Author Archives: Ben Barkley

TSTC instructors prepare for new EMT, paramedic students

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Texas State Technical College is preparing for the next group of emergency medical technician and paramedic students.

TSTC Emergency Medical Services instructor Richard Sharp said students who recently completed the program had a 100 percent passing rate on the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification exam, and each graduate found employment. This spring, a new group of students will begin their training.

“An entry-level EMT can expect to make $30,000 to $35,000 in their first year,” Sharp said. “An entry-level paramedic can expect to make in excess of $45,000 to $50,000 a year.”

The program is offered both online and with in-person lab sessions. Sharp said students will have opportunities for live discussions and lectures online each week.

“We have implemented all CDC guidelines when students are on campus to protect the student, their family and any patients they may encounter,” Sharp said of lab sessions.

The EMT certificate is a two-semester program. The first semester covers the core EMT courses that allow students to sit for National Registry certification. The second semester has two online courses, including medical terminology, anatomy and physiology.

A student must be certified as an EMT in Texas and be selected for the paramedic program, Sharp said.

“Once selected, the student will complete an additional three semesters of core classes and general education if attempting to earn an associate degree” he said. “At the completion of the didactic portion, the student will undergo one semester of capstone. The capstone semester places the student with a seasoned paramedic in an internship where the student will function as a paramedic. After successfully completing the internship, the student will be eligible to test for the National Registry paramedic certification.”

Sharp said the program is patient-centered, with a focus on providing competent EMTs and paramedics to the EMS industry in Texas.

Sharp is a 20-year veteran of 911 ambulance response as a paramedic. Timothy Scalley, a current paramedic/flight paramedic, is also an instructor in the program.

Sharp said students interested in the program may contact him at 325-203-2458 to learn about the enrollment process.

For more information, visit

Company upgrade leads Rowlette to TSTC program

(ABILENE, Texas) – Watching a multimillion dollar upgrade at his current workplace, Andrew Rowlette wanted to learn more about electrical systems.

The U.S. Air Force veteran works for Cargill Animal Nutrition in Abilene. He also started his fourth semester in Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Power and Controls program this fall.

“I was working for nine or 10 months, and the company decided to do a $2 million upgrade to the electrical system,” Rowlette said. “I was working with the contractor on some of the projects, and what he was doing sparked my interest.”

Rowlette did not have a background in electrical work, but a former co-worker and current TSTC instructor led him to the college.

TSTC Industrial Systems instructor Demetri Jones told him about the program and encouraged him to broaden his  knowledge.

“You really don’t realize how much electrical systems work in our daily lives,” Rowlette said. “I was really interested in that aspect of the program.”

Rowlette, who was a B-1 Bomber crew chief in the Air Force, said serving in the military helped him pay for college.

“I was able to get some free money and go to school to learn a new trade,” he said. “I took a year or so off before starting at TSTC.”

Rowlette said his employers are pleased that he is attending TSTC.

“It is helping me here, especially with some of the employees,” he said. “Some of them may not have the tech skills to solve a problem quickly. I can ask them if something is not working to look at another possible solution.”

Rowlette said he will continue to share what he learns at TSTC with his fellow employees.

“The best way to help someone is to pass on the knowledge,” he said.

TSTC offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Power and Controls at the Abilene, Fort Bend County, North Texas and Waco campuses.

For more information about TSTC, visit

Agility, fitness important for TSTC Wind Energy students

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Climbing a wind turbine is not as easy as it looks.

First-year students in Texas State Technical College’s Wind Energy Technology program are getting in shape for such climbs. Over the first two weeks of the semester, students had to stretch and prepare their bodies for the remainder of the program.

“We have stretched a lot to begin the program,” said Hunter Anglin, of Roscoe. “I started working out some before beginning school. I am happy I did that now.”

Anglin’s stepfather works for a crane company that is used by wind turbine crews in West Texas.

“He has taken me out there a few times in the past, and I was always fascinated by what I saw,” Anglin said.

He said the best advice his stepfather gave him was to go to college.

“He told me that I need to know what I am doing. He said it would be better to get a job knowing something than going in and not knowing anything,” Anglin said.

Evan Cheyne, of Jayton, said he is also preparing himself for future climbs. Knowing that he would need to be in shape was something he learned during a TSTC highlight day at Aspermont High School last spring.

The Wind Energy Technology department allowed students from Fisher, Kent and Stonewall counties to rappel down the mobile lab. It was part of a highlight day announcing the scholarship opportunity funded by California-based BayWa r.e. Wind.

“I talked to my counselors, and they told me about the scholarship. I was able to go down the tower, and I loved it,” he said. “If I did not get the scholarship, I probably would not be able to attend school.”

Cheyne said he liked how current TSTC students presented themselves in Aspermont. He added that was another reason why he chose to attend TSTC.

“Everyone has been quite accepting of the students. The third- and fourth-semester students have been helpful with anything we need,” he said.

Both students are looking forward to the program, knowing that at some point they will be able to climb turbines.

“I have to be in good shape to do that, so working out now is important,” Cheyne said.

For more information about TSTC, visit

TSTC students learn to use a robotic arm with Lincoln Logs

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Students in Texas State Technical College’s Electromechanical Technology program begin the day using an unusual combination: Lincoln Logs and a robotic arm.

During lab sessions, students practice moving a robotic arm through a log structure to drop a pin from its perch. The goal is to move the pin without knocking over any of the logs. It is one of the best ways for students to focus on the tasks ahead, said instructor Jeff Olney.

“I have always been interested in learning how machines work,” said Noah Grant, a first-year student from Snyder.

Grant focused intently as he maneuvered the robotic arm through the small opening to drop the pin, but he admitted that it took him time to get the hang of it.

“It was a little strange setting it up, but once you get in the groove, it is fun and exciting,” he said. “I wanted to stay after class and work on it some more.”

During the program, which is available at the Sweetwater campus exclusively, students will combine computers with control, electrical and mechanical systems that can be used to power machines in a variety of industries.

Kristopher Talamantes, a U.S. Air Force veteran from San Angelo, had some prior knowledge in the field. He was an electrician in the military before beginning classes at TSTC.

“I figured since I was out of the military, this would be the next step for me. It is in the same field I was working in, and this will help me expand my knowledge,” he said.

Talamantes toured TSTC in high school but opted for a career in the military. He knew that TSTC would be an option to further his education after his service.

“I was excited to come to school,” he said. “We started using the robotic arm on the first day. I was ready to come back to class and do it again.”

Talamantes said he looks forward to learning about all aspects of Electromechanical Technology.

“This is going to prepare me for working with the robot, as well as teaching me patience,” he said. “I am looking forward to learning how things work.”

As for choosing a career, students will have options after graduation. Grant said he would like to work in an electrical substation or a manufacturing plant.

“I think it would be pretty fun to design and sell machines,” he said.

For more information about TSTC, visit

TSTC student looks to break into male-dominated industry

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Leslie Shubert, of Abilene, knows she is entering a male-dominated industry.

Shubert is beginning her first semester in Texas State Technical College’s Diesel Equipment Technology program in Sweetwater.

“I know there are not many females in this field,” she said. “I think that is because there are a lot of heavy-duty aspects to the job. The males are stronger, but women can do the job if they set their mind to it.”

Shubert has always had an interest in big trucks. Her uncle operated a big rig, and Shubert rode along with him during his travels.

“He would never let me drive it,” she said.

A relative told her about the program at TSTC.

“He told me about the instructors and labs, and it sounded like something I wanted to do.”

Shubert said her family’s support while attending TSTC will be important.

“They are supporting me daily since I have to drive here from Abilene and then back again,” she said. “They know while I am at home there will be a lot of reading during the semester. I know I will have to pay attention to all the details while taking the online courses.”

Shubert was able to begin lab sessions this week and is looking forward to one area of work in particular.

“I really like working on engines. I can’t wait to disassemble and then assemble an engine,” she said. “I enjoy figuring out how things work.”

That started at a young age.

“I helped my dad rebuild a truck engine from scratch,” she said. “I knew then that I wanted to do this for a living. I have always liked tinkering with things.”

Once she completes the program, Shubert has a career goal in mind.

“I would like to either be a shop manager or own my own truck,” she said. “I have always liked trucks and even tractors. I know that working on them will be fun.”

Shubert hopes more women look into the diesel field. She did offer women some advice before pursuing it as a career.

“Do a lot of research. That is the most important thing before selecting any career,” she said.

For more information about TSTC, visit

TSTC begins fall semester at a distance

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – It was a different sight for many returning students at Texas State Technical College this week.

Students were greeted with entrance and exit signs, social distancing markers, and signs detailing TSTC’s COVID-19 safety protocols.

“Because of this pandemic, we have to follow these rules,” said Keith Aguirri, a Diesel Equipment Technology instructor in Sweetwater, during a student safety orientation session on Monday. “We are going to make sure each (student) is safe.”

It was a similar message from Welding Technology instructor Taylor Elston, who said students began the day learning safety protocols for classroom and lab sessions.

Lance Eastman, interim provost, said TSTC’s top priority is to keep students, faculty and staff safe while on campus.

“Students are now limited to the areas in the school necessary for their program,” he said. “TSTC has done everything possible to keep our students and faculty safe and assist any student who has struggled in this distance learning transition.”

During the student safety sessions, social distancing was practiced, and in each classroom, only one person sat at a table.

“Having these safety measures in place will make everyone feel better, and we will be working in a safe environment,” said Diesel Equipment Technology student Cade Palmer of Menard.

Daniel McVey, of Blackwell, said he is also happy that TSTC implemented the safety protocols.

“I am glad they are in place. This will allow me to get to work in the lab. The more lab work I can do, the better,” said the Diesel Equipment Technology student.

Automotive Technology students were also greeted with a safety session on the first day.

Layton Mosher, of Loraine, is entering his final semester in the program. He knew this semester would be challenging for him because it would be mainly classroom sessions.

“I am more of a hands-on learning type of person,” he said. “Having to do a lot of classroom work this semester will be challenging for me.”

Like Mosher, Keith Guffie, who is from Lubbock, has completed all of his lab requirements for the program.

“We will be working strictly in the classroom. We will work together to make sure we all come out on top,” he said.

For more information about TSTC, visit

Teenage TSTC graduate overcomes obstacles to earn EMS certification

(ABILENE Texas) – Dayna Williams admits that she has faced obstacles during her life.

After leaving high school as a sophomore, Williams completed her high school requirements through the Texas Online Preparatory School. Without a diploma in hand, Williams explained her situation and was able to enroll in Texas State Technical College’s Emergency Medical Services program.

This summer, at age 18, she completed her EMS certification and was among the candidates for graduation. When the summer class of 2020 was announced last month, Williams also learned that she had passed the national certification exam.

“I started the (TSTC) program when I was 17 years old. I had all the odds stacked against me,” she said. “One of the main things I learned coming out of the program is that for every odd stacked against you, there are people behind you, supporting your every move.”

Williams said she always wanted to work in the medical field and “fell in love with EMS” after taking courses at TSTC in Abilene.

She said obtaining her certification from TSTC and national certification on the same day was an “ecstatic” feeling.

“It was amazing to receive that news the same day the graduates were honored,” she said.

Among the obstacles that Williams said she faced was the drug and alcohol use by fellow teenagers. While she did not give in to the pressure of using, that temptation motivated her to complete high school early.

“Once I finished high school, I did not have a diploma or transcript in my hand,” Williams said. “I took a leap of faith and asked to enroll at TSTC. I was going into this blind. I thought to myself, ‘Do the thing you’re most terrified to do, and embrace your fears.’”

Williams faced those fears and emerged victorious.

“TSTC prepared me for a career,” she said. “The clinical experience was great. I am more of a hands-on person, and it was 10 times better going through clinical sessions than having to read about it.”

As for her high school friends, Williams said they were “amazed” at her accomplishments in such a short period of time.

“All of my friends stood behind me through college. Some of them said they wish they could have done what I did,” she said. “I told them to look into TSTC because they will prepare you for a career.”

For more information about TSTC, visit

It’s all in the family for TSTC graduate

(ABILENE, Texas) – Melinda Cannon had the support of her family while attending Texas State Technical College.

The mother of two TSTC graduates decided to go to school knowing she would need a support system. She is now a candidate for graduation with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Health Information Technology.

Cannon, who works at Comanche County Medical Center, is now preparing to take the Registered Health Information Technician exam.

“My kids gave me a lot of help, especially on the technical side,” Cannon said. “I did not know much about building websites and using computers. I had to tell them, ‘Mom does not have a clue.’ It was also great to have a husband who would allow them to help.”

Cannon’s daughter, Rachel, received an associate degree from TSTC in Health Information Technology and is working in the same hospital as her mother.

“She is a medical coder at the same hospital. We work in the same building, but there is a wall between us,” Cannon said.

Cannon has always been interested in the medical field. After raising her family, she decided to pursue college.

“I knew that I was not that knowledgeable with computers, so I decided to go to school,” she said. “I had a background in the medical field, but the knowledge of today’s terminology was something I would need to learn.”

She chose TSTC because her daughter and son, Caleb, both earned degrees at the college. Her son graduated from the Drafting and Design program.

“I knew it would be hard going back to school at the age of 50, but I was able to get things together,” she said. “Overall, TSTC prepared me to do well in the health care field. It introduced me to other systems that I was not used to using.”

Cannon said the online classes allowed her to work at her own pace.

“I was able to learn more about medical terminology and what to expect in the field,” she said.

The family will celebrate her accomplishment during the virtual summer commencement celebration available on social media.

“We are planning to gather around the computer and watch the celebration,” she said. “It will be a great family moment.”

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC celebrates 50 years in Sweetwater

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – When classes begin at Texas State Technical College’s Sweetwater campus on Monday, Aug. 31, it will mark 50 years of service in West Texas.

On Sept. 1, 1970, the first classes at the former Texas State Technical Institute Rolling Plains campus were held in Sweetwater. The college offered seven day courses and eight night courses during the first year. Today, TSTC offers associate degrees in eight different programs at the campus.

TSTC Chancellor and CEO Mike Reeser has a special affinity for the Sweetwater campus.

“I had the honor of serving 10 years at the Sweetwater location of TSTC. So, I know firsthand how the Sweetwater campus reflects the peerless work ethic and the friendly nature of the people who make West Texas a very special place,” he said. “Want to find the ethos that defines the state of Texas? Go to TSTC in Sweetwater.”

The Sweetwater community began working on plans to request a campus in 1969. The Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce, on May 2, 1969, listed as its top priority that a vocational-training school be built at the former air base in Sweetwater.

“We feel that this is a must for this area and that it would fill a definite need,” wrote Wade E. Forester, chamber president, to then Texas Gov. Preston Smith. “We are looking at the surrounding areas and feel that this would turn the tide concerning the many problems that the West Texas area is facing in reference to industrial development and training.”

Since its inception, the Sweetwater campus’ mission of training students for the Texas workforce has not changed. 

Texas State Rep. Stan Lambert recently voiced his appreciation for TSTC’s value to the area and the state.

“Thank you, TSTC, for 50 years of service and partnership in our community. Never straying from your original goal of ‘training Texans to work in Texas,’ you provided so many opportunities for rural residents to enhance the Texas workforce,” Lambert said. “I am proud to partner with you and look forward to seeing what TSTC in Sweetwater accomplishes in the next 50 years.”

Texas State Sen. Charles Perry, a native of Sweetwater, is also proud of the services provided at TSTC.

“Both employers and employees have benefited from the commitment to train and place tomorrow’s workforce to meet the needs of our growing state,” Perry said. “The model of ‘we don’t get paid unless the employee gets paid’ is one that maximizes taxpayers’ resources. TSTC’s legacy of providing the community a skilled workforce, and the families that workforce represents, is worthy of recognition and continuation of the state of Texas’ investment and support.”

Officials from Sweetwater and Nolan County also know the importance of the local campus.

“I took computer classes at TSTC 30 years ago,” said Sweetwater Mayor Jim McKenzie. “The importance of TSTC has not changed to our community and state since it first opened 50 years ago.”

Nolan County Judge Whitley May said the college has been and will continue to be an asset.

“TSTC has been a huge asset for our county and trade industry for years. It has helped people get jobs since it opened,” he said. “I look forward to another 50 years of TSTC in Nolan County.”

Ken Becker, executive director of the Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development Municipal Development District, said TSTC’s progression in Sweetwater is “quite amazing.”

“In this day and age, the ability to train workers for the marketplace and creating a talent pipeline is very important in economic development. We have a shortage of skilled labor for different sectors that can’t wait four to six years for a student to go through a program and graduate,” Becker said. 

“Companies have different entry points, and the ability of a person to go from student to productive employee in one to three semesters has provided a quicker pipeline of skilled workers,” he continued. “Just like inventories, we need just-in-time skilled workers to fill the talent gaps as companies retool to compete in an ever-changing business environment. Sweetwater is fortunate that community leaders some 50-plus years ago fought for TSTI to be located at historic Avenger Field, home of the WASP training.”

The first director of the campus was Elmer Kuntz, and J.N. Baker replaced him in January 1970. D.A. “Bill” Pevehouse was named the campus’ manager of instruction. Later in 1970, a name that would become a fixture for the campus was hired. Homer K. Taylor, who was an assistant principal at Sweetwater High School, joined TSTI as the campus’ assistant manager.

According to TSTC archives, 101 students were enrolled full time and 50 students were enrolled in evening classes during the first trimester.

When the first academic year ended, 43 students made up the graduation class. During the ceremony, TSTI President Roy Dugger announced the naming of the automotive building for Wade Forester, a Sweetwater auto dealer and businessman.

By 1973, the Sweetwater campus was considered one of the fastest-growing technical-vocational schools in the state.

“The old days of simply being willing to work have passed, and now during the technical age it is imperative that quality, trained technicians and craftsmen meet the entry requirements for the demanding need of business and industry,” Taylor said in an Aug. 5, 1973, San Angelo Standard Times article.

By 1975, TSTI graduated 446 students from one-year programs and another 1,494 from other special instructional courses.

With more student interest, state officials took notice and dedicated $1.9 million for a construction project in 1977. The project included a building for the new diesel mechanic program, which started in 1980. In 1979, funding for apartments to house 96 students was approved by TSTI’s regents.

The campus’ second decade began with more construction as $4.2 million was approved by Gov. Bill Clements for expansion. The funding included a vocational technology building for licensed vocational nursing, dental assistant, advanced emergency medical technician training and electronics. A graphics technology building and physical plant were also funded by the state. The vocational building was named for Pevehouse, who died in 1981.

In 1997, the Student Center opened its doors to the college and community. Many events, from banquets and fashion shows to fundraisers and job fairs, have been held in the facility over the years.

The campus has hosted many visitors over the years, including state and national officials. Former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, Gov. Dolph Briscoe, Gov. Mark White, U.S. Rep. Charles Stenholm, and even a group of U.S. Marines who trained on diesel engines have walked the campus grounds.

One person who traversed the campus since it opened was Taylor, who was named the campus’ president in 1999. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 2006. He was honored by the college when it named  the main entrance to campus Homer K. Taylor Drive.

During his more than 36 years with the college, Taylor saw the Sweetwater campus grow and in 1991 witnessed TSTI undergo a name change to TSTC. He kept the mission of training Texans for the workforce a top priority.

“The practicality of TSTC has been the real reason many of our graduates have been successfully placed in a job,” Taylor said in a 2006 interview.

Taylor’s replacement in Sweetwater and West Texas was Reeser. Under Reeser’s leadership, TSTC has continued the mission of “placing more Texans in great-paying jobs.”

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC helps Nursing graduate achieve career goal

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Jere Lowe, of Bryson, had a career goal.

Due to unforeseen circumstances in her life, Lowe put her dream of being a traveling nurse on hold to take care of her family. When an opportunity to pursue her goal opened, Lowe enrolled in Texas State Technical College’s Nursing program.

The longtime licensed vocational nurse is a candidate for graduation this summer through TSTC’s licensed vocational nurse transition to registered nurse (LVN to RN) program.

“I had some things happen in my life, and I had to take care of that first,” said Lowe, who has been an LVN for 22 years.

Prior to enrolling at TSTC, Lowe lived through the death of her first husband due to the swine flu pandemic. She later remarried, and her current husband is being treated for cancer.

She found the time to take classes, work at Faith Community Hospital in Jacksboro and care for her husband.

Through it all, Lowe said it was her husband’s encouragement to reach her goal that inspired her to become an RN.

“I want to thank my husband. This has been a four-year journey for us. The last two years, we have not been able to travel. It has all been me in school,” she said.

Lowe plans to remain in Jacksboro until she can become a traveling nurse. She knows nursing agencies look to hire people who have at least one year of RN experience. Lowe is also planning to further her education in the future.

The traveling nurse concept began in response to the nursing shortage in the U.S. Lowe said she hopes to work for an agency that will send her to help people in need. 

“It is a great way to see America, get paid and, most importantly, help people,” she said.

Lowe was drawn to a nursing career at a young age. When she was a child, a family member was a nurse.

“She would walk in back when (nurses) wore the dresses and hats. I was hooked,” she said. “I knew then I wanted to help people. I wanted to give them the peace that everything was going to be OK.”

Lowe said completing the hybrid classes that combined online classes and in-person clinicals at TSTC helped her at home. She was able to work and care for her husband and help in the hospital’s emergency room.

“The instructors were always there, maybe a little too much,” she said. “I remember texting one of my instructors at 2 or 3 in the morning after getting off from work. I was surprised they would respond to me that late.”

Lowe said that type of dedication is what the nursing field is about.

“We know we have to be ready to work at any time. It is a 24/7 job for us,” she said.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to