him to handle.

“I couldn’t sit in class without panicking,” he recalls. “I couldn’t focus, and it was discouraging because I really wanted an education. I want to make something of myself for my wife and children.”Rogelio Vento

It was TSTC advisors and instructors like Mechatronics Lead Instructor Rolando Leija that helped Vento explore other career options.

The TSTC Veteran Center also has services available for veteran students and their dependents who are dealing with PTSD or other conditions through internal resources such as TSTC Support Services and external resources like the VA Clinic, Tropical Texas Behavioral Health and veteran-led peer-to-peer support groups.

“At the Veteran Center our goal is to have students succeed,” said Veteran Center Director Steve Guevara. “We’re here to work at getting students the resources they need. We’re here to help.”

The Veteran Center serves as a centralized department that assists with advisement and GI Bill, Hazlewood Act and scholarship applications. It also provides computer lab access and tutoring.

“Everyone was so helpful and empathetic to my issue, and for that I am thankful,” said Vento. “I’m now in a program I love, I’m looking forward to my future career and my confidence level in myself has increased.”

Vento is now looking toward a future with job opportunities at places such as Toyota, American Electric Power, Oncor utilities and manufacturer Toyotetsu North America as a field service technician, maintenance technician, electronic technician or engineering technician.

Leija said Vento is a great student and that a degree in mechatronics will open doors of opportunity for him and his classmates.

Students in the program will learn a broad range of skills including electronics, mechanics, robotics, instrumentation and computer control systems.

The program has a 90-percent job placement rate.

“I call the students in our program ‘Jacks of all trades,’” he said. “The demand for a trained workforce is high in this field, and this degree can take them anywhere.”

For more information on Mechatronics Technology or on the Veteran Center, visit tstc.edu.

Dual Credit Classes Put a Spark Into TSTC Student’s Education

(WACO) – Noli Park of Bosqueville first became interested in welding when she was a sophomore at Bosqueville High School.

While she balanced high school academics and extracurricular activities, she took the same welding classes that Texas State Technical College students experienced. The difference was that Park took them at the high school with her TSTC-accredited instructor for dual credit.

“Dual credit gets you a foot in,” said Park, 19. “By the time I graduated, I took 12 semester credit hours, and not just in welding. It made coming to college easier.”

Bosqueville High School has about 200 students, with at least 35 sophomores, juniors and seniors taking part in dual credit academic classes. Kim Granger, a BHS counselor, said some of the classes students take are English, history and government.

Park said TSTC was the best decision she could have made about where to go to college.

“I do a lot more hands-on work,” she said. “It gets you ready for the job life. Here, they want us ready for jobs and to be on time and work hard.”

Park grew up around equipment as her father worked on heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. She said tungsten inert gas, or TIG, welding is her favorite.

“I just really like welding,” she said. “I did it to have steadier hands. I originally wanted to be a surgeon.”

Park credits her welding work with being able to get scholarships from the Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Park graduated in 2016 from Bosqueville High School and is scheduled to graduate in December from TSTC with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology.

After graduation, Park wants to work in the field and then teach welding to high school students. She wants to stay in Central Texas to be close to her family.

TSTC’s Waco, Williamson County and North Texas campuses offer more than 20 technical pathways, including Auto Collision Refinishing, Avionics and Electrical Lineworker, that students can take to earn dual credit hours. The classes can be taken either at TSTC or at the students’ home campuses.

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

TSTC in Fort Bend County Holds Inaugural Commencement Ceremony

(FORT BEND) – Texas State Technical College’s commencement ceremony held Tuesday at the Rosenberg Civic Center was a celebration of many firsts for the college and for Precision Machining Technology student Eleazar Alanis Dorantes.

“You are the first graduating class of this newly created Fort Bend campus,” said Randall Wooten, TSTC vice chancellor and chief execution officer. “Tonight as you walk across this stage, many of you will become the first to graduate in your families.”

Which happens to be the case for Dorantes.

The 20-year-old Mexican native moved to the United States four years ago with his family and siblings and is a first-generation college graduate.

He received his certificate Tuesday night in Precision Machining Technology and was named one of only four Board of Regent honor graduates for his perfect 4.0 GPA (grade-point average).

“Graduating feels great. I can’t believe I’m finally here,” said Dorantes. “It’s exciting and it shows that all of my hard work paid off.”

Despite a slight language barrier and a daily 45-minute drive to and from school, Dorantes persevered.Eleazar Dorantes

“I’m proud of what I have accomplished,” said Dorantes. “I hope I’m setting a good example for my brothers and sisters and that this encourages them to continue their education. If I can do it, so can they.”

Dorantes’ mother Guadalupe Dorantes said she is very proud of her son. From a small machine shop in Mexico as a helper and a runner to a college graduate, she said he has come a long way.

“Since kindergarten he would tell me he was going to graduate from college. And here he is,” she said. “I am so proud of him. He is a great kid and it makes me happy seeing him work so hard and achieve everything he sets his mind to.”

Tuesday night’s commencement ceremony marked yet another milestone for the TSTC legacy and TSTC Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Mike Reeser had three important pieces of advice for the college’s graduates.

“Keep up with changes and reinvent yourself, stay true to principles and be someone your employers will treasure,” he said. “You want to be the person with world-class skills and be the someone they want.”

Other speakers included Master of Ceremonies and TSTC Field Development Officer John Kennedy and TSTC Board of Regent Joe Gurecky, a product of technical education.

“A technical education can change hundreds, even thousands of lives, the way it did for my wife and me,” he told graduates.

He spoke of his past from having to choose to pay rent or feed their children and about their found success.

“We took a risk starting our business, the way many of your took a risk coming back to school, but with hard work you find success,” he said. “Speaking of hard work, I have a Czech proverb I use often: Bez Prace-Nej su Kolache — Without work there are no kolaches.”

The night ended with faculty lining the aisle and giving every graduate a high-five, handshake and a hug.

And as for Dorantes, he will return to TSTC in the fall to begin his journey to obtain an associate degree.

TSTC Graduates and Families Celebrate Together

(HARLINGEN) – Last night nearly 400 students earned their certificates or associate degrees during Texas State Technical College’s commencement ceremonies at the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium.

Interim Provost Rick Herrera reminded those in their caps and gowns that the night was possible because of great ambition, sacrifice and commitment.

“In the words of American hero Cesar Chavez, ‘Si se puede,’” said Herrera. “I urge you to take this time on this day to remember that you stand on the shoulders of many who have paved the way for you. Do not take this day for granted.”

Business Management Technology graduate Elisa Ashraf earned her associate degree and said she credits and gives thanks every day for her husband and his endless support in helping her pave her educational path.TSTC Summer 2017 Commencement

“He has supported me in every way possible just so I could stay focused and achieve this goal,” said Ashraf. “It took a lot of late nights and a lot of coffee, but he never left my side.”

The 30-year-old Raymondville native will return to TSTC’s University Center to pursue a bachelor’s degree from Wayland University in either Human Resources or Business Management.

For Welding Technology student Gumaro Castellano, this was a night to remember because the weekends spent working for gas money and tools and the 45-minute drive every day from McAllen finally paid off.

“This is another accomplishment in my book of life,” he said. “I hope I’ve made and keep making my family proud.”

The 20-year-old McAllen native earned his certificate in Welding Technology and said commencement speaker Patt Hobbs’ address really resonated with him.

“He told us that attitude is everything, and I firmly believe that,” he said. “It’s a good attitude that has given me so many opportunities, and I always keep that in mind.”

Hobbs serves as the executive director of Workforce Solutions Cameron and has devoted almost four decades to higher education, including 20 years at TSTC as the former provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

“We desperately need more TSTC graduates for our workforce,” he told the graduates and their families and friends. “You will be in high demand and have a definite advantage in seeking employment over other applicants because of your TSTC certificate or degree.”

He added that these students made the right choice in choosing TSTC and gave them some work ethic hints before they moved their tassels to the left.

From aptitude, attitude and responsibility to communication, critical thinking and problem-solving, Hobbs advised each graduate always to take these skills seriously.

“I hope you take the tips I have given you to the world of work,” said Hobbs. “We really do want you to succeed and if nothing else remember this: take care of your job and your job will take care of you. And please be kind to all you meet.”

TSTC’s commencement ceremonies mark the moment a student goes from candidate to graduate to TSTC alumnus, joining the network of more than 100,000 TSTC graduates.

Student Success Profile – Kevin Sauceda

(HARLINGEN) – Kevin Sauceda is a Digital Media Design student at Texas State Technical College. The Brownsville native is expected to earn his associate degree Summer 2018 and currently holds a 3.2 grade-point average.Kevin Sauceda

When the 23-year-old is not busy studying or finishing projects in the graphic design and video editing labs he works as a work-study with the Talent Management and Career Services office. He is also vocalist for a local band.

Sauceda began his college career at the University of Texas at Brownsville as a vocal major, but soon realized he needed to find a career with stability and transferred to TSTC, where he said he found his place.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan on moving to San Antonio or Austin and hope to find a job at an advertising agency where I can work as a video editor. In the near future I also hope to earn a bachelor’s degree in filmmaking.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to be a touring musician and get paid good money, but realistically it may not happen and that is why I came to TSTC – to find a steady career and good-paying job in something that I have always loved.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment while at TSTC has been working at Career Services and helping students find jobs after they graduate. I love getting the thank you phone calls after they get a job. It makes me feel like I have made a difference in someone’s life.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lessons I have learned are about time management and punctuality, and I learned that here at TSTC. Our instructors instill in us to treat our class and our projects as we would a job, so that means being on time and meeting all deadlines. This is preparing and helping me in more ways than they will ever know.

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

The person who has had the greatest influence on my success is Jimmy Villarreal, one of my Digital Media Design instructors. He is always guiding me and giving me advice on classes, projects and my future. He helps me better understand the programs we use and truly cares about my success. He gives me hope in believing I can do whatever I set my mind to.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

Don’t be afraid to try different things or of change. Follow your heart to what you love and have a passion for, and no matter where you are in life that will help you find your place, the way I found myself at TSTC.

TSTC Employee Spotlight: Jesse Hernandez

(HARLINGEN) – Jesse Hernandez is known by faculty and staff at Texas State Technical College as the “go-to technician” around campus and July’s Employee Spotlight honoree.

“This recognition really brightens my day,” said Hernandez. “I didn’t know people paid attention to my work. This makes everything I do worth it.”

Hernandez is TSTC’s Video Network Technician for the Office of Information Technology and finds himself traveling almost monthly to TSTC’s sister campuses across the state.

The 32-year-old manages the audio and visual set ups and installations on and off campus for classrooms, offices, commencement ceremonies and other special events.

“TSTC is my second home and I try my best to keep everything working and everyone happy,” he said.

Altogether, the San Benito native, who is also a TSTC alumnus, has worked at TSTC for nearly eight years, counting his time as a work study and student worker.

“I always knew TSTC was the place for me,” said Hernandez. “Once I had my foot in the door I stayed and thankfully I’ve been able to grow with the college.”Jesse Hernandez

During his time as a student pursuing a certificate and associate degree in Computer System Management Technology, Hernandez worked at the media center, in online learning as a test proctor and in the department’s computer lab and finally in his current position.

“Working on campus while a student was a great experience,” he said. “I got to practice what I learned in the classroom on real-world situations.”

Hernandez credits a lot of his success to two of his top mentors, former TSTC Media Center Coordinator and now lab assistant for Computer Systems Management Technology Joe Gonzalez and TSTC Computer Maintenance Instructor Elizabeth Martinez.

“Joe always made me figure things out before telling me. I never liked it, but honestly, it paid off in the long run and I’m better for it,” said Hernandez. “And Elizabeth always took her time explaining things to me when I needed help. I learned a lot from her.”

Just as Hernandez can’t say enough about TSTC, TSTC faculty and staff can’t say enough about him.

“Jesse always greets you with a smile whether he’s assisting you with a technical issue or just passing you in the hallway,” read one comment on his Employee Spotlight certificate.

Another comment read, “Jesse is always quick to respond whether by phone, email or in person. He is our go-to technician when we need any type of technical assistance.”

 

Lastly, “At the Challenger Center he is our go-to for all of our audio and video needs, including our space shuttle. Without him, our space missions would be, for lack of better word, grounded.”

In the future, Hernandez hopes to pursue another associate degree at TSTC in Computer Networking and Security Technology and also a bachelor’s degree from one of four universities offered at TSTC’s University Center.

“My goal is to continue growing professionally and with TSTC. It’s a great place to work and I love the friends I have made here,” said Hernandez.

He also added that he would like to send a big thank you and a hug to those who recognized his work.

“If anyone needs help, they know they can call me,” he said.

TSTC prides itself on being a great place to work. For more information on job opportunities go online at tstc.edu/about/employment.

TSTC Graduate Suffers Loss, Finds Hope

(HARLINGEN) – Sughei Castillo was one of nearly 400 students who realized a life-long dream last night during Texas State Technical College’s commencement ceremony at the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium.

The Lasara native, only the second in her family to graduate from college, earned a certificate in vocational nursing.

This is a career she was first introduced to in middle school, but was fully inspired to pursue it when she would watch her mother care for her grandfather while he fought a battle with lung cancer.

“I’m drawn to this profession and being able to help someone is so gratifying,” said Castillo.

“Unfortunately, my grandfather lost his battle. But the idea of being someone’s comfort and help during their time of need makes everything I do worth it.”Sughei Castillo

Most recently, as close as she was to reaching her goal, a family tragedy almost got in the way.

A fire destroyed the 23-year-old’s family home a month ago. Her family lost everything and today they have no home to call their own. .

With only the clothes on her back, Castillo was ready to quit school and find a job to help her family replace what was lost, but with the support from her mother she returned to TSTC the very next day.

“I was devastated. And I didn’t see how I could continue school while my family struggled,” she said. “But my mother, the woman I aspire to be when I grow up, was searching for a way to replace my uniforms that same day. How could I let her down?”

Castillo credits her success after the fire to her instructors and classmates who pulled together to collect donations and organize a fundraiser for Castillo and her family.

TSTC even donated a dorm room so she could make it to her last three weeks of the semester and save the money she would use on gas for her 30-minute drive to class.

“I entered this program alone, but I’m leaving with a family,” said Castillo. “They (classmates) donated uniforms, money, toiletries – everything we needed to stand up again. I am so blessed to have these people in my life. God knew why he put them there.”

Castillo is once again looking forward to her future.

After passing her national licensing exam, Castillo hopes to find employment at Solara Hospital in Harlingen to start saving up for a home for her family and a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Ultimately, she hopes to become a nurse practitioner.

“TSTC and the vocational nursing program have opened doors of opportunities for me,” she said. “All of the training I have received has prepared me to work, be successful and continue my education. My possibilities now are limitless.”

Castillo’s mother Lidia Castillo said she is so proud of everything her daughter has accomplished and overcome so far.

“I’m so blessed to be her mother,” said Lidia. “I admire her strength to rise, ambition to overcome challenges and her will to move forward. I call her my warrior and will always be here to support her 100 percent.”

Castillo said although her family’s situation is not ideal, and she wishes she was headed to a home of their own after commencement, she still has a lot to be thankful for.

“Material items come and go. I just thank God that my family is safe, I have them by side and God has blessed us with more than we probably deserve.”

More than 1,000 TSTC students across the state earned certificates or associate degrees during TSTC’s Summer 2017 commencement ceremonies.

For more information on vocational nursing or TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Graduate Finds Second Lease on Life at College

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College has given Auto Collision Technology student Refugio Cazares a second chance after losing his freedom and nearly his life several years ago.

Cazares, a Harlingen native, will receive a certificate II in Auto Collision, making him one of nearly 400 students who will receive a certificate or associate degree tonight at TSTC’s Summer 2017 commencement ceremonies.

“I never thought I’d be where I am today,” he said. “It feels good knowing that I’m working my way to being a better person for myself, for my family and for my 4-year-old daughter.”

It was 2004 when Cazares left TSTC and moved to Missouri to work in a cotton farm, then in a steel mill where he was quickly being promoted, but alcohol ruined his chances of a future there.Refugio Cazares

“I was, in a way, having my own pity party,” he said. “My life was spiraling down fast and drinking was my escape. I was out of control.”

Slowly his family created a distance, he broke his back in a car accident and was bedridden for three months and after numerous DWI’s and losing his driver’s license he ended up in prison for two years.

“Being in prison opened up my eyes and made me realize I needed to change to my life,” said Cazares.

He credits God and his mother for the lifestyle change he has undergone. And although each day has its own struggle he is proud of the person he is becoming.

“I take one day at a time,” he said. “There are still people that look down on me for my past, but I don’t let that negativity get to me. I have a goal and I won’t throw away my future.”

Cazares hopes to someday work in the auto collision industry, an interest he picked up from the men in his family. He wants to either work at an auto collision center, be an auto collision instructor or even build his own business.

“God willing I will find what I’m looking for out in industry,” he said. “Ultimately, my goal is to find a place where I can use my skills and also be a leader and role model for others.”

For now, Cazares is searching for a part-time job where he can practice what he has learned, but still have time for school because he will be returning to TSTC in the fall to pursue an associate degree in his field.

TSTC Auto Collision Instructor Jose Vasquez said he commends Cazares for taking the initiative of returning to college and pursuing a certification and degree despite the challenges he has faced.

“Refugio is an outstanding student. He has A’s and B’s and always willing to lend a helping hand,” said Vasquez. “Everyone deserves a second chance and he is working hard to better himself. I know he has all the potential he needs to be successful in the industry.”

Overall, Cazares said his experience at TSTC has been amazing and has opened new doors of opportunities for him.

“I’m leaving my past in the past and looking toward the future, and TSTC will get me to where I want to be,” he said.

TSTC’s Commencement Ceremonies are tonight at the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

For more information on Auto Collision Technology or to apply at TSTC visit tstc.edu.

 

TSTC Awarded TWC Workforce Training Grant

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College, in partnership with Portage Plastics Corp. and Rich Products Corp. of Brownsville, was recently awarded a $276,789 Development Skills Grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

In the past fiscal year, TSTC has been awarded more than $4 million in grants for workforce training to benefit almost 4,000 employees at companies across the state.

“TSTC is proud and honored to partner with the Texas Workforce Commission in this endeavor,” said Rick Herrera, TSTC interim provost, vice chancellor of information technology and chief integration officer.

The most recent award will be used to train 123 Portage Plastics and Rich Products employees in the areas of production, maintenance, and mechanical and support operations.

TSTC instructors will provide 6,329 hours of on-site training. Trainees will receive 59 percent business and technical training, 31 percent general technical training and 10 percent non-technical training.TSTC, TWC Check Signing

TSTC Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Mike Reeser said the Texas Workforce Commission and Julian Alvarez, TWC commissioner and a former TSTC employee, are tireless advocates for education and training.

“Skills development efforts are so important for us,” said Reeser. “We have a dedicated focus to improving skills and helping people grow.”

Portage Plastics Corp. Plant Manager Tony Capella thanked TSTC for a job well done.

“TSTC has been by our side from the start,” said Capella. “We had a lot of problems with other entities we worked with, but this is a great partnership.”

Texas State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. and State Representative Eddie Lucio III also applauded TSTC and Alvarez for keeping up with technical changes and industry needs.

“TSTC has helped hundreds of thousands of people. And it means so much to so many,” said Lucio Jr. “These grants have positively impacted Texas employers and employees, and we hope and pray we have the opportunity to continue these partnerships.”

TSTC has applied for and expects to receive another half-million dollars for more workforce training for companies in Waco, Hutto and Harlingen.

TSTC in Waco Starts Fall Semester

(WACO) – Weston Potter, a Building Construction Technology major at Texas State Technical College, is a first-day-of-class veteran.

Potter, 21, from Mansfield, began the fall semester on Monday with the finish line in sight – he is scheduled to graduate in May and is ready to go to work.

“The first day is so good because it’s building a solid foundation for my future,” Potter said.

His advice for first-semester students at TSTC was to pay attention and know they will understand how to balance their new responsibilities.

Faculty members in Building Construction Technology and Welding Technology said their classes went smoothly Monday. Students visited the Student Services Center Monday morning to make final payment arrangements or visit the campus bookstore.

TSTC Provost Adam Hutchison was on the greenway early Monday morning greeting students.

“The first day of the fall semester is always special,” he said. “I love the excitement and buzz on campus as students fill up the sidewalks and make their way to class. There are many new faces who are just starting their journey with TSTC, and there are lots of familiar, returning students who are excited about finishing their degrees or certificates this term.”

Branden Paradis, 18, of Del Rio has several Del Rio High School alumni to learn from as he begins studying in the Welding Technology program. He arrived during the weekend to move into Village Oaks Apartments at TSTC and has already found where the Del Rio students are living.

“I’m excited for college and it is cooler that I can be with my classmates,” Paradis said. “I learned about TSTC from my instructor. I applied first then visited the campus and was impressed with what I saw.”

The first day of the semester ended with a dodgeball tournament held at the Murray Watson Jr. Student Recreation Center as part of Welcome Week. Other activities this week include a game night, pool tournament and block party.

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