TSTC teaching program prepares students for an A-plus career

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Thinking about a career in education? Texas is third in the nation in employment for hiring paraprofessionals, and Texas State Technical College is working to meet the demand with its Education and Training program.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be more than 55,000 jobs nationally through 2028, with growth being affected by rising student enrollment.TSTC Education and Training

“The number of schools, especially charter schools that are opening up, is large,” said Myriam Aguila, TSTC Education and Training department chair. “This growth increases the number of job opportunities and options for our graduates.”

Aguila went on to explain how Education and Training prepares students for a career in the education field.

“We receive a lot of positive feedback from teachers who our students work with about their commitment, enthusiasm, creativity and preparedness,” she said. “This says a lot about what they learn during their time in our program.”

What is the length of the program?

Education and Training offers two pathways. A student can earn a certificate in four semesters or an associate degree in five semesters.

What can students expect when they graduate?

Students in the program will graduate with, on average, 500 hours of experience in the field. With this type of immersion, graduates are well trained and prepared to manage the everyday duties of a classroom. Many of these graduates are hired before they even graduate at Head Start campuses or elementary schools where they are completing their apprenticeships.  

What skills do students learn in Education and Training?

In this program, students will receive specialized training in early childhood development, bilingual education, general education and special education, and will learn about instructional practices and effective learning environments, child growth and development.

They will also receive hands-on training by creating and developing instructional materials and by completing a practicum, which gives students field experience at local school district classrooms.  

What types of technologies are used to learn these skills?

Education and Training students have access to classrooms and labs equipped with the necessary classroom tools such as paper rolls, cutters, laminating and binding machines, poster printers, and supplies such as crayons, markers and craft scissors.

They also focus on technology in the classroom that helps push science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, so they also have tablets that they use as learning and teaching tools, a green screen and a three-dimensional printer.

How do these skills prepare a student for the workforce?

With more than 50% of a student’s training focused on technical, hands-on learning, they are prepared and confident to lead a classroom. They enter the workforce familiar with what to expect, great knowledge, a well-rounded skill set and are ready to work.  

What types of positions can a graduate from this program obtain?

Students who successfully complete the program can immediately begin their careers as paraprofessionals.

Graduates from this program have been hired by local school districts such as Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, NINOS Head Start and local day care centers.

TSTC Vocational Nursing graduates welcomed into profession

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Alyssa Parker spoke about overcoming her struggles and getting a second chance in her speech as salutatorian of the Texas State Technical College Vocational Nursing class of Fall 2019.

She spread her message during the program’s Vocational Pinning Ceremony hosted Thursday night at the TSTC Cultural Arts Center.

“Trust yourself, have confidence in yourself, and push yourself through the bumps in the road. Because you can come back stronger,” she said. “I am proof.”

This is the Harlingen native’s second time around in the Vocational Nursing program, having missed the mark the first time by only a tenth of a point.Vocational Nursing Salutatorian Alyssa Parker

“We were struggling to make ends meet, and I was working a lot,” said the 24-year-old. “It was hard to juggle everything and keep up with studying. But we’re in a different place now, and my significant other was able to take the responsibility of being the sole provider so I could keep my dream of becoming a nurse.”

Her dream is now a reality.

She will graduate from the Vocational Nursing program next Friday, but she has already accepted a position with the Neuro Med-Surg unit at Valley Baptist Medical Center, where she has previously worked as a certified nursing assistant.

“It is all so surreal. I never expected any of this to happen,” said Parker. “And I’m so thankful to my family, friends and instructors who made it all possible. It was a challenge, but they helped me overcome it.”

Sharing her sentiment was class valedictorian Sabrina Garza.

“It’s an honor being able to represent my class as valedictorian,” said the 21-year-old. “It’s been a lot of missed family time, studying and discipline. But it’s finally time to turn the page to a new chapter.”

Like Parker, Garza has dreamed of becoming a nurse since childhood, having grown up around aunts and cousins who are in the profession.

TSTC Vocational Nursing Valedictorian Sabrina Parker“This pin is a symbol of our hard work. It shows that everything we’ve done has paid off,” said Garza. “It’s a great feeling, and I thank my family, instructors and God for making all of this possible.”

The pin that Parker, Garza and their 18 classmates received, along with the capping and candlelighting ceremony, symbolizes the passing of knowledge. It a rite of passage into nursing and stems from a tradition set by Florence Nightingale, a trailblazing figure in the profession and the founder of modern-day nursing.

The ceremony also included a blessing of the hands and benediction led by Pastor Danny Anderson of the Bridge-Rio Hondo Baptist Church.

“Our students work hard to get to this day,” said TSTC Vocational Nursing director Heather Sauceda. “Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for them, and we are very proud of them.”

As for Parker and Garza, they both plan on returning to TSTC to pursue an associate degree in registered nursing.

These 18 students will earn certificates in Vocational Nursing on December 13 during TSTC’s Commencement ceremonies at the Harlingen Convention Center.

The Vocational Nursing pinning ceremony is held twice a year during the Summer and Fall semesters.

For more information on the program, visit https://tstc.edu/programs/Nursing.

TSTC EMS advances student learning with Extrication Day

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – It was quite an experience for Pedro Casillas and more than 40 of his peers as they helped save lives in a mock two-vehicle accident during Extrication Day hosted by the Texas State Technical College Emergency Medical Services program.

“This was a great opportunity to practice what I’ve learned in the classroom,” said Casillas. “It was exciting to be able to showcase our skills to the local first responders who could hire us someday.”

Casillas, who works in beach patrol with the South Padre Island Fire Department, said he appreciates TSTC giving students like him this type of opportunity.

Extrication Day serves as training for EMS students to allow them to put their skills and knowledge to the test in a mass casualty incident drill while working with other first responders at the scene.TSTC Extrication Day

TSTC EMS instructor Adriana Contreras said Thursday’s drill marked one year since the program began hosting Extrication Day, and she has discovered that both new and returning students look forward to participating in it.

“This is a big step toward them starting their careers in this field,” said Contreras. “And from the beginning of the program to this point, it is so rewarding to see how much our students have learned and how much confidence they have gained in their skills.”

Contreras added that each Extrication Day opens up dialogue between emergency medical technicians and paramedic students who might otherwise never cross paths.

“A big focus on Extrication Day goes to making sure our students understand that EMS is a team effort,” she said. “Whether you’re fire, police or EMS, you must work with everyone to get the job done. So this helps them build a network.”

With teamwork being a top priority, TSTC receives help from local first responders across the Rio Grande Valley to bring a drill of this magnitude to life.

Participants included the TSTC Police Department, the city of Brownsville Fire Department, South Texas Emergency Care, and South Texas AirMed, which landed its helicopter for the event.

“We are so thankful for the amount of help and support we receive each Extrication Day,” said Contreras. “Our health care partners always help make this successful for our program and students.”

Contreras said drills like this give her students real-world experience so they are better prepared to enter the field.

“This event brings everything full circle for our classes,” she said. “It’s a culmination of everything our students have learned, from theory to technical, hands-on training.”

TSTC’s EMT and paramedic programs are currently accepting applications for Spring and Summer 2020 semesters. Information sessions are held every Tuesday on campus.

EMS is also offered at TSTC’s Abilene and Brownwood campuses.

For more information, visit https://tstc.edu/programs/EmergencyMedicalServices.

Veteran finds new career at TSTC

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – On Friday, Jackie Cook joined nearly 100 other Texas State Technical College graduates who received a certificate or an associate degree during the college’s commencement ceremony at the Stafford Centre.

The 31-year-old walked across the stage to receive his associate degree in Cybersecurity Technology as his family and friends witnessed the graduate’s proud moment.

“This is a huge achievement for me,” he said. “It’s a brand-new chapter. I’ve been working toward this for a while now.”

After his first stint in college didn’t go as planned, Cook served in the Army for nine years, with a deployment in Afghanistan.TSTC Cybersecurity graduate Jackie Cook

“College wasn’t going so well, so I enlisted,” he said. “I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps.”

Cook was no stranger to military life. His father served in the military, and the family moved to destinations around the world, including Japan, where Cook was born.

“It was challenging as a child, moving from place to place,” said Cook. “But as I got older, I found the adventure in it, and meeting new people was always the silver lining.”

Although meeting new people and experiencing new places was exciting for Cook, he realized he wanted more stability for his family. In 2018 he decided to leave the military.

That was when TSTC came into the picture.

“I needed to return to school and get an education,” he said. “I needed a new career, and education was the key.”

With an interest in computers and a father who specialized in information technology and encouraged him to pursue a career in the field, Cook found Cybersecurity at TSTC and thought of it as a perfect match.

“I have found that I really enjoy network security processes,” said Cook. “I want to be the person that blocks threats, and TSTC has prepared me for that career.”

He added that although hands-on training and getting to practice what he learns has given him confidence to enter the real world, it has been his instructors’ eagerness to help that has made all the difference.

“Our instructors have been there to help and go above and beyond,” he said. “They ensure that we understand the material and that we are learning skills that will make us marketable to employers.”

And with his student worker position at the Cybersecurity labs, Cook has had the opportunity to learn even more by using his skills to help others in his class.

“Overall, my entire experience at TSTC has prepared me for the future,” Cook said. “And I’m definitely ready for what’s next.”

With several job offers in hand, the husband and father of one said TSTC has changed his life and his family’s life.

“It’s been an interesting journey to say the least. Being in school with a family had its challenges, but we got through it,” he said. “Everything I am doing is for them, and now I’m going to be able to support them and give them a better life.”

Statewide this fall, more than 1,000 TSTC students will receive certificates or associate degrees and join an alumni network that is 100,000 strong.

Cybersecurity Technology is also offered at TSTC’s East Williamson County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses.

For more information, visit https://www.tstc.edu/programs/CyberSecurity

TSTC Student Prepares for ‘Safe’ Career Upon Graduation

(WACO, Texas) – Nathan Craig of Hamilton found his footing on Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus, following the path of a few family members. 

Coming from a family of first responders, Craig, 21, has a strong interest in the emergency services field. When he came to TSTC, he was unsure of what route to take. But he found his niche in the Environmental Technology program, which focuses on workplace safety and compliance. 

“The biggest thing that draws me to it is that it does kind of intertwine with the emergency field,” Craig said.

Craig is a candidate for graduation at TSTC’s Fall 2019 Commencement on Friday, Dec. 6, at the Waco Convention Center. He will graduate with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Environmental Technology – Compliance. 

Craig said his plan following graduation is to weigh his current job prospects. His goal is to pursue a bachelor’s degree. 

TSTC’s statewide Environmental department chair Lester Bowers said Craig’s work ethic is only one of his many assets.

“He has proven himself to be a gentle and selfless individual when it comes to matters of social justice and is an expert in efficiently managing his time so he can be a part of all of these various communities,” Bowers said. 

Occupational Safety instructor Kimberly Williams said Craig has been in her class multiple times and is a consistently dependable and punctual student. 

“You can just put him on autopilot and give him instructions, and he is going to do a good job,” Williams said. “You don’t have to stay on him.” 

Craig’s interests go beyond environmental safety, including aviation and culinary arts. However, He said that he was drawn to the safety aspect of his degree. 

“It is important, the fact that you are in a situation where you are in control of keeping people safe,” Craig said. 

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

TSTC Auto Collision Program Receives Service King Grant

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Auto Collision and Management Technology program celebrated the end of the fall semester at its traditional barbecue on Thursday.

Representatives of Service King presented program faculty with a $5,000 2019 Service King School Grant through the Collision Repair Education Foundation.

Clint Campbell, TSTC’s statewide Auto Collision and Management Technology chair, said the grant is an opportunity to purchase equipment the program’s budget cannot cover.

Roy Villarreal, Service King’s apprenticeship development director in Richardson, said the company looks forward to partnering with the program on its curriculum and other needs.

“The end goal is to have that easy, smooth transition for the graduates to go into one of our shops,” he said.

Campbell said future work with Service King can enlighten students on how much they are needed in the auto collision and management field.

The program also honored students graduating at TSTC’s Fall 2019 Commencement on Friday, Dec. 6, including those students who had perfect attendance during the semester.

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

TSTC student soon to be well-rounded graduate

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – On Friday, Texas State Technical College student David Krenek will walk across the stage at the Stafford Centre and receive his associate degree in Industrial Systems.

“It feels great knowing that I’m done and about to graduate,” said the 20-year-old. “It’s time to move forward and get my life started. That’s exciting.”

At a young age, the Rosenberg native discovered his passion for working with his hands and tinkering with machinery.

“It’s this type of work that allows me to think outside of the box,” he said. “Working with machinery and its components to create, repair or troubleshoot is something I love to do, and I’m glad that at TSTC I can create a career out of my passion.”TSTC Industrial Systems graduate David Krenek

College was always in the cards for Krenek, but he wasn’t always sure about attending a four-year university.

“I saw this new school (TSTC) along the highway and decided to check it out,” said Krenek. “And after some research and a tour of the campus and the Industrial Systems program, I was sold. It was the modern, industry-standard equipment I would be trained on and the program’s faculty that sealed the deal.”

Krenek said the program has brought him a long way since the summer days when he worked with his uncle on the farm, repairing farm equipment and small engines.

“I knew a bit about machines, but TSTC has really given me an in-depth understanding of them and what it takes to repair and maintain them,” he said. “I can’t wait to put my training into good use.”

Krenek has already received several job offers from companies around the Houston area.

“I’m ready to start working, and I can’t believe how fast TSTC got me there,” said Krenek. “There is still so much to learn, but TSTC has given me the foundation I need to begin a successful career.”

He added that he enjoyed his experience at TSTC, from training to faculty assistance.

“I received a lot of one-on-one with my instructors, which helped in understanding concepts and processes,” he said. “And even better was the hands-on training and real-world practice I got to do in the classroom.”

Krenek will graduate as a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

“I’ve come a long way, and I’ve entered a new chapter in life,” he said. “I hope to gain experience, learn a lot, advance in my career, start a family someday and enjoy life the best way I can. This is only the beginning.”

Krenek will celebrate with family and friends on Friday, joining nearly 100 other students at the Fort Bend County campus who will graduate with a certificate or associate degree as part of TSTC’s Class of Fall 2019.

This month, statewide, more than 1,000 TSTC students will join an alumni network that is 100,000 strong.

Industrial Systems is also offered at TSTC’s Abilene, East Williamson County, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses.

For more information, visit https://tstc.edu/programs/IndustrialSystems.

TSTC Alumnus Uses Curiosity to Progress in Career

(HUTTO, Texas) – Edreich Torres grew up in Georgetown taking broken items and putting them back together.

“I believe that my love for knowing how things work and wanting to fix them has always driven me to pursue the next big challenge that awaits me,” he said.

Torres graduated in 2016 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Maintenance – Mechanical Specialization from Texas State Technical College’s East Williamson County campus.

“TSTC helped me learn how to create, interpret and read many different types of schematics,” he said. “TSTC taught me how to troubleshoot fluid, mechanical and electrical systems.”

Lance Antilley, an instructor in TSTC’s Industrial Systems (formerly Industrial Maintenance) program, said Torres is a good example of the kind of graduates TSTC produces for employers. Students in the program learn about basic electrical theory, boiler maintenance, hydraulics, pumps and other equipment.

“He is a driven individual and an excellent technician,” Antilley said. “He picked up on everything very quickly.”

Torres has been at ICU Medical in Austin for about a year and is a senior electromechanical technician. The job requires him to have knowledge about electrical distribution panels, fluid systems, mechanical systems and programmable logic controls.

“Here at ICU, I help fix, maintain and troubleshoot many different types of issues with fabrication machines that make IV bags for hospitals,” Torres said.

Torres, who lives in Jarrell, said the company’s teamwork drives him in his work.

“The culture that has been established here at ICU Medical has taught me to work more methodically and diligently when troubleshooting,” he said. “This low-stress environment motivates me to perform at a higher level.”

California-based ICU Medical specializes in the development, manufacturing and sale of critical care products for cardiac monitoring, closed-system transfers and infusion therapy.

Aaron Keat, ICU Medical’s talent acquisition lead in Austin, said the company works with organizations that help place military veterans and is represented at career fairs to find technically skilled job candidates. The company also partners with TSTC.

“Over the last several years, it has been increasingly more challenging to find qualified candidates to fill our maintenance-mechanic openings here in Austin,” Keat said.

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

TSTC Alumnus Takes Career to New Heights

(WACO, Texas) – Michael Mojica has the products you need to go on your next adventure. 

Mojica, a graduate of Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus now living in Centennial, Colorado, has invented products and owns a company combining his appreciation for the outdoors and design.

“If we have unique, novel ideas that have true utility, there is a real opportunity in America to chase those ideas,” Mojica said. 

Mojica’s evolving inventions began with a fire-starting quick release slide buckle and moved to a survival paracord bracelet that people can use to start fires. His invention, The Firebiner®, was named “Best Gadget” by Backpacker Magazine in their 2019 Gear Guide. It was also given a “Radical by Design” award at the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show, the largest outdoor gear show in the nation.

“I thought most people can roll a wheel, like on a lighter,” Mojica said. “I also thought most people who love the outdoors have a carabiner as a keychain. I put the two together and added a couple of other simple features, and the Firebiner® was born.”

Mojica will soon launch a multi-tool carabiner called the “Fire Escape.”

The items are part of Outdoor Element, the adventure survival gear company Mojica founded in 2012. He said he loves controlling his own path and thinking freely for new ideas to come to life. 

Mojica grew up in Hillsboro and always loved taking things apart and building off of one thing to the next. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies and a minor in Textile Design from The University of Texas at Austin. 

“I knew I was meant for design,” he said.

After graduating, Mojica sought out a skills set to enter the engineering industry. He enrolled in what is now TSTC’s Architectural Drafting and Design Technology program in Waco.

“Drafting on the board gave me the ability to think and understand in 3D, and represent in 2D,” Mojica said. “The CAD (Computer-Aided Design) hours that TSTC provided gave me the perfect base training to deal with the stress of the real word and hard schedules.”

Manny Avila, an instructor in TSTC’s Architectural Drafting and Design Technology program, said Mojica was an intelligent, driven student who always sought to learn more. 

“He worked hard and would investigate various designs that were offered to him, and he produced excellent work,” Avila said.

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


TSTC Student Ready for His Future Upon Graduation

(RED OAK, Texas) – Working with large diesel equipment is in Cesar Vazquez’s blood.

“I like the noise,” he said. “I have always been in the diesel world. It pays well. There is a shortage of mechanics, so there is job security.”

Vazquez is a candidate for graduation at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2019 Commencement for the North Texas campus at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 9, at the Waxahachie Civic Center. He is scheduled to receive a Diesel Equipment Technology – Heavy Truck certificate of completion. 

Vazquez said his favorite hands-on activities in class dealt with engines and transmissions.

TSTC student Jared Bourgeois of Fort Worth met Vazquez in their Diesel Equipment Technology classes. He will graduate in December with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology.

“He has a lot of knowledge,” Bourgeois said. “He is definitely a leader. He knows what things to get done first.”

Vazquez was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and moved with his family to Texas when he was young. His family lived in Irving before settling in Red Oak.

“I grew up with it since I was 6 years old,” Vazquez said about diesel equipment. “My father had a construction business in Mexico. He’s a truck driver here now.”

Vazquez used self-motivation to start his own business at 16 doing maintenance work on vehicles. He did this while a student at Red Oak High School, where he graduated in 2018.

TSTC student Omar Juarez met Vazquez when they played middle school football in Red Oak. Juarez will graduate in December with a Diesel Equipment Technology – Heavy Truck certificate. Juarez said he admires Vazquez’s work ethic.

“He makes sure things are done correctly,” Juarez said. “He is always pushing other people to get better.”

Next spring, Vazquez will finish an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology – Heavy Truck Specialization and hopes to have his commercial driver’s license by next summer. He also wants to look for a job in Ellis County that would enable him to get more engine experience.

“I want to be someone and be known for something,” Vazquez said. “I have been working hard since I was little.”

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