Author Archives: Daniel Perry

TSTC student honored with campus award

(WACO, Texas) – Thomas Pechal, of Temple retired in August 2019 from Temple Fire and Rescue, where he was a firefighter and paramedic and also worked with community education and public information.

A week later, he was attending Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus working on a new career in Environmental Technology and Occupational Safety Compliance Technology.

“In that line of work, you are training and studying and learning new topics while in class,” Pechal said. “That is part of what a firefighter’s responsibility is: learning new things, staying relevant, and practicing new skills.”

Pechal received Associate of Applied Science degrees in Environmental Technology – Compliance and Occupational Safety Compliance Technology this spring at TSTC. He is also the spring recipient of the Mike Torres Jr. Leadership Award.

Pechal said he enjoyed what he learned in the two programs, including confined space training and calibrating a monitor to take air sample readings. He did a required internship at MTC in Temple, specializing in forklift battery handling and food processing equipment.

“No matter what job you are doing, you have to do it safely,” Pechal said. “The role of the safety professional is to advocate for the worker and make sure they can do their job safely and go home at the end of their shift.”

Lester Bowers, TSTC’s statewide chair of the Environmental Health and Safety department, said he admires Pechal’s willingness to take on difficult and demanding assignments and his ability to think for himself.

“Thomas is goal-driven, works extremely hard, and has learned discipline, excellent time management and concentration, with the quality and preciseness of his work being a testament to it,” Bowers said. “He is one of the most reflective and thoughtful students I have had in my class.”

Pechal is currently doing job interviews in Central Texas.

“I am excited about the future, no matter what happens,” he said. “I am looking forward to this next phase in life after school. I can take the knowledge and skills and apply that to help other people stay safe in the work area.”

Pechal grew up in the Temple and Houston areas and is a graduate of Rogers High School and Temple Junior College.

The Mike Torres Jr. Leadership Award is given to honor the memory of Waco native Mike Torres Jr., who taught in TSTC’s Digital Media and Design program until his death in 2005. According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, Torres graduated from Bishop Louis Reicher Catholic High School and TSTC’s Commercial Art Advertising and Integrated Digital Image program.

The award signifies qualities that Torres was known for courage, honesty and integrity. The award is given each semester at commencement to a candidate for graduation who is nominated by TSTC faculty and staff members. It was first given in fall 2011, according to TSTC archival information.

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

TSTC Culinary Arts graduate makes sweet treats

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College Culinary Arts graduate Adilene Camarena launched her Waco bakery, Around the World, in April 2020, with high hopes, fierce determination and a generous helping of optimism. The bakery is at Union Hall in downtown Waco.

One year later, the Hillsboro native reflected on her experiences and reminisced about her time in the Culinary Arts program.  

“It was a really good experience, and it helped me learn how to work with recipes and make them better as I go along,” Camarena said. “I did the full program, with baking as my specialty.”  

Camarena graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts in 2016. She was already sure about where she wanted to go and what she wanted to do when she got there.

Clad in a simple black apron, she now stands proudly behind a glass case stacked with shelves of brightly frosted cupcakes, flaky puff pastries, and international treats like Canadian Nanaimo bars and French macarons. Camarena’s sugary brainchild is nestled in a quiet corner of the bustling food court. 

“I lived in Waco when I went to TSTC. I really loved downtown, which has been growing and getting bigger,” Camarena said. “When the opportunity popped up, I took it. I know there’s potential here.” 

Opening a bakery in the middle of a global pandemic was an especially precarious roll of the dice. But Camarena believes her mentors and training at TSTC helped prepare her to successfully run her own bakery.  

“I took Advanced Pastry Shop with Chef (Paul) Porras; we learned methods and basic skills like how to make breads, cookies and cakes,” Camarena said. “All the chefs always gave good advice from their own experiences, and I enjoyed my time learning from each of them.” 

Culinary Arts instructor Michele Brown considers Camarena’s success to be an example of an underrated program that has produced multiple local restaurant owners over the years. 

“We’ve got chefs at country clubs, hospitals and doing fine dining. One of our graduates is head chef at Lula Jane’s, and another one owns HonkyTonk Kid BBQ,” Brown said. 

Head chef and partner at Waco restaurant and bakery Lula Jane’s, Stacy Russell entered the Culinary Arts program after years in the auto mechanic industry and commented on how his training at TSTC prepared him for his current role as head chef. 

“Those classes helped me in more ways than one. All the classes in the program were much-needed skills I used when I started at my first job,” Russell said. “Those that really love culinary arts will do what it takes to soak it all up. Always make the food that inspires you, and never lower your standards.”

Camarena’s inspiration is the core of her business model and resulted in her bakery’s theme. It would be easy to assume the young baker might be hesitant or indecisive, but one conversation with her proves otherwise. The confidence and passionate professionalism just beneath the surface stand out the longer you talk to her.  

“I sell things like Nanaimo bars, and I have Canadians come in that get so excited — they always buy them,” Camarena chuckles, adjusting the mask that her smile has shifted around her face. “I’ve done a lot of research for different recipes for this place because the concept is ‘around the world.’”

Indeed, the bakery provides a sampling of desserts from around the globe, and the Waco community has quickly adopted it and made it a local staple for desserts and baked goods. Camarena’s one piece of advice to aspiring students? Tap into that resource. 

“Join a community and get involved. Connect with people, especially local business owners,” Camarena notes. “Once you’ve done that, everything sort of falls into place with the right people beside you.”

Waco has invested in economic sustainability by supporting homegrown entrepreneurs like Russell and Camarena, a fact she expressed her gratitude for in the warm, humble tones distinctive to her character.

“I’ve learned along the way and gotten to meet a lot of people and make a lot of friendships,” Camarena said. “They decide to choose me as their baker and the place they buy their desserts from. That’s become something I’m very proud of.” 

Registration continues for the summer and fall semesters at TSTC. For more information, go to tstc.edu. 

 

TSTC Culinary Arts students poised for success

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College Culinary Arts students are ready to make their dreams come true when they graduate this spring. 

“I feel as if this program has prepared me for more than I ever imagined,” said Mikhaila Hoffman of College Station. “The long-term goal is to eventually own my own bakery. That probably won’t happen for a while, but that’s been my dream for a long time. I feel more prepared than I thought I would.” 

Equipping students with the skills they need to find employment in the food industry is the crux of the Culinary Arts program’s curriculum. Students learn food sanitation and safety practices, proper handling of kitchen equipment, menu planning, catering and nutrition. 

The Culinary Club’s vice president, Dequan Carter, of Waco, praised instructors’ knowledge and encouragement of their students. 

“TSTC is a great program, the chefs are always there to help, and the skills they teach you will be needed in any well-established restaurant,” Carter said. “They teach you great knife skills that will help you in the long run. Skills that I didn’t have are now refined with the help of the chefs.” 

Students can work toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts or certificates of completion such as Culinarian, Culinary Assistant and Culinary Specialist. Each program requires sanitation and safety courses, but specialty classes like International Cuisine and Advanced Pastry Shop offer students the chance to discover what they are passionate about. 

“My favorite class would have to be International Cuisine because we make foods from around the world,” said Emmanuel Walker of Waco. “It gives you a sense of what other cultures and regions have to offer.” 

Vickie Bradford, of Corsicana, makes the hourlong commute several times a week to attend classes at the Greta W. Watson Culinary Arts Center at the Waco campus. She voiced her appreciation for the program’s specialty baking classes and the experience she has gained at TSTC. 

“Baking is my passion. I love making pound cake, pineapple upside-down cake and lemon cake,” Bradford said. “I have a couple of favorite classes that I’m going to miss, but the top of my list would be Chef Brown’s baking class — it was very challenging and fun. I enjoyed her class because at first I thought it would be a piece of cake. Wrong!”

Students develop skills they need to own and operate their own establishments, such as hospitality supervision and management. They learn proper plate presentation, sauce creation, and butchering and cooking of meat, poultry, seafood and game. 

Walker is an aspiring restaurant owner and SkillsUSA competitor. Students like him gain confidence in their abilities and ambitions during their time at TSTC. 

“My experience here has been one of the best adventures in my life. The skills that I have learned are all of the things that I would need to be successful,” Walker said. “I see myself possibly starting my own restaurant. It may take some time, but with the right motivation and consistency, I’d be able to do more than own a restaurant and start a small franchise.”  

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics and onetonline.org, Texas currently employs the second-most restaurant cooks in the nation. The market is booming for Culinary Arts students like these, who are just starting their careers and ready to claim their dreams, one step at a time. 

“I’ve always loved cooking from a young age, and I want to be a head chef sometime in the future. My parents moved to the U.S. for me so I could have better opportunities,” Carter said. “I’m going to keep pushing for my goals to be the best that I can be, no matter what comes my way.”

Registration continues for the summer and fall semesters at TSTC. For more information, go to tstc.edu. 

TSTC Culinary Arts program ready to fill area restaurant jobs

(WACO, Texas) – Now is a good time to enter the culinary arts field because there is a need for skilled workers.

“I have never seen such a staffing shortage across the board right now, whether it is cooks, front of house, or food runners,” said Kyle Citrano, president of the Waco Restaurant Association and managing partner of George’s Restaurant and Bar No. 2 in Hewitt.

Citrano said Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts students and graduates should thrive as good cooks or servers.

“There is a need and shortage, and they have all of that in their favor,” he said. “They can go into a restaurant tomorrow, and someone would probably hire them.”

Michele Brown, lead instructor in TSTC’s Culinary Arts program in Waco, said students and graduates need to look at benefits and how the business of their choice is going to help advance their careers.

Brown cited a budding partnership with Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Round Rock, which has recently hired students and graduates of TSTC’s Culinary Arts programs in East Williamson County and Waco.

“The nice thing about working with a group like Kalahari is they have more than one property,” she said.

Dorothy Lentis, a 2013 graduate of TSTC’s Culinary Arts program and owner of Alpha Omega Grill and Bakery in Waco, said students and graduates need to have patience and become good at multitasking. She said this and other skills can be learned with lots of practice and a culinary arts education.

“(At TSTC) we had to plate all the food we made in a professional manner that could be sold in a restaurant,” Lentis said. “We were judged on knife cuts, the gelatinousness of the sauce, the presentation and, of course, the taste.”

Citrano said restaurants in the Waco area felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said not every restaurant had the ability to offer to-go and delivery options while still maintaining food quality, as well as health and safety standards.

He said that since George’s reopening after being closed for six weeks due to the pandemic, the restaurant has been affected by shortages in staffing and the availability of meats and other goods. But he said patrons’ support for the restaurant is still high.

“The staff is making the best money they have probably made working here,” he said.

TSTC’s Culinary Arts program has had to adapt to the pandemic by offering to-go meals to on-campus faculty, staff and students in lieu of in-person dining. The program’s students have also learned to adapt to the changing pandemic situation.

“They can go out and do whatever is thrown at them,” Brown said. “They have shown their leadership skills this semester.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected more than 158,000 chefs and head cooks will be needed by 2029. This will be driven by restaurant patrons who want high-quality, healthier meals.

In May 2020, Texas had 4,900 chefs and head cooks earning an annual mean wage of more than $57,000, according to the federal labor statistics agency.

Registration continues for the summer and fall semesters at TSTC. For more information, go to tstc.edu. 

East Texas industrial systems jobs are ready for TSTC graduates

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Rush Harris, executive director of the Marshall Economic Development Corp., said the need for industrial systems workers is being seen right now. 

Harris said he recently has spoken with two companies that need new workers. He said more than 20 companies in Harrison County and surrounding counties are searching for industrial systems employees.

This means job opportunities for graduates of Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization in Marshall.

Edward Chaney, TSTC’s statewide chair of the Industrial Systems Technology program, said students focus on an array of skills in hands-on labs. Some of the classes taught in Marshall focus on basic hydraulics, basic electrical theory, compressors, and programmable logic controllers.

“Our students in Marshall are given a heavy dose of electrical skills but are also backed up with the mechanical skills needed to tie the two together and make a well-rounded technician,” Chaney said.

He said the goal is for students to experience as much as they can about the work they will encounter after graduation.

“We don’t have near enough students to be able to fill the demand for good technicians,” Chaney said. “With an Industrial Systems Technology skill set, graduates have plenty of options available for placement, so the jobs are out there.”

Harris said industrial systems, like other technical fields, will see many workers retiring and newer employees needed to fill positions in the next few years.

“This creates an excellent opportunity for a high school graduate to move on and get an accessible two-year education specializing in industrial systems, where they will likely earn well above the median household income in Marshall,” Harris said. “These skills are in demand and can be learned for a reasonable price that allows a single person to make more money than most combined households bring in.”

The highest-paying career in the industrial systems field in the third quarter of 2020 in the East Texas Council of Governments’ 14-county region was electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation and relay, with those workers earning an annual mean wage of $70,800.

Harris said in the Marshall area, there are more than 2,100 workers in jobs that involve industrial systems. Their annual wages can be as high as $66,000, depending on industry and occupation.

TSTC’s Marshall campus offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization and an Industrial Systems Mechanic – Electrical certificate. Students have the opportunity to earn an Environmental Protection Agency Section 608 technician certification for handling refrigerants.

Registration for the summer and fall semesters continues at Texas State Technical College. For more information, go to tstc.edu.

TSTC candidate for graduation eager to educate people about safety

(WACO, Texas) – For Mary Lopez, attending Texas State Technical College is a family effort.

Not only did Lopez’s education mean a move from Combes in Cameron County to on-campus housing in Waco, but it also involves her family keeping her on schedule with assignments and helping her study.

“My family has really stepped up to the plate in supporting me in this opportunity given to us,” Lopez said. “If it was not for them being team players, I do not think we would all be succeeding as we are right now.”

Lopez is an associate degree candidate for graduation in the Occupational Safety Compliance Technology program at TSTC. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TSTC will honor graduates with a virtual graduation celebration on Thursday, April 22.

“She always strives for excellence in all of her schoolwork and makes certain her kids do the same,” said Mark Wilfert, lead instructor in TSTC’s Occupational Safety Compliance Technology program. “It is a pleasure having her in class, and I know she will be excellent in her future endeavors.”

There were several things Lopez enjoyed about the program, from hosting a study group for classmates to hands-on labs using equipment to determine gases in the air. She also learned about the different kinds of personal protection equipment. During her time in the program, she developed an interest in manufacturing.

“I like order and consistency,” Lopez said. “In a manufacturing facility, it is the same routine over and over. You know what to expect and what will happen, and nothing changes.”

Lopez grew up in Laguna Heights, near Port Isabel in Cameron County. She said her childhood was a time of protectiveness, with much time spent with her siblings.

Lopez graduated from Port Isabel High School and then joined the U.S. Army, where she was a generator mechanic.

“It (the military) taught me discipline and structure,” she said. “It taught me not to leave anyone behind. If I see someone struggling, it kicks in for me to help. The mission is to not stop until you finish.”

When she left the military, Lopez said she had a challenging time finding a job that suited her. She reached out to an education and career counselor at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for guidance. She learned about Occupational Safety Compliance Technology and that it was offered at TSTC’s Waco campus.

“(TSTC is) giving me a second chance at a career in my life to where I can feel I am contributing to my community and be a role model to my children that involves more than being a housewife,” Lopez said.

This summer, Lopez will begin taking classes to earn the Associate of Applied Science degree in Environmental Technology – Compliance at TSTC. In the future, she wants to gain experience in the manufacturing field and teach at TSTC.

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

 

TSTC Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology program eager to fill Texas jobs

(WACO, Texas) – February’s historic winter weather in Texas made people realize the importance of plumbers as pipes broke, causing damage to apartments, homes and businesses.

“It shined a light on the plumbing industry and made people see we are not always as prepared as we think we are,” said Clyff Curry, business manager of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 529 in Waco.

Texas State Technical College’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology program in Waco offers a three-semester certificate program that covers backflow prevention, blueprint reading, piping standards and other topics. The curriculum is a mix of online lectures and hands-on labs.

Jimmy Bibb, an instructor in TSTC’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology program, said four large Texas companies have contacted him in recent days seeking graduates. He said the inquiries prove how in demand graduates are.

“They have put in the work, showing up to class on time,” Bibb said. “They have completed a rigorous program. Now they have the knowledge and skill set to enter a well-diversified workplace.”

Texas had more than 39,800 plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters making an annual mean wage of $50,840 in May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Curry said there is a pressing need for plumbers now in Waco because of new construction in the commercial, hospitality, manufacturing and residential housing sectors. He said all of the projects will need pipe and mechanical work.

“The jobs are there in the industry, but we are pushing people into other fields that may or may not be as lucrative with job availability,” he said. “It is not thought of as a top industry, even though you have plumbers out there making as much as doctors. We have insurance and pensions for the future, too.”

Chris Sproles, president of Central Texas Plumbing Solutions in Waco, said it is hard finding qualified people to fill plumbing positions.

“We have advertised different ways for journeymen plumbers,” he said. “In the last year, as far as licensed plumbers, we have had three that have inquired, with two that were licensed in Texas and one that was moving here from another state. Out of those folks, I was fortunate to hire the two guys that were in Texas.”

Sproles said his company’s problem, along with other businesses in the plumbing industry, is an aging workforce.

“My workforce is lots of guys over 50,” he said. “We struggle with that. They are great guys, but they are nearing the end of their careers. We do not get good qualified candidates, for sure.”

Sproles said the company occasionally hires apprentice plumbers.

“We do get a lot of inquiries from apprentices starting out,” he said. “We are extremely selective with those guys. We are looking for someone that can learn the trade with the intent of staying here.”

Sproles said high school is the place where guidance should be given to encourage students to pursue the plumbing field.

Curry said people entering the plumbing industry should understand geometry, trigonometry and physics and have a mechanical aptitude.

“There has to be a reemphasis on work ethic,” he said. “Even in our trade, we want to work smarter, not harder. You have to be willing to put forth the effort.”

The federal labor statistics agency predicts there will be a need for more than 511,000 plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters by 2029. This is attributed to workers retiring, along with new construction and the upkeep of plumbing systems.

Registration continues for the summer and fall semesters at TSTC. For more information, go to tstc.edu. 

Curiosity drives TSTC student in learning about medical equipment

(WACO, Texas) – Jay Jackson is not daunted by a little hard work.

Jackson, of Bosqueville, is studying Biomedical Equipment Technology at Texas State Technical College and working on his family’s dairy farm in rural McLennan County. He also has a dream of attending medical school in Texas.

So far at TSTC, Jackson has learned about medical equipment networking, repair tools, medical image storage, and direct and alternating currents. 

“The instructors at TSTC are able to make comparisons and not leave you at the deep end of technical jargon,” Jackson said.

Mark Plough teaches Biomedical Equipment Technology at TSTC’s Waco campus and is also the program’s statewide department chair. He said he admires Jackson’s inquisitiveness.

“I find him to be a remarkable young person and wish we had more like him,” Plough said. “He has an insatiable appetite to acquire knowledge of many different subjects.”

Jackson said since being in the program, he has seen the array of career options that graduates can pursue. He said technicians can work in hospitals, for medical equipment manufacturers and at independent service organizations.

“It’s a good job that will give you predictable hours and very attractive entry-level pay,” he said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted there will be a need for more than 56,000 medical equipment repairers by 2029. This is attributed to the nation’s aging population and the development of new and refurbished medical equipment.

Jackson took advantage of college-level dual enrollment classes while a student at Bosqueville High School. After graduation, he attended a community college and later transferred to Baylor University, where he graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

To continue learning as he goes through the medical school application process, he enrolled last year at TSTC so he could understand how the medical equipment he will use in the future functions. After medical school, Jackson wants to stay in Texas and pursue orthopedics.

“I like the carpentry aspect of it,” Jackson said. “It’s an art to shape bones, especially with things like hip replacements.”

When Jackson is not studying or in class, he is working early mornings and late nights to keep cows happy and productive at the dairy farm.

“I like working on the dairy farm and helping my dad,” Jackson said. “I do whatever I need to do that day.”

Registration continues for the summer and fall semesters at Texas State Technical College. For more information, go to tstc.edu.

TSTC graduate shows mettle in pursuing plumbing career

(WACO, Texas) – Jude Gonzales has learned that the positive people with whom he surrounds himself both personally and professionally can be motivational in creating a career and life to be proud of.

Where plumbing is concerned, Jude Gonzales knows that there is always more to learn — and he is not afraid to try.

“You will never truly master plumbing,” he said. “It is extremely complex when you dive into plumbing. It is a day-to-day grind while accumulating wisdom and knowledge and remaining humble at all times.”

Gonzales graduated in 2019 from Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus with a Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology certificate. While at TSTC, he competed in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

After graduation, Gonzales and his father made plans to move to Idaho. But while eating at a diner on the way there, they decided to go to Albuquerque, New Mexico, because a relative lives in the state.

Gonzales said he had a challenging time finding a job.

“I had an amazing certificate, a resume, people who were well-versed and thought very highly of me, but nobody hired me,” he said.

Gonzales tried a new tactic involving an Albuquerque mall, a business suit, a sign indicating he was ready to work, and a stack of resumes. He eventually met someone who gave him a business card for a plumbing company in Albuquerque.

“The next day I did an interview and was hired,” Gonzalez said. “I was making $13.50 an hour.”

He worked for that company for two years and accumulated hundreds of apprenticeship hours to take New Mexico’s test to become a journeyman plumber. He received the certification in 2020, according to state of New Mexico licensing information.

“There are long hours, you are constantly having to train, and you are green,” Gonzales said. “Once you overcome those challenges, it is extremely beneficial. It is its own reward in going out to do something very few human beings are wanting and willing to do.”

It was Gonzales’ bout with COVID-19 while in Albuquerque that made him realize he wanted to be closer to his family in the Waco area. Once he made a full recovery, he moved back to Texas. He is now working at Central Texas Plumbing Solutions in Waco and is preparing to take the test to become a journeyman plumber in Texas.

Gonzales grew up in Robison. After graduating from Robinson High School, he joined the U.S. Navy and worked in culinary arts before receiving an honorable discharge. He later enrolled at TSTC and chose Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology because he was curious about the work.

“Jude is very punctual, respectful and focused at whatever he chooses to do,” said Jimmy Bibb, an instructor in TSTC’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology program. “He entered this program with the intent of pulling everything out of it that he could. He was a star in the classroom and in the lab. Jude was always digging deeper and asking the hard questions.”

Registration continues for the summer and fall semesters at TSTC. For more information, go to tstc.edu.

TSTC Engineering student surmounts daunting obstacles

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Twenty-four hours after he was born, Eloy Hernandez suffered a stroke. 

It was December 1, 2000,  and his parents had a new reality to deal with. The right side of their son’s body was partially paralyzed, the rest of his life shrouded in uncertainty. 

Twenty years later, there can be no doubt about his future or abilities.  

“I’ve always had curiosity about how things worked, and I was always taking things apart, inspecting every detail,” Hernandez said. “My physical disadvantage has made me learn to find multiple ways to work out situations, so learning about mechanical systems really attracted my interest in mechanical engineering.”

Now a student in the Texas State Technical College Engineering program in Harlingen, Hernandez has worked through significant mobility limitations caused by the stroke to become an acknowledged star student. It is no small accomplishment, given the rigorous and intensive curriculum that he and his classmates engage with on a daily basis.  

“Students struggle the most with learning to translate commonsense engineering and physics concepts into mathematical constructs,” TSTC Engineering Department Chair Hermes Chirino said. “Professors get to know the students that participate and engage the most. Eloy is among the few that are always carefully paying attention, always asking questions.” 

Graduates of the program, which offers an Associates of Science degree, can look forward to careers as engineers and mechanical engineering technicians or continue their studies for a bachelor’s degree. They master mechanical-electrical drafting technology and apply physics principles to developing test products or technical documents. Courses are difficult, but Hernandez feels that TSTC has prepared him to enter the workforce fully equipped.  

“Being a student at TSTC is one of the greatest things I’ve done. I’ve gained so much from the instructors and classes I have had,” Hernandez said. “I especially enjoyed taking Engineering Mechanics, Electrical Circuits, and Engineering Graphics.” 

The TSTC Access and Learning Accommodations office helps students like Hernandez navigate their studies with a minimum of difficulty and maximum support. Resources extend to course modifications and school website accessibility features. Equipping students with the support systems and accommodation services they need is just as integral to their success as academic programs. 

“I have very little motor control, which makes it difficult to accomplish most everyday tasks,” Hernandez said. “But the most important thing I’ve learned is to always be resourceful and never give up on the obstacles in life because of my physical disadvantage.” 

Hernandez is not the only student with a disability to pursue a highly difficult degree and excel. Arizona native and Baylor University Business Fellow William Badger can relate. 

“I found out sophomore year I was autistic, and before then I didn’t know I was struggling adjusting to school because of a developmental disability,” Badger said. “But I’ve pushed through with patience and an open mind to the world’s possibilities. College is a place where you grow not only your mind, but your character.” 

Hernandez is blazing a trail once thought impossible. 

“I’ve always had a mindset to never stop trying, no matter what obstacles or hardships come your way,” he said. 

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