Author Archives: Sarah Trocolli

Two TSTC Employees Recognized With Statewide Award

(Sweetwater) – Two employees at Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater have been honored for their outstanding service and dedication to TSTC.

James Spivey, a building maintenance supervisor, and Karen Waller, chief of staff of Strategic Relations, have received TSTC’s Chancellor’s Excellence Awards.

“Yearly, the Chancellor’s Excellence Award honors those who have consistently demonstrated a work ethic above and beyond their job descriptions, which aligns with our core values of excellence, accountability, service and integrity. On a daily basis James Spivey and Karen Waller exemplify these values; hence, their induction into this elite group is well deserved,” Rick Denbow, provost at TSTC in West Texas, said.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001 and has been given to more than 300 TSTC employees statewide. Recipients are nominated by their peers for their work toward advancing the technical college’s mission.

“The teammates who win this award model excellence for us all and are recognized for both their sound character and for advancing TSTC’s new direction,” said TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser. “Due to their caring and dedicated efforts, TSTC continues to make a difference in the employment success of our students.”

Spivey joined TSTC in 2016 as a maintenance worker and quickly moved up to a leadership role. He was surprised to learn he had won the award but sees it as a win for his team.

“This means my team is working really hard because they are the ones that make me look good. I am exceptionally proud of them, and I am personally flattered,” he said.

Spivey’s first encounter with TSTC was when he was in high school taking welding courses at what was then known as Texas State Technical Institute. He says fate must have been sending him a sign because he decided to work at TSTC after reconnecting with his high school sweetheart, another TSTC employee, who is now his wife.

“This is my home. A lot of places you work at they don’t even know your name, but here there is compassion. I will be here for as long as TSTC will have me,” he said.

Spivey said this is the first time he has received recognition for his work from a company.

Waller felt honored to win the award and said it fueled her passion even more.

“I truly appreciate that my peers felt I deserve this honor. Our work at TSTC is important because we can affect so many lives and have a positive impact in a student’s life and career,” she said.

Waller has dedicated her career to education and has worked the last 26 years in education administration. She started at TSTC in 2012 and promotes educational partnerships with other community colleges, universities and industry leaders.

“I am very proud of my accomplishments at TSTC and plan to continue to make TSTC a great place to work and also a great place for our students to get an education. We are here to educate our students and provide them with a foundation that will serve them the rest of their lives,” she said.

A Snyder native, Waller has lived and worked in the West Texas area her whole life. She is a certified public accountant and has a bachelor’s degree in interior design and a master’s degree in income tax accounting from Texas Tech University.

Spivey and Waller will join 33 other TSTC employees statewide who will be honored at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Excellence Awards Dinner and Celebration in May in Austin.

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

James Spivey, from Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, is a building maintenance supervisor. He was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 

Karen Waller, from Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, is chief of staff of Strategic Relations. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 

Two TSTC Alumni Recognized For Outstanding Service as TSTC Employees

(Sweetwater) – The journey from student to employee has come full circle for two Texas State Technical College alumni who have been honored for their dedication and skills as employees at TSTC in Sweetwater.

Maria Aguirre, statewide senior executive director of Communication and Creative Services, and Elizabeth Reyes, graphic designer, have received TSTC’s Chancellor’s Excellence Awards.

“The Chancellor’s Excellence Award is a yearly recognition for teammates who consistently go above and beyond their normal job duties to improve our students’, and/or our College’s, success. Maria and Liz display, on a daily basis, these lofty attributes,” Rick Denbow, provost at TSTC in West Texas, said.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001 and has been given to more than 300 TSTC employees statewide. Recipients are nominated by their peers for their work toward advancing the technical college’s mission.

“The teammates who win this award model excellence for us all and are recognized for both their sound character and for advancing TSTC’s new direction,” said TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser. “Due to their caring and dedicated efforts, TSTC continues to make a difference in the employment success of our students.”

Aguirre graduated from TSTC in Sweetwater in 1986 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in General Office Technology, an Associate of Applied Science degree in Accounting Systems and a Certificate of Completion in Information Processing. Starting as a student switchboard operator in a work-study program, Aguirre has been employed by TSTC for over 34 years.

“I have dedicated my adult life to TSTC, and I believe in it. I have seen how it changes individuals and families and generations of families — how it can have a positive impact. It’s been my life, and I am honored to be a recipient,” Aguirre said.

She was the first in her family to attend college and has since earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees while moving up within TSTC. She is also a recipient of the Avery Award of Excellence for TSTC staff.

Aguirre is a member of multiple educational organizations and has held several leadership positions as well. She is currently treasurer of the Texas Association of Community College Marketers.

Reyes was surprised to learn she won the award and was overwhelmed with emotion.

“This award means everything; I almost started to cry. It means I’m doing right by the people who hired me and by TSTC,” Reyes said.

Reyes graduated from TSTC in Waco in 2013 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Graphic Design and Advertising, and from TSTC in Sweetwater in 2014 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Software and Business Management. During her time as a student, Reyes worked as a campus housing resident assistant and a secretary for TSTC.

“I hope I can inspire others as my mentors here have inspired me. I am so thankful to TSTC in so many ways because they have shown me that they care about me and treat me like family,” Reyes said.

Reyes has worked with TSTC for over five years and plans to keep growing with TSTC.

Aguirre and Reyes will join 33 other TSTC employees statewide who will be honored at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Excellence Awards Dinner and Celebration in May in Austin.

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

Maria Aguirre, from Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, is the statewide senior executive director of Communication and Creative Services. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 
Elizabeth Reyes, from Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, is a graphic designer. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 

TSTC Hosts Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Information Seminar

(Sweetwater) – April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and Texas State Technical College is helping to raise awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence by partnering with representatives from Hendrick Medical Center and Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital to provide information seminars.

A session was held on the TSTC campus in Sweetwater on Friday, April 12, and more are scheduled for the summer and fall semesters.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women and one in nine men are victims of sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner.

Griselda Sanchez, director of Student Services at TSTC in Sweetwater, said she sees this as an opportunity to delve further into the information already given to faculty, staff and students.

“TSTC makes sure to have these discussions with everyone once they get on board with us. But, it’s important for us to give our people in-depth information of how to prevent, report and help those suffering from sexual assault or domestic violence because it can happen to anyone, anywhere,” Sanchez said.

Stephanie Lebowitz, trauma coordinator and emergency manager for Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital, led the domestic violence information session, while Ann Marie Willoughby, outreach clinical lead for Hendrick Medical Center, led the sexual assault session.

Lebowitz stressed the importance of empowering victims and educating residents of rural areas.

“The attorney general has recognized the prevalence of abuse in rural areas, and the lack of reporting and resources available.  So, we have been given the means to educate, spread awareness and help unite communities to rally around these victims and help them,” Lebowitz said.

Lebowitz and Willoughby said people think of domestic violence and sexual assault as separate, but they can be interconnected.

“Sexual assault is more common than burglary on most college campuses. I’m not saying TSTC, but at colleges in general students have a chance of being assaulted, and we want to educate them, and faculty and staff, so they can help each other,” Willoughby said.

For TSTC automotive instructor John Kirchmeier, the message hit home.

“Everything they said was spot-on. It’s important for us to know this information because we are with the students every day, and we may see something. We have to be the first line of defense,” Kirchmeier said.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at 800-656-HOPE (4673). The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 800-799-SAFE (7233).

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

Students, faculty and staff listened to presentations about domestic violence and sexual assault from representatives from Hendrick Medical Center and Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital.

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TSTC and 3M Brownwood Celebrate TWC Skills Development Fund Grant

(Brownwood) – Leaders from Texas State Technical College, the Texas Workforce Commission and 3M Brownwood gathered Thursday to commemorate a $78,771 Skills Development Fund grant aimed at improving 35 workers’ skills at the 3M Brownwood facility.

The grant will provide customized training for 33 incumbent and two new 3M Brownwood employees that will take place at both TSTC in Brownwood and the 3M Brownwood plant. Employees will receive training in electrical safety and craft skills training.

3M Brownwood EHS/Plant Engineering Manager Chad Benton believes this is a great opportunity to improve the skills of their employees.

“The increase of new technology at the plant means we need to increase the skills of our folks operating the technology,” Benton said. “This grant is a big success for TSTC, for us and for the community.”

Training is already underway and will be completed in July.

“TSTC has an impeccable record. They are following the governor’s orders and putting people to work. When we gather for events like this, it shows, and we see all the partnerships needed to create jobs and support the economy,” Julian Alvarez, commissioner representing labor for the Texas Workforce Commission, said.

Ray Tipton, executive director for the Brownwood Municipal Development District, said he is excited and thankful for what the grant will do not only for the 3M employees, but also for the city of Brownwood.

TSTC in West Texas Provost Rick Denbow agreed, saying he believes this is a success that will be felt beyond Brownwood.

“This is a win for everybody. It’s a win for the employees, the local economy, the state of Texas and for TSTC. We are putting people to work, and that’s what TSTC was chartered to do,” Denbow said.

The Skills Development Fund has been used since 1996 to localize workforce training for companies. It enables companies to work directly with local partners to develop training tailored to employees’ needs. The grant has assisted more than 4,200 employers statewide, according to the TWC.

3M Brownwood began manufacturing in 1965 and is a leading manufacturer of reflective sheeting for highway signs, license plates, protective clothing and security laminates throughout the world.

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

From left to right, Chad Benton, EHS/Plant Engineering Manager at 3M-Brownwood, Julian Alvarez, Commissioner for the Texas Workforce Commission and Rick Denbow, Provost at Texas State Technical College in West Texas hold the check for $78,771 from Texas Workforce Solutions.

 

Two Employees at TSTC Recognized for Outstanding Service

(Abilene) – Two employees at Texas State Technical College in Abilene have been honored for their dedication and service.

Matt Briggs, the clinical coordinator for the Emergency Medical Services program, and Susan Cowart, an instructor for academic English and Humanities, were selected to receive TSTC’s Chancellor’s Excellence Awards.

“The Chancellor’s Excellence Award is a yearly recognition for teammates who consistently go above and beyond their normal job duties to improve our students’, and/or our College’s, success. Matt and Susan display, on a daily basis, these lofty attributes,” Rick Denbow, provost at TSTC in West Texas, said.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001 and has been given to more than 300 TSTC employees statewide. Recipients are nominated by their peers for their work toward advancing the technical college’s mission.

“The teammates who win this award model excellence for us all and are recognized for both their sound character and for advancing TSTC’s new direction,” TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser said. “Due to their caring and dedicated efforts, TSTC continues to make a difference in the employment success of our students.”

Briggs joined TSTC in 2015 and said he was shocked by the recognition. He says he is determined to find out who nominated him so he can say thank you.

“It’s just such an awesome honor because there are so many people who are doing their job really well, and to be recognized as one of those people makes me want to keep going and do even better,” he said.

Briggs said TSTC has become part of his family and he loves working with people who have the same passion as he has.

“My favorite part of this job is watching our students walk across that stage and graduate because you know they are about to make a positive impact on the world,” he said.

After working as a paramedic for nine years, Briggs felt called to enter the education world and help people in a new way. He hopes to help expand the EMS program at TSTC and spread awareness of the need for more EMS professionals.

Cowart was also surprised to learn she was a recipient of the Chancellor’s Excellence Award.

“I was in a state of shock because I haven’t been here very long, but it felt so validating,” she said.

Cowart began teaching English and Humanities classes at TSTC in 2015. She teaches both online and in-person classes.

“Education is so powerful. And if I can help these students become good communicators, that opens so many doors on top of their technical skills,” she said.

Cowart earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Louisiana State University at Alexandria and her first master’s in English from DePaul University. She decided to pursue a second master’s in Education Technology and Instructional Design from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to better serve her students. She completed the degree while continuing to teach her regular course load.

“I am so glad I am at TSTC in West Texas because there is a definite sense of family and support here. It just makes you want to do your best,” Cowart said.

Briggs and Cowart will join 33 other TSTC employees statewide who will be honored at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Excellence Awards Dinner and Celebration in May in Austin.

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

Matt Briggs, from Texas State Technical College in Abilene, is the Clinical Coordinator for the Emergency Medical Services program. He was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 
Susan Cowart, from Texas State Technical College in Abilene, teaches academic English and Humanities. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 

More Than 50 Companies Represented at TSTC Industry Job Fair

(SWEETWATER) – More than 180 Texas State Technical College students and alumni attended the TSTC Industry Job Fair in Sweetwater on Tuesday, April 2. They had the opportunity to meet representatives from some 50 local, national and international companies.

TSTC provided free transportation to the Sweetwater campus for students coming from the Abilene, Breckenridge and Brownwood campuses. Students talked with representatives from companies looking to fill positions in various fields such as diesel, electrical power and controls, industrial maintenance, nursing, welding, and wind energy.

It was the first time some companies had visited the West Texas campus.

“I was surprised that TSTC had an RN program out here, and now that I know, we fully intend to take advantage of having this local resource,” Tara Camp, community marketing liaison for Cogdell Memorial Hospital, said.

For others, this was an event marked on their calendar every year.

“I go to as many of the job fairs that TSTC does as possible because of the type of training the students get and just the type of personality these students have. Their hands-on experience shows, and they have the willingness to keep learning on the job,” Bret A. Martinets, Human Resources manager at M&S Engineering, said.

The event was a homecoming for TSTC diesel program alumnus Josh McBride of Bruckner’s Truck Sales Inc.

“I hope these students just keep their eyes open and learn from every opportunity because it pays off,” McBride said.

Representatives from Oncor Electric Delivery spoke with students from TSTC’s Electrical Power and Controls, Industrial Maintenance, and Wind Energy programs and offered on-site interviews.

“We’ve got 10 positions we need to fill in Odessa alone, so there is a huge need across the state,” Brad Villa, M&C supervisor at Oncor, said.

TSTC in Abilene Electrical Power and Controls student Anthony Neighbors said he was impressed with the company turnout and hopes to find a job that allows him to travel.

“I’m a single dad, so I want something that provides for my son but that also lets me enjoy new places,” Neighbors said.

Neighbors spoke with representatives from Koenig & Bauer and said he felt like he had found the place for him.

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

More than 180 students and alumni attended the TSTC Industry Job Fair at TSTC in Sweetwater. More than 50 companies were represented. 

Houston Company Representatives Visit TSTC’s EPC Program

(ABILENE) – Representatives of a Houston company recently spoke to Electrical Power and Controls program students at Texas State Technical College about industry growth and the jobs outlook.

“We want TSTC students because we know that what they’re learning in the class is what we need in the field. We’ve hired students from TSTC before but this new location means more potential talent,” Alan Postiglione, Business Development Manager for Absolute Testing said.

Founded in 2008, Absolute Testing Services, Inc. has grown from having five technicians to an organization that serves customers internationally. One of the first five technicians was TSTC alumnus Blake Forester.Forester graduated in 2003 from TSTC in Waco with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Instrumentation Technology.

“Absolute drew me in because I would get the chance to start with a company from the ground up,” Forester said. “Since then, it’s been the people who are amazing and that they keep us busy with all different types of work that make me happy to be here.

He is not the only TSTC alumni recruited by Absolute. Cody Lindsey graduated from TSTC in Waco’s Electrical Power and Controls program in 2014 and started working for Absolute.

“You’re never treated like a number. (Absolute) is very family oriented and gives you the chance to learn and grow,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey says if there was any advice he could offer this class of graduates, it was to never be afraid to ask questions and find a company that aligns with your personal goals.

TSTC opened the Industrial Technology Center in Abilene last fall  with new programs in Electrical Power and Controls, Instrumentation Technology and Welding.

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

Representatives from Absolute Testing Services, Inc. spoke with TSTC in Abilene Electrical Power and Controls students about career opportunities. 

TSTC’s EMS Program Turns Experience Into College Credit

Time for an upgrade? The Emergency Medical Services program at Texas State Technical College in Abilene recently created a program that brings more opportunity to current and future students.

The EMS program now gives certified paramedics and emergency medical technicians college credit for some certifications they already have. The certifications are transferred toward earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Emergency Medical Services Paramedic to becoming licensed paramedics.

“We are offering an opportunity for students who already have some experience,” said Ronnie Pitts, an EMS instructor and the college’s statewide department chair. “We evaluate the certifications they have already obtained, and they can transfer those certifications toward our degree plan here at TSTC.”

To take advantage of the program’s credit by certification, a student must already be a certified EMT or paramedic.

“When these students graduate, they will have a college degree on top of all the previous certifications they already obtained to work in the field to be more marketable in their job hunt. It helps our students save time and money, and to increase their growth in the field,” Pitts said.

Pitts stated that students can save time because instead of having to retake the basic courses to be admitted into a paramedic program, TSTC will accept the Texas Department of State Health Services certifications as college credit after a student credit evaluation is completed along with a $25 fee per course that is transferred. Students are only required to take 15 hours, or 20 percent, of the degree plan at TSTC to earn the associate degree.

Randall Noe, a firefighter/paramedic with the Mineral Wells Fire Department, earned his certifications through another institution and was able to transfer all of his credits to TSTC.

“I want the degree because it can further your career,” Noe said. “I’m able to earn it online, so it doesn’t interfere with my work schedule much.”

This will be Noe’s first degree. He is expected to graduate in summer of 2019.

Zachary Henderson, a firefighter/paramedic with the Baytown Fire Department, earned his EMT basic certification at TSTC but his paramedic certification through a third party.

“My time at TSTC really helped me in the long run because it laid the foundation for other training,” Henderson said. “My goal is to become a teacher, and the degree is important to have because it gives me that option and the opportunity to go even further with my degree and get a bachelor’s.”

Henderson chose the program with TSTC because he can complete it online while still working in the Houston area. Henderson is expected to graduate with his associate degree in spring of 2019.  

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

TSTC’s EMS program is always accepting applications and hosts an information session every Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Industrial Technology Center at 2082 Quantum Loop in Abilene.

For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC in Abilene is offering state certified paramedics and ETMs the opportunity to earn an Associate degree and work toward becoming a licensed paramedic.

TSTC Nursing Student Prepares for Three-peat at SkillsUSA

(SWEETWATER) – Winning is so nice, she did it twice. Now Kacee Merrifield wants it again, and so does one of her classmates.

Merrifield is a nursing student enrolled in the associate degree program at Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater. She has competed at SkillsUSA two years in a row, winning state both times and placing nationally.

“It’s a very validating feeling when you get to test your skills against others in your industry, but it’s so much more than just winning a medal,” Merrifield said.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. In 2017 Merrifield placed first in state for Health Knowledge Bowl, continuing on to win fourth at nationals. In 2018 she won first in state for Nurse Assisting and sixth at nationals. She will compete in Practical Nursing this year.

“I love that SkillsUSA offers a platform to meet other professionals. You meet so many people and make friends and get to travel. I really enjoyed what Skills has done for me,” Merrifield said.

Hoping to win his second first-place title is fellow nursing student Corbin Calsoncin. Calsoncin and Merrifield both graduated from TSTC in Breckenridge with a certificate of completion in Vocational Nursing in 2018. Calsoncin is also currently enrolled in the nursing program at TSTC in Sweetwater.

“I was nervous my first couple times I competed, but I feel better now and am more prepared,” Calsoncin said.

Calsoncin placed second at state in Medical Math in 2017, but placed first in Math in 2018 and went on to place ninth at nationals. Calsoncin will compete in Medical Math again this year.

Not only do Merrifield and Calsoncin compete in SkillsUSA at the collegiate level, but they also judge the high school level.

“Judging is a chance for them to give back and share their experiences with others,” Marchelle Taylor, TSTC nursing instructor and West Texas SkillsUSA coordinator, said. “Skills allows them to interact with other students and industry around the state and nation.”

Merrifield and Calsoncin will compete at the SkillsUSA 2019 Leadership and Skills Conference on April 12-14 at TSTC in Waco.

Both students encourage anyone interested in nursing to visit TSTC and take advantage of the opportunities available with SkillsUSA.

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

TSTC in Sweetwater nursing students Corbin Calsoncin, left, and Kacee Merrifield, right, prepare to compete at SkillsUSA in April. 

TSTC Program Partners with Walker Sayle Unit to Combat Substance Abuse

(BRECKENRIDGE) – Texas State Technical College’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Walker Sayle Unit, a substance abuse felony punishment facility, are working together to change lives and fill a need in the Texas workforce.

A report filed by the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services to the 86th Legislature showed that 1.6 million adult Texans suffer from a substance use disorder (SUD). Furthermore, Texas has only about 17 SUD care providers per 1,000 of these adults, the third lowest in the nation.

To help combat this crisis, students enrolled in TSTC’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program can work as interns and later be considered for employment at the Sayle Unit.

“It’s hard to find staff in this industry because you have to have a passion for it and it’s a lot of work,” Kemberlee Lively, program director at the Sayle Unit, said. “About 90 percent of our staff comes from TSTC because they have a hands-on knowledge base and are open to our input. These students come here and do exactly what we need them to do.”

The TSTC Chemical Dependency Counseling program allows students to earn a certificate of completion or an Associate of Applied Science degree to become licensed chemical dependency counselor interns. This provides a career pathway to become licensed chemical dependency counselors.

“There is an opportunity to help those individuals who this may be their last chance for recovery,” Patty Bundick, TSTC Chemical Dependency Counseling program chair and senior instructor, said. “Many students are people in recovery or have a family member who suffered from an addiction and see it as a chance to give back to society and now want to help someone else in their recovery.”

For Sayle Unit Assistant Program Director Shana Vandergriff, TSTC offered her the chance for a career and to help others.

“I recommend TSTC, for sure, because I went there. I know what the students are learning, and TSTC helped me,” Vandergriff said. “(TSTC) made it easy for me as a single mom … in recovery to get enrolled. They still are like my family to this day when I go visit,” Vandergriff said.

Vandergriff graduated in 2011 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Chemical Dependency Counseling. She did her practicum as a student at the Sayle Unit.

Vandergriff encourages anyone who feels a calling and enjoys helping others succeed to consider the field.

“There is a huge need for people in this industry, and we are almost always hiring,” she said.

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

TSTC in Breckenridge Chemical Dependency Counseling students work with Walker Sayle to combat substance abuse.