Author Archives: Amanda Sotelo Sotelo

TSTC Day at the Capitol 2019

Texas State Technical College was recently presented with a resolution from the Texas House of Representatives and Senate recognizing February 27, 2019 as TSTC Day at the Capitol.

The resolution was presented to TSTC for its continued success at boosting the state’s economy and providing industry with skilled labor.  

TSTC leadership, advocates and students also met with Texas lawmakers and staff members to discuss the importance of a technical education for Texas and treated everyone to an ice cream social.

Student Success Profile – Abraham Vasquez

Abraham Vasquez is a Computer Networking and Security Technology student at Texas State Technical College.

The Raymondville native expects to earn his associate degree this semester.

When the 24-year-old isn’t busy studying, he can be found working at TSTC’s Talent Management and Career Services office as a work-study program employee.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan on working in my field immediately. I’ve already begun the job search and application process. I hope to find something as a network specialist.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to work at an information technology department as a network specialist for either a hospital or school district, where I know there’s never a dull moment and there’s always something to repair and fix.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment has been making it this far. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel; commencement is near. I’ve always had a knack for computers and seeing how they work, and now I’ll be able to call myself a college graduate in my field.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is that there’s always room to learn more, and it’s important to keep learning so I can make room for growth in my career.

Who at TSTC has influenced your success the most?

The people who have influenced my success the most are, of course, my instructors, but also my classmates. My classmates and I have been together since the beginning of the program, and we have grown as family and friends. We help each other out, collaborate, and push each other to continue and do better.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to not procrastinate. I was a terrible procrastinator. I can admit that, but it was always stressful. So I hope someone takes my advice to heart and starts projects and assignments sooner than later.

To serve and protect: TSTC swears in new police officer

Walberto Villarreal was inspired to pursue a career in law enforcement when as a little boy he would watch his father put on his security guard uniform.

And this week his dream of becoming a police officer was realized when he was sworn in to the Texas State Technical College Police Department.

“I’m happy to be here at TSTC,” said Villarreal. “From the moment I stepped on campus, I could feel this was the place for me. So when the offer to be on their force was extended, I accepted it. It’s an honor.”

The Brownsville native was sworn in during a ceremony by Judge Eloy Cano Jr., with his family, colleagues and friends as witnesses to the prestigious event.

“I’m so excited to have Villarreal on our team,” said TSTC Police Chief Eduardo Patino. “He possesses all of the qualities we look for in an officer.”

Patino said that in addition to skills and experience, TSTC police officers must observe and practice TSTC’s core values of excellence, integrity, accountability and service.

“We support our policing principles and TSTC’s mission,” said Patino. “It’s important that we introduce these values and our new officers to the community we serve. And it was Villarreal’s character, eagerness to learn and self-discipline that stood out above the rest. We have no doubt that he will succeed in our department.”

Prior to arriving at TSTC, Villarreal worked as a detention officer in Bayview, where he said he received his first look into law enforcement.

“This really was a stepping stone for me,” said the 31-year-old. “This is when I knew for sure that law enforcement was the field for me.”

Villarreal went on to graduate from a local police academy, and he was determined to set a good example for his 3-week-old son.

“It was my father who inspired me to pursue law enforcement. Because of him, I am who I am,” he said. “I would watch him every day, which is what all kids have to do to learn. And I hope that I’m able to be a great inspiration to my son also.”

Villarreal’s goal as part of the TSTC Police Department is to serve and protect his campus and community, continue learning and growing, and gain experience that will help him better serve.

TSTC Provost Cledia Hernandez said of the police department and its officers, “We are appreciative of the service each and every officer provides to our campus and community. It is an honor to have them with us. They are the ones that make our campus feel safe.”

TSTC prides itself on being a great place to work and offers competitive pay and a full benefits package. To search or apply for available jobs, visit

TSTC paramedic program offers credit by certification

The Emergency Medical Technician program at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen recently made changes that bring more opportunity to current and future students.

Last year, after being under Workforce Training and Continuing Education for more than a decade, TSTC’s EMS program received the accreditation it needed to offer a certificate and associate degree track.

With this move, the program is now able to accept financial aid and offer students credit by certification.

“This is a huge move for our program and for our students,” said TSTC EMS instructor Ruben Ramirez. “It helps our students save time and money, and doesn’t delay their growth in the field.”

To take advantage of the program’s credit by certification, a student must already be a certified EMT basic or advanced EMT seeking to become a paramedic, or a certified paramedic seeking an associate degree.

The students’ Texas Department of State Health Services certification and experience will be considered when determining credit.

Ramirez said unlike other colleges that require the students to retake the EMT Basic courses to be accepted into a paramedic program, TSTC will accept the department of state health certification as college credit after a student credit evaluation is complete.

“These students are working in the field already and getting plenty of experience,” said Ramirez. “We trust that they are skilled and ready for the challenges of becoming a paramedic.”

Ramirez added the student credit evaluation does come with a $75 fee, which is $25 per course that is transferred, whereas repeating the EMT Basic program can costs students between $1,000 and $3,000.

TSTC EMS student Jacob Luna is an advanced EMT. He received both his EMT certificates from another institution and, because all of his credits transferred, he is on the path to becoming a paramedic.

“I have seen the light at TSTC. Easier process, less fees and less hassle,” said Luna. “I’m finally finishing what I started and no limits or barriers. I’m grateful for the opportunity TSTC has given me.”

The 36-year-old is a full-time dad, full-time student and full-time firefighter with the City of Pharr, where he has been for nearly two decades. He expects to graduate in Spring 2020.

“Becoming a paramedic will allow me to practice a wider scope of patient care, will give me more job opportunities and will show my son that anything is possible,” said Luna.

Richard “Erick” McLaughlin was only 18-year-old when he started working as a firefighter. He spent 10 years with the San Juan Fire Department, and currently works with the Edinburg Fire Department and as a full-time EMT Basic with MedCare EMS in McAllen.

“My end goal is to become a paramedic,” said McLaughlin. “I could have chosen to go anywhere, but I chose TSTC because they accepted my certificate as credit and now I’m pursuing my associate degree.”

“I recommend this program to anyone looking to grow in this field,” McLaughlin added. “From my experience, many of my own colleagues have been encouraged to enroll at TSTC.”

The paramedic program takes one year to complete and runs January to January. Students must complete clinical and practicum rotations before graduating.

A student enrolled in the paramedic program can either obtain a certificate or associate degree.

Once a student graduates from the program and passes the  National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam, he/she can work anywhere across the country with emergency medical services, schools, hospitals or as safety officers.

“This program was designed and created to mirror our program in West Texas to ensure that our students find success,” said Ramirez. “There is a demand for skilled paramedics in the industry and this will help fill that gap.”

TSTC’s Paramedic program is always accepting applications and hosts an information session every Tuesday at 2 p.m. in Building D, Room 114.

For more information, call 956-364-4741 or 956-364-4740.

Scholarships rev up TSTC automotive students

Texas State Technical College Automotive Technology students in Harlingen and Waco will receive scholarships thanks to a San Antonio-based automotive organization.

The non-profit Community of Automotive Professionals, which runs CarFest in San Antonio, rewarded TSTC’s Automotive Technology students for participating in last year’s event with a $30,000 check for scholarships and equipment.  

The five TSTC students in Harlingen who were awarded $500 scholarships are Christopher Aguilar, Luis Barrientos, Christopher Machado, Jose Munoz, Noel Soto and Joshua Vasquez.

To be eligible for a scholarship, TSTC in Harlingen and Waco Automotive Technology students must maintain a 3.25 grade-point average.

Many of the students who received the scholarship have also helped at CarFest with setup, takedown and vehicle maintenance.  

“Many students struggle to come to school because of economic stresses,” said TSTC Automotive Technology instructor Miguel Zoleta. “The scholarships give students the opportunity to use the automotive scholarships to pay for tuition, books, tools and other expenses such as gas and meals.”

Vasquez, who is pursuing an associate degree in Automotive Technology, said he was overcome with surprise and gratitude when he learned he was a scholarship recipient.

“By getting this scholarship I am able to continue pursuing a childhood dream: becoming a college graduate,” said Vasquez. “I was homeschooled and choosing a career was difficult, but I knew I loved working with my hands. TSTC’s automotive program was a good choice for me.”

Vasquez said there are not enough words to express his gratitude toward the Community of Automotive Professionals and to his TSTC instructors for believing in him and giving him this opportunity.

Machado, also an Automotive Technology student, shared the same sentiment and said he was humbled to have been selected for this scholarship.

“I never expected this to happen,” said Machado. “This is going to help get me get closer to building my career and a successful future.”

Machado already works in Walmart’s automotive department and added that this scholarship will allow him to excel in studies and pursue his dream of one day owning an automotive business.

TSTC in Waco Automotive Technology students who also received a scholarship are Patrick Bruce, David Davis, Ramiro Hernandez, Jaeshon Jackson, Patrick Kaltenbach, Kevin Le, Krystal Marshall, Jens Moen, Joel Ramirez, Samuel Shimek, Shelby Terry, Gabriella Villarreal, Ricardo Villegas and Andrew Whatley.

TSTC in Harlingen and Waco Automotive Technology students will once again participate in this year’s CarFest 2019 from April 5-7 at Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio.

For more information on TSTC Automotive Technology, visit

Student Success Profile – Lizett Garza

Lizett Garza is a Health Information Technology student at Texas State Technical College; she expects to earn her associate degree in Spring 2020.

The 32-year-old said she has always been interested in the medical field and said her sister inspired her to leave a customer service job of nearly a decade to return to school.

The Rio Hondo native and mother of three, who also works as work study with Talent Management and Career Services, said she is excited to be working toward a career and hopes to set an example for her children.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan on returning to TSTC to pursue the vocational and registered nursing programs.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to work as a nurse in a clinical setting. My ultimate goal is to earn a bachelor’s degrees and someday manage a clinic.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment has been maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade-point average after being out of school for so long.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned about life is the importance of an education. When I left my full-time job to return to school I needed to find something else, but it has been difficult without a degree. So I’m grateful for the opportunity to work on campus.

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

My Health Information Technology advisor and instructor Ana Gonzalez and instructor Aida Rocha have been my greatest influences. They push us to be the best version of ourselves. They prepare us for our careers and for life; they truly cares about our success.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?  

My advice for future TSTC students is to stay focused and stay in school. When life happens it’s easy to quit, but hang in there.

Student Success Profile – Alissa Sosa

Alissa Sosa, 19, expects to earn her associate degree this semester from Texas State Technical College.

The Harlingen native is an active member of the TSTC Leadership Academy and the Chemical Technology Club. With her participation in both organizations, Sosa has also been able to complete community service activities such as beach cleanups.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan on transferring to the University of Texas at San Antonio to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry.

What’s your dream job?

My ultimate dream is to earn a Ph.D. and work in medical research to find cures for serious illnesses and diseases. I want what I do to make a difference in other’s lives.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishments are one: getting this far in my education. I’m almost graduating and I never thought it was possible. I seriously considered joining the army to afford a valuable education that would lead to success. And two: I’ll be graduating from the Leadership Academy in a couple of months and the lessons I have learned and the experience I have gained have been a great accomplishment for me.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

I have learned that I am capable of anything. Before coming to TSTC I doubted my abilities and I never saw a future for myself. And being here has helped me realize with hard work and dedication I can achieve what I set my mind to. I now have a direction and I know what I want to do and where I want to go.

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

My Chemical Technology instructor Everardo Villarreal and former department chair Robert Hernandez have had the most influence in my success. They have both really encouraged me and pushed me to keep going when times get tough. They have helped me believe in myself.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to reach out if you need help. TSTC has so many resources that can assist students who are having trouble in class or in life. Also, get involved on campus. Yes, school can be stressful, but TSTC also makes it a priority to make it fun with its different clubs and student activities.

Up, Up and Away: TSTC alum finds career as flight mechanic

Isaiah Arizmendi is about to reach new heights with an associate degree from Texas State Technical College and a new career at World Atlantic Airlines.

The 20-year-old graduated in December 2017 and December 2018 with an associate degree in Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology, respectively.

“Aviation is in his blood,” said TSTC Aviation Maintenance instructor Leo Guajardo. “Arizmendi has a quiet confidence and I have seen him grow into a well-rounded student and professional.”

For the Rio Hondo native, his journey took flight at TSTC while a junior at Rio Hondo High School and a dual enrollment student.

And with an uncle and cousin in the field, a passion for aviation and working with his hands, as well as, a recommendation from his high school counselor, Arizmendi knew aviation maintenance at TSTC was the path he was supposed to follow.

“Never did I imagine I would have a career at 20,” said Arizmendi. “It’s because of dual enrollment and TSTC that I was able to get ahead.”

Arizmendi was bussed to TSTC every day, even with a broken collar bone from a sport injury, until he graduated from high school in 2016.

He said he left high school with confidence and peace of mind because he knew he was off to finish what he started.

“I had already come this far, so I planned on earning my degree,” he said. “And unlike many students in a senior class, I graduated with ease because I knew where I was going and what I was going to do.”

He said the training he received at TSTC fully prepared him to obtain his Federal Aviation Administration airframe and powerplant licenses, both required to work in the industry.

The exams for the licenses are a three-part tests that includes written, oral and application.

Arizmendi said he went into the testing room with assurance and fully prepared thanks to his instructors.

“All of my instructors were great and they made my TSTC experience a positive one,” said Arizmendi. “They’re so full of knowledge and ready to help. They kept me moving forward. Really, they keep all of their students going.”

Going and going, until they snag a position like Arizmendi’s at World Atlantic Airlines in Brownsville, or other aviation facilities across the Rio Grande Valley and statewide.

Arizmendi said he is looking forward to his new-found career as a flight mechanic, meaning he will be accompanying the pilots in the planes he repairs and maintains.

In about one week, he will have the opportunity travel the United States and abroad with this position.

“I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to travel and see new places,” he said. “But with this position comes great responsibility and I’m ready to tackle what comes my way.”

Included with the benefits of travel, he will also receive a full benefits package and competitive salary.

“There is no doubt that Arizmendi will achieve in this position,” said Guajardo. “I’m so proud of the aviation professional he has become and my wish for him is that he continues moving up.”

A wish Guajardo has for all of his students in an industry where the demand for aviation mechanics is increasing at a fast rate.

According to a Boeing pilot and technician outlook report, more than 754,000 new maintenance technicians will be needed to maintain the world fleet over the next 20 years.

“The demand in our field isn’t spoken about a lot. It’s often overlooked,” said Guajardo. “It’s a demanding career, but a rewarding one. Just ask any of our graduates; that number is also increasing.”

As for Arizmendi, he said he recommends the airframe and powerplant programs to anyone with an interest in aviation, and TSTC in general.

“TSTC changed my life drastically,” said Arizmendi. “They connect people to opportunities and provide the resources necessary for success.”  

Aircraft Airframe and Powerplant Technology is also offered at TSTC’s Abilene and Waco campuses, with a certificate and associate degree track.

For more information, visit

TSTC students build their way to success

Students in Building Construction Technology at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen are building sheds and gazebos as part of their class project.

In previous years, when the work was complete, the project would be torn down to reuse the materials, but this year things are different.

“Our students feel so accomplished when they finish, that making them tear it down is so disheartening,” said Building Construction Technology instructor Rick Vargas. “So this year, we’re selling their projects to the community.”

The students in Construction Technology 2 and Construction Management courses have been working for nearly two semesters to complete the gazebos and sheds.

“They have built each one from the foundation, up,” said Vargas. “It’s a long process and takes about three semesters to complete, but after this students have a better understanding of the construction process and are pretty much ready to work in industry.”

Each shed and gazebo is built with care and love according to Building Construction Technology student Salvador Hernandez.

“Construction is a passion for us here in this program,” said Hernandez. “We take pride in what we build. It’s been an elaborate process to ensure everything is of the highest quality and workmanship. We ensure that everything is well built.”

Salvador was pursuing a nursing degree at a four-year university prior to withdrawing and transferring to TSTC to pursue his love of construction, and said this particular project has taken his skills to the next level.

“I have been able to get experience in a little bit of everything by doing this project,” he said. “From the foundation and framing to the roofing, I feel better prepared to hit the ground running when I graduate next semester.”

Vargas said the idea behind this project is to give his students a real-world experience that will give them a hands-on approach to practice their skills from construction to management.

“Our overall goal is to create well-rounded students and get them placed in good paying jobs,” said Vargas. “And this project has always played a huge role in that.”

Jaqueline Vidal said this project has taught her a lot about her strengths, especially as a woman in a male-dominated career.

“What I’ve learned is that I can do anything the boys can do,” she said. “There are no limits for me as a woman and this project has taught me that.”

The gazebo that Vidal has been working on has already been sold and she said while she is proud and feels accomplished, she is also sad to see it go.

“It’s rewarding to know that someone liked our work enough to buy this gazebo and I hope they love it as much as we do,” she said.

The sheds and gazebos are not being sold to make a profit, but to merely cover the cost of materials the students use in class.

“We just want our students to gain experience and have their work recognized and appreciated. And take note: these students have produced a good-quality product,” said Vargas.

For information on how to purchase a shed or gazebo, call 956-364-4770.

Building Construction Technology is also offered at TSTC’s Waco campus, to learn more visit    

TSTC instructors present at national conference in Washington

Two Education and Training program instructors from Texas State Technical College in Harlingen recently garnered some national attention in Washington, D.C., when they made a presentation at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conference.

“This was our chance to share all of the things that make our program unique and highlight the work we’re doing at TSTC,” said Myriam Aguila, TSTC Education and Training department chair. “There are wonderful things happening at our college, and we wanted to recognize that.”

NAEYC is one of the largest early childhood education nonprofit associations in the U.S. It represents nearly 60,000 teachers, para-educators, center directors, trainers, college educators, policymakers and advocates from all over the world.

At the annual NAEYC conference, educators gather to share lessons, classroom strategies and ideas.

Aguila, who has presented internationally and serves as a board member for the NAEYC chapter in Texas and as president for the Rio Grande Valley chapter, and instructor Mary Elizabeth Hollmann not only were chosen from among hundreds who submitted presentation proposals, but also were the only ones from the RGV.

“It’s prestigious to get selected,” said Hollmann. “We presented to people from all over the world. It was a great experience.”

Their presentation, which was part of the conference’s Spanish track, was titled “All Children Can Learn Through Dramatic Play.” It focused on how classroom play centers that imitate places like kitchens, post offices and doctors’ offices encourage speaking, vocabulary, reading, spelling and writing.

“Just as it’s important to include hands-on learning for our college students, it’s of the same importance for our little ones, if not more,” said Hollmann. “This type of play and learning allows the children to exercise different parts of the brain, and also encourages social and problem-solving skills.”

Aguila and Hollmann also included some of their students’ work, such as prop boxes, to showcase in their presentation. The prop boxes included themed learning tools used as educational materials at TSTC’s NINOS Head Start program.

“The prop boxes were a hit with the people in our presentation,” said Aguila. “We had professionals enjoying the learning tools and playing with the props inside. Many said this was something they wanted to utilize with their students.”

TSTC in Harlingen’s Education and Training program is the only one of its kind among the college’s 10 campuses. It focuses on early childhood education through sixth grade, and offers certificates and associate degree tracks.

It is one of the largest programs at TSTC, with more than 400 TSTC students and close to 200 high school dual-enrollment students from school districts in Harlingen, Los Fresnos and San Benito.

The program also has a long-standing partnership with Texas A&M University-Kingsville, allowing credits to transfer so students can pursue a bachelor’s degree in education.

“Many of our students find positions at the schools where they complete their practicums,” said Aguila. “And this is great for our students and our program; this is how they craft their profession. But, as educators, we want them to reach for more. So we provide them with opportunities.”

Education and Training also offers evening and weekend classes so every student has the chance to be successful. As for Aguila and Hollmann, they are already preparing their presentation proposal for this year’s NAEYC conference in Tennessee.