Author Archives: Kristina Campos-Davis

Spirit of giving: TSTC helps student avoid homelessness

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – From one day to the next, Texas State Technical College student Josephine Delgado faced homelessness. But TSTC was there to make sure that did not happen.

Delgado said that the Sunday she lost the security of having a roof over her head began as a fun day. She headed to church without a care in the world.

But when she got home, her life turned upside down.

“I lived with my sister in an apartment only down the road from the college,” she said. “It was a perfect setup. But without warning, my sister relocated to Corpus Christi with her children.”

Delgado had recently earned her associate degree in Business Management Technology at TSTC and was finishing up a few extra classes. She found herself worrying about where she would live, how she would pay for it, and how she would get to school and work if she had to move back to her former home in San Perlita more than 30 minutes away.

“I was panicking. I only had one day to find a new place. I had no car, so moving home was not an option,” said the 23-year-old.TSTC Housing student Josephine Delgado

Immediately Delgado put a phone call in to some friends and mentors at TSTC Student Life and Engagement, where she was a student worker.

She was advised to speak to TSTC housing and student support representatives to take a look at her options.

“Without the help I received from TSTC, and so quickly, I don’t know what would have happened,” said Delgado. “But as quickly as I lost my home, TSTC helped me find another.”

TSTC assisted Delgado with scholarships and grants to get her settled into her new home on campus.

The scholarships and grants awarded to Delgado came from donations contributed to TSTC’s employee giving campaign.

Employees can select to give to the Stephen & Susan Snyder Helping Hands Scholarship and to scholarship funds.

The type of housing assistance Delgado received, along with the student food pantry and emergency aid, fall under the auspices of Helping Hands.

The TSTC Foundation Director of Stewardship and Donor Relations Jennifer Colten said a recent study identified that 72% of students at TSTC’s Harlingen campus are in critical need of financial assistance, making employee contributions important.

“The Harlingen campus has the greatest percentage of economically disadvantaged students,” she said. “And if we can give students immediate assistance with things such as housing, which is such a gift.”

As for Delgado, her time as a student at TSTC will come to an end next spring. But she hopes to return to TSTC as a full-time employee so she can help others the way she has been helped.

“I am so thankful for TSTC. Because of the help I received, I was able to finish my education,” she said. “The culture at TSTC is one of service and support for their students and employees. And I want to be a part of that and help make a difference in someone’s life the way TSTC has made a difference in mine.”

TSTC alum finds second chance at TSTC

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – By the time they are 63 years old, most people are thinking about retirement. But not Adan Chavez. He is just getting started on what he calls his second chance at life.

The Pharr native graduated from Texas State Technical College in 2018 with certificates in Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology.

But years earlier — long before the internet and cell phones were commonplace — Chavez had run afoul of the law and was incarcerated.

“It was a challenge coming back to school after being away for so long,” he said. “The technology was a lot newer too. Everyone is now connected. It was an eye-opener.”

Chavez feels blessed to have found TSTC.TSTC Aircraft Maintenance Adan Chavez

“Thanks be to God that I was given a second chance and that I made it through the (TSTC) program,” he said. “It was actually a lot of fun being around young energy; it was contagious.”

Chavez added that TSTC gave him an opportunity he may not have been given anywhere else.

“Mechanics has always been my thing, but airplanes have always fascinated me,” he said. “So my daughter helped me find a program that combines both, and it was definitely time well spent.”

While at TSTC, Chavez gained valuable, real-world experience on various types of aircraft that helped prepare him for the workforce.

“We got to practice what we learned in the classroom,” he said. “So when I graduated, not only was I familiar with the terms and theory, but I was familiar with how to complete processes on actual aircraft.”

Chavez credits the hands-on learning approach to his current success.

He is currently working as an airframe and powerplant mechanic at CV-580 in Brownsville.

“I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity of starting a new career,” said Chavez. “There have been so many people who have helped me get here. At TSTC there was always someone willing to help. This has set me up for a better future.”

Chavez said his goals are to learn as much as possible, branch out within the field, and climb the ladder to leadership roles.

“I’ve been given a second chance in all aspects, and I’m proof that’s it’s never too late to get an education and start again,” he said.

Aircraft Airframe Technology and Airframe Powerplant Technology are also available at TSTC’s Abilene and Waco campuses.

Registration is underway for Spring 2020. For more information, visit

TSTC Physics moves the world through knowledge

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Physics is a study of matter, motion and behavior through space and time related to energy and force. In Texas State Technical College’s Physics program, students receive the building blocks to support technical programs and educational goals.

TSTC Physics campus department chair Jose Alvarez said that the mastery of physics can lead a student into a multitude of career opportunities.TSTC Physics

He went on to explain the types of skills that students learn and how physics can be applied outside the classroom.

What is the length of the program?

The program is five semesters. Upon successful completion, a student will earn an Associate of Science degree.

What can students expect when they graduate?

Students in this program will gain a strong foundation in the fundamentals of physics and mathematics. Many of the students go on to, or have completed, a technical program such as engineering, education and training, or computer science.

What skills do students learn in Physics?

Students learn the math and chemistry behind areas such as acceleration, motion, electricity, magnetism, optics, mechanics and heat.

What types of technology are used to learn these skills?

In this program, students have access to labs and numerous tools for experiments such as speed-of-sound testers, electrostatic generators, force tables, compressors, condensers and mini-boilers.

How do these skills prepare a student for the workforce?

Physics is a stepping stone into more in-depth learning after graduation. Many students who graduate from this program and continue their education will go on to find careers in engineering, computer programming, computer science, or medical equipment design and repair.

TSTC spreads holiday cheer

TSTC Toys for Tots TSTC Toys for Tots TSTC Toys for Tots TSTC Toys for Tots

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The Texas State Technical College Support Services department and Santa Claus recently delivered presents to the children of Early Head Start Child Development and NINOS Head Start centers located on the TSTC campus.

The children at both centers had the chance to enjoy a visit with Santa and take photos.

The gifts were collected with the help of TSTC staff, faculty and students to help make this holiday season brighter for the children.

TSTC Testing Center first in RGV to receive national recognition

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – It was nearly a year in the making, but the Testing Center at Texas State Technical College has become the first in the Rio Grande Valley to earn national recognition by the National College Testing Association.

The certification cements the Testing Center’s national status as a leader in excellent testing practices. It proves that the center is a secure testing environment with a trained testing staff, and it sets the bar high for other postsecondary testing centers.

“This is an exciting time for us,” said TSTC Testing Center assistant director Llesmin Gonzalez. “This validates all of the hard work our team does. It shows that we’re moving in the right direction.”

TSTC’s Testing Center is one among a growing number of centers in the United States and Canada to have completed the intensive certification process.TSTC Testing Center

Everything from testing center blueprints and layouts to photos and scenario write-ups and solutions were submitted for consideration.

“It really was a team effort,” said Gonzalez. “It was all hands on deck to make this happen for our center and our college.”

The certification will be in place for the next five years and can be renewed by demonstrating continued compliance to national standards.

TSTC’s Testing Center, which is also open to the public, offers numerous testing services. They include the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) assessment, College Level Examination Program (CLEP) testing, General Educational Development (GED) testing, the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) certification exam, and one of the newest: personal trainer certification.

“We already offer many services to our students and the community, but this national recognition will allow us to expand on what we offer and invite new testing vendors to offer their exams at our site,” said Gonzalez.

She added that students and the community will benefit from this expansion because the center will offer in-demand testing while helping students and the community achieve their educational and workforce goals.

“We’re ready to lead the way with this recognition here in the RGV and among our TSTC campuses,” said Gonzalez. 

The National College Testing Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of professionalism and high-quality service in the administration of testing programs. It offers certification to college and university testing centers that demonstrate exemplary practices.

For more information on the testing services offered by the TSTC Testing Center, visit


Spirit of Giving: TSTC’s food pantry benefits students

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The transition from high school to college can be challenging. 

For Texas State Technical College student Ruben Rodriguez, the transition also led to anxiety about not having enough to eat.

But TSTC was there to alleviate the stress until he could get back on his feet.

“My first semester at TSTC was a huge adjustment,” said the 20-year-old. “I came from a high school where I could get free meals, and that changed in college.”

The Harlingen native said he would find himself without money to purchase a proper meal.

“From class to studying in the library, the days are long sometimes in college,” he said. “And I would find myself trying to concentrate over a growling stomach.”

With no job and little money, often Rodriguez would go all day without a meal. Then a classmate informed him about the TSTC student food pantry.

“He came to the library where I was studying to offer me a granola bar,” Rodriguez remembers. “And he started telling me about the food pantry, where he got these granola bars. After that I decided to check it out.”TSTC Food Pantry Ruben Rodriguez

Rodriguez said that throughout his first semester most of his meals came from the pantry, which helped him get through his day.

“Without the food pantry, I don’t think I could have remained focused in class or on my studying,” Rodriguez admitted. “I’m so thankful that TSTC offers this type of service for its students. It makes all the difference.”

During one of his visits to the pantry, Rodriguez expressed his interest in working with TSTC Student Life and Engagement.

After getting hired as a student worker, things changed for him.

“TSTC helped me get through a difficult transition and helped me get on my feet,” said Rodriguez. “For that I am forever grateful.”

The food pantry is stocked and maintained by monetary and food donations made by TSTC faculty, staff, students and the community.

In an effort to keep it fully stocked, especially during times when food insecurity is at its highest among college students, TSTC created an employee giving campaign.

According to studies produced by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice, an estimated 48% of college students are food insecure.

TSTC employees participating in the giving campaign can contribute to the Stephen & Susan Snyder Helping Hands Scholarship and to scholarship funds.

The TSTC food pantry and housing and emergency aid fall under the auspices of Helping Hands.

“Contributions made by TSTC employees that go to provide emergency aid give students immediate financial assistance when the need arises,” said TSTC Director of Stewardship and Donor Relations Jennifer Colten. “When hardships happen, we want to be there for our students, and we don’t want students like Ruben worrying about where their next meal will come from.”

Rodriguez said he is thankful for the help TSTC has given him.

“Thank you to those who have contributed and made a difference in our lives as students,” he said. “And because of it, it gave me a chance to help others as a student worker, and hopefully make their day and lives a bit better too.”

TSTC Chancellor honors excellence award recipients

2019 Chancellor's Excellence Award RecipientsOn Tuesday, the Texas State Technical College 2019 Chancellor’s Excellence Award recipients were honored by TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser with a luncheon. At the event, the honorees were recognized with plaques for their hard work, commitment and dedication to TSTC and its students. These recipients were nominated by their peers for modeling TSTC’s core values of excellence, accountability, service and integrity.

“Leadership has everything to do with how you influence those around you. And by receiving this award, it means that people around you respect you and look up to you,” said Reeser. “And our college is excellent today because of excellent people like you, positively influencing everyone else toward excellence. Thank you on behalf of everyone at TSTC…for what you do.”   

Pictured left to right (back row): TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser, Jennifer Colten, Robert Foshie, Arnulfo Alanis; (front row): Leo Villarreal, Tracy Vallejo, Teresa Rivera, Maria Magana, Shirley Byrd, Tom Cross and TSTC Provost Cledia Hernandez. Not pictured: Janette Gomez, Llesmin Gonzalez, Heather Sauceda and Daniel de la Garza.


TSTC students inducted into prestigious honor society

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – In a night of fellowship, scholarship and honor, Texas State Technical College recognized more than 20 students in an induction ceremony for the Phi Theta Kappa honor society on Dec. 11.

“This night is a testament to these students’ dedication and excellence in the classroom,” said TSTC Executive Director of Student Learning and Phi Theta Kappa advisor Sara Sanchez. “This is a huge honor for these students.”

The students were officially welcomed into the distinguished honor society in a ceremony that included an oath of membership, a candlelight ceremony and a presentation of honor cords.

TSTC Health Information Technology student and Phi Theta Kappa president Natalie Hudson said the ceremony was a joyous occasion because she had the opportunity to celebrate her academic achievement with her family.

“This is an amazing accomplishment for everyone,” said the 42-year-old. “Being a part of an organization like this gives me great motivation to keep going and allows us all to encourage each other.”TSTC Phi Theta Kappa

As president of Phi Theta Kappa’s TSTC chapter, Beta Iota Phi, Hudson’s goal is to get the organization more active around the community and to increase volunteer opportunities.

“Phi Theta Kappa is based around service,” she said. “And for me that means we should do more community service to make a difference in the lives of others.”

For students like Hudson to be invited into Phi Theta Kappa, they must have a 3.5 GPA or higher, 12 credit hours toward a certificate or degree, and be in good standing with the college.

“This organization promotes excellence and recognizes success,” said Sanchez. “Our goal in the Beta Iota Phi chapter is to help these students grow as leaders and professionally.”

The perks of being a member of Phi Theta Kappa include numerous scholarship opportunities, web trainings, national conferences, and the networking of like-minded students across the nation.

Upon graduation, students have the opportunity to showcase their membership with honor cords, honor stoles, a special tassel or medallion, and they will receive a Phi Theta Kappa seal on their certificate or degree.  

“We have a great group of students who I know are going to take this chapter to the next level,” said Sanchez. “It’s an honor to welcome them into this prestigious organization and celebrate their academic achievement.”

Phi Theta Kappa serves to recognize and encourage the academic achievement of two-year college students. It is the largest honor society in American higher education, with more than 2.5 million members and more than 1,000 chapters in the United States and across the globe.

Longtime TSTC Surgical Technology instructor retires, honored for dedication

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – It has been nearly 40 years since Robert Sanchez stepped foot on a Texas State Technical College campus for the first time, and now he is moving onward with a new chapter in his life: retirement.

The 70-year-old and his dedication to the college and its Surgical Technology students were recently celebrated with a surprise party at the TSTC Cultural Arts Center and with a scholarship in his name.  The Robert Sanchez Scholarship Fund will now award scholarships to Surgical Technology students annually.

TSTC faculty, staff, students, alumni and some area hospital representatives were in attendance.

“All of this was definitely a surprise, even though someone spilled the beans,” said Sanchez. “I’m not big on surprises or parties, but I’m honored that my team felt that I deserved this type of recognition.”

In September 1981 Sanchez became a Surgical Technology instructor at TSTC. He put pen to paper to plan out curriculums and lesson plans since personal computers were a thing of the future.

“We were still using encyclopedias when I joined the TSTC team,” Sanchez remembered. “It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come.”

In 1969 Sanchez was part of one of the first surgical technologist programs in the Rio Grande Valley at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen.

He was one of three who graduated from the program and one of only a handful who worked as certified surgical technologists in the area.

After not being accepted into TSTC’s Surgical Technology program in 1976, Sanchez joined the U.S. Army Reserve and went on to earn an associate degree in nursing in 1978 and a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1989.TSTC Surgical Technology program director Robert Sanchez

“Little did I know I would still dedicate my career to TSTC and to training new generations of surgical technologists,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez served as a Surgical Technology instructor from 1981 to 1996, when he took over as department chair.

Sanchez was always known as a strict instructor — he said some might even have called him mean, but he said it was all to better prepare them for the job.

“Working in any medical profession is stressful, but imagine being in the operating room,” he said. “Stressors come from everywhere, and a great surgical technologist will be able to work through these stressors. That’s what I strived to instill in (my students).”

In fact, many of the faculty and staff working in the TSTC Surgical Technology department today are alumni of the program and had Sanchez as an instructor.

One of them is Anna San Pedro, a current Surgical Technology senior instructor who worked with Sanchez for more than two decades and will replace him as program director.

“I was 18 years old when I first met Robert. I was his student and, yes, he was very demanding of his students,” she remembers. “But I later realized he did everything for a reason. He was shaping us and preparing us for the rigors of the operating room. And everyone can agree that he influenced our careers and the leaders we turned out to be.”  

San Pedro added that it has been difficult for her to accept Sanchez’s retirement because he has been her most treasured mentor and confidant for so many years.

“It’s sad to see him go, but it’s also exciting when I think about this new opportunity,” said San Pedro. “I wonder what it will be like without him. But I’m also confident that we can continue making this program the best it can be because of everything he has taught us.”

Sanchez said his retirement is a bittersweet moment. He will miss his students and watching them grow into the best surgical technologists they can be.

“I’m leaving this program and my students in great hands. I’m not worried about it,” he said. “But I will miss teaching and advising, and most of all the camaraderie of my staff. This career has been so rewarding.”

But Sanchez knows that time goes by fast and the future is unknown, so he’s ready to enjoy retirement, his family and traveling.

“This is my time. I’m at a perfect spot to retire,” said Sanchez. “I’m ready to live my life and spend it with my family, especially my grandkids and great-grandkids.”

Sanchez said he will also keep busy by working two days a week at Valley Baptist Medical Center, where he has also worked for the last 52 years, in a nursing circulating role preparing patients for surgery. He will also volunteer at the Harlingen VA Clinic.

“TSTC gave me the ability to teach, to share my passion, and to build such a great program for future surgical technologists,” said Sanchez. “I want to thank everyone who has worked with me and supported my endeavors — especially my students, who have gone on to be successful but always remember where they started.”

TSTC Engineering: Training a new generation of problem solvers

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The Engineering department at Texas State Technical College will prepare a student for advancement in the workplace with a mathematics- and physics-based curriculum that will improve and increase problem-solving skills.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of engineering is expected to grow as much as 10% in the coming decade as government and industry work to meet the challenges of a growing global population and dwindling resources.TSTC Engineering

With Texas being among the largest employers of engineers in the nation, the Rio Grande Valley is also seeing an increase in demand for highly skilled engineers.

TSTC Engineering department chair Hermes Chirino said as the Valley grows, the need for engineers, especially civil engineers, will increase in the region. And with the newly constructed SpaceX site in Brownsville, he expects aerospace engineers also to be in demand in coming years.

Chirino went on to explain how TSTC’s Engineering department is helping to fill a large demand.

What is the length of the program?

The Engineering program takes five semesters to complete. Upon successful completion, a student will earn an Associate of Science degree in Engineering.

What skills do students learn in Engineering?

In Engineering, students will learn the concept and theory foundations of mathematics and physics, programming for engineers and engineering mechanics — static and dynamic, all of which will allow a student to become problem solvers in the field.  

What types of technologies are used to learn these skills?

To learn these skills, Engineering students will use a wide array of industry-standard software such as MATLAB, which is a type of engineering software used worldwide.

How do these skills prepare a student for the workforce?

Many of the students pursuing an associate degree in Engineering will transfer to obtain a higher degree, with every course in this program being transferrable, or will come from one of the many popular technical programs at TSTC such as Wind Energy Technology, Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics, or Mechatronics Technology.

Nearly 40% of the program is made up of Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics students who find an interest and want to pursue a career in civil engineering. Students who graduate with an associate degree from a technical program in engineering become more marketable among employers.

What types of positions can a graduate obtain?

As a graduate from TSTC’s Engineering program, a student can go on to work as a technician in civil engineering, electrical and electronics engineering, environmental engineering, industrial engineering and mechanical engineering.