Author Archives: Naissa Lopez

TSTC Computer Programming Technology prepares students for the industry

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Computer Programming Technology at Texas State Technical College equips students with the essential tools they need to continually stay in demand in this rising industry.

The job outlook for computer programmers has not slowed down. In fact, the remote work environment that many people have become familiar with will lead to the need for more technicians who understand the gadgets and gizmos of the devices that connect us to the rest of the world.

“We have not seen a decline in demand for computer programmers and do not expect to see one anytime soon,” said TSTC instructor Shelby Coffman. “In addition, we have been very encouraged to see our recent graduates of the Computer Programming Technology program around the state find employment after graduation despite recent events.”

According to and, responsibilities of computer programmers include developing, testing and implementing programs on multiple operating system platforms, creating and publishing technical diagrams to support coding efforts, and integrating new functions into existing applications.

Coffman said that much of the work can be done from a programmer’s own home.

“Computer programming can generally be performed with the resources that most people either already have or are within reach, like a computer and broadband internet connection,” he said. “Aside from the actual act of programming, communication with teammates and clients can be performed remotely utilizing virtual meeting applications.”

Shannon Ferguson, an instructor in the TSTC Computer Programming Technology department, said that TSTC is not only teaching students what it takes to dominate in this field, but also changing the curriculum when needed to keep up with the standards of the industry.

“Technology, as well as industry demand, is continually changing and evolving,” he said. “Like most programs at TSTC, the Computer Programming Technology department regularly reevaluates and adjusts our curriculum to meet the needs of industry partners and demand.”

He said that the ultimate goal is creating graduates who are ready to get to work.

“We work closely with our departmental advisory board to ensure we teach the skills and topics that industry is looking for in prospective employees,” Ferguson said. “Our goal is to make sure that we produce graduates that are ready for the workforce.”

To learn more about TSTC, visit


Photo caption: Computer Programming Technology at Texas State Technical College equips students with the essential tools they need to continually stay in demand in this rising industry.

Helping to save lives motivates EMS instructor at TSTC

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Students enrolled in Texas State Technical College’s Emergency Medical Services program are in good hands as they learn from instructors who not only have knowledge of the industry, but also have experienced working in the field themselves.

TSTC Emergency Medical Services instructor Ruben Ramirez spends his days in the classroom while also coordinating the curriculum’s classes with the Texas Department of State Health Services. His passion for the field has allowed him the opportunity to help prepare the next generation of emergency medical services professionals for an industry that will always need them.

Why is the emergency medical services profession important?

It is important because of the role we play in public safety. We provide an entry point for the public to gain access to emergency medical care and transportation to the emergency room when needed. At the time of a medical emergency, the public dials 911, and first responders are activated to provide emergency care, giving them access to medical care.

What inspired you to become an instructor?

I really love emergency medical services. The experience I gained in the industry has given me so much. I feel that teaching others about my past experiences is the right thing to do, and I want others to learn from my experiences. I want to give back to the profession as my previous instructors did with me. I have the best of both worlds as an instructor. I get to teach about a profession that I love with a passion.

What do you enjoy most about your career?

As an instructor, seeing the look on my students’ faces and hearing the excitement in their voices when they obtain and reach their goal of becoming an emergency medical technician or a paramedic is always worth it. Being able to interact with a wide variety of students, from traditional to nontraditional, and helping them obtain their educational goals is something I love.

What do you enjoy most about this field?

The ability to say “I helped save a life today.” Being able to make a difference in someone’s life by performing CPR or just holding a hand when somebody is scared and giving them comfort. We are there so that they know they are not alone during a scary and stressful moment. This profession makes for a rewarding career that few will answer the call to, and those that do will have a lifelong, fulfilling career.

To learn more about TSTC, visit

Photo caption: Students in the TSTC Emergency Medical Services program receive hands-on experience as they make their way through the curriculum. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)

Inspired by her parents, TSTC alumna establishes career in culinary arts

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Growing up around restaurants and catering inspired Stephanie Salazar to enroll in the Culinary Arts program at Texas State Technical College.

Salazar received her Associate of Applied Science degree in 2019 and is now the dietary and nutrition services director at McAllen Nursing Center, where she is able to utilize her skills in the industry while also helping others in the process.

“My parents had a catering company when I was growing up, and I would help where I could,” she said. “My father also had his own restaurant. My parents are the ones who inspired me and pushed me to be creative and explore the culinary world more.”

She said that not only was the Culinary Arts program hands-on, but the encouragement from the instructors also gave students extra motivation.

“I loved my classes and all the material I was exposed to while at TSTC,” she said. “The instructors really push their students to get out of their comfort zone and work with foods they otherwise would not have.”

TSTC Culinary Arts instructor Emma Creps vividly recalled Salazar’s desire to continually learn new things.

“You could just tell by the way she performed in the labs that she had a passion for culinary arts,” she said. “Stephanie definitely stood out in her class and never hesitated to take initiative, ask questions and seek advice. I am truly proud of her.”

The Culinary Arts program equipped Salazar with the information she needed to succeed not only in the field, but also in other areas that come with a career.

“The courses I took at TSTC in regard to management really helped me know how to break down things properly and be as effective as possible,” she said. “Learning about that side of the business helped me in the environment I went into because I knew the structural foundation of what I needed to do.”

She added that her knowledge of the industry brought her one of her greatest successes.

“I recently started my current position and was recruited due to my record at a previous company,” she said. “I was offered a higher position and a much higher salary. I am very proud of the role I have right now and am also proud of my degree. I am able to live comfortably because of it.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for chefs and head cooks will see a faster-than-average increase through 2029.

To learn more about TSTC, visit

Photo caption: Stephanie Salazar completed her Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts at TSTC in 2019 and is currently thriving in her position as dietary and nutrition services director at McAllen Nursing Center. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Salazar.)


TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program lays solid foundation for students

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Building Construction Technology at Texas State Technical College equips future builders with the tools needed to step into a booming industry.

TSTC instructor Rick Vargas discussed the program and how it benefits students.

“Our TSTC instructors have first-hand industry experience that we share with our students,” he said. “This is the only construction program in our area that can teach students full-scale, hands-on construction from start to finish. By graduation, students will know what it takes to complete residential and commercial construction projects.”

Much of the program focuses on hands-on learning so that students are confident about heir skill set as soon as they begin applying for jobs.

“The majority of our classes require on-campus labs,” Vargas said. “We make sure that every class has a different project to work on so that nothing repeats itself. Our projects include floor framing, wall framing, roof framing, interior and exterior finishing, installing doors and windows, roofing, cabinetmaking, drywall, painting and surveying.”

Sebastian Tovar, a 2018 graduate of the Building Construction Technology program, credits TSTC with helping to establish the foundation for his career.

“TSTC gave me the opportunity to get training on things like rough framing, blueprint reading, estimating, schedule building, project management, and much more,” he said. “These are all skills that I use daily in my career.”

Now Tovar is thriving as an assistant superintendent at SpawGlass general contractors in San Antonio.

“My greatest accomplishment to date would have to be graduating from TSTC,” he said.

Vargas said that students considering enrolling in the program should enjoy getting their hands dirty, but also know that the skills they leave with will always be in demand.

“You have to have a passion for building or working with your hands,” he said. “There is currently an abundance of job opportunities for students, and there are bound to be more opportunities in the next several years. We have companies from all over the state that come down to recruit students from our Harlingen campus because they are so well prepared to enter the workforce.”

To learn more about TSTC, visit

Photo caption: Building Construction Technology at TSTC is a hands-on program that receives statewide attention from potential employers. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)

Foreman or achitect engineer shows future house, office or store design plans and model to a young couple. Meeting at the construction office to talk about facade, interior decoration, home layout.


TSTC Surgical Technology students gain hands-on training via mock surgery

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Texas State Technical College Surgical Technology students recently received hands-on training via a mock surgery performed under a retired surgeon’s supervision.

The scenario, which included a lifelike manikin, involved students preparing the room for surgery, sanitizing and sterilizing their hands and tools, and even putting on scrubs and other proper attire for the procedure.

This was the first time that both the students and instructors had worked with the TraumaMan simulator, which was designed to be a highly realistic portrayal of a patient. For this exercise, it simulated a patient with a lacerated kidney.

Surgical Technology instructor Yolanda Ramirez said that this is one of the most beneficial ways students can feel as though they are in an operating room before leaving the classroom.

“My goal is to help our students improve their knowledge and comfort levels,” she said. “These scenarios are helpful in identifying strengths and deficiencies, and they set learning and improvement goals.”

The instructors plan to have multiple mock scenarios based on the curriculum that students are studying at any given moment.

“My goal is to have one mock surgery for each specialty we cover throughout the semester,” Ramirez said. “It would total about five mock surgeries a semester.”

Retired area surgeon Dr. Ashraf Hilmy is volunteering his time with the Surgical Technology program by supervising and offering feedback during and after the mock scenarios. He started his surgical practice in 1994 and said that surgeons could not do their jobs without surgical technologists.

“Students absolutely have to have this hands-on training because it is what they will be doing in the real world — you can’t learn this in a book,” he said. “These scenarios give students the opportunity to learn how to prepare for surgery, learn from their work, and get feedback.”

He added that as students move forward in the program, there are a few things they should keep in mind.

“Communicate and take ownership,” he said. “No matter how good a surgeon is, he or she cannot do their job without the surgical team. Surgical technologists are appreciated more than they will ever know.”

To learn more about TSTC, visit


TSTC Computer Networking and Systems Administration program blends hands-on and online learning

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Computer Networking and Systems Administration at Texas State Technical College brings the digital world to life for students enrolled in the program.

Instructor Emanuel Palacios discussed the highlights of the field, as well as what students can expect during their time in the online program and beyond.

“This program will provide students with the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge needed to perform in a variety of technology roles,” he said. “A few of the common job titles that our alumni currently have include network or systems technician and administrator, technical consultant, cloud architect, cloud technical trainer, and security analyst, to name a few.”

While there are many reasons why this program is particularly unique, Palacios said that the curriculum’s coursework speaks for itself.

“TSTC’s program is a member of the Cisco Network Academy and Amazon Web Services Educate,” he said. “There are several industry certifications that the coursework is designed around, such as Cisco’s Certified Network Associate certification and CompTIA’s Network+, Security+ and Cloud Essentials+ certifications.”

Despite being an online program, students are still required to complete labs that will enable them to get into various operating systems.

“Many of the courses have labs that are completed by remotely connecting to real servers and networking equipment hosted in a data center on a TSTC campus,” he said. “Understanding the physical infrastructure and maintenance is fundamental, but the vast majority of being hands-on in this field means knowing how to handle software and operating system configurations and installations.”

He said that those who are curious about technology will benefit from the program.

“If you enjoy playing with tech gadgets or brain games, that may be a good indication that you will not only do well in the field, but also love what you do,” he said. “Women tend to perform exceptionally well in computer networking, and I would highly encourage them to pursue that passion.”

Palacios added that like technology, this career will never get boring.

“The field is very rewarding, and jobs can be found in virtually any city,” he said. “The great thing about information technology is that the more skills you gain, the more valuable you become.”

To learn more about TSTC, visit


TSTC alum follows in father’s footsteps with construction career

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Work zones and hard hats were a way of life for Sebastian Tovar before he entered the Building Construction Technology program at Texas State Technical College.

Growing up, the Harlingen native would scurry around construction sites, picking up trash while his dad was helping to build the next addition to a city.

“It just seemed natural for me to follow in his steps and go into construction,” he said.

Tovar, who completed an associate degree in the Building Construction Technology program in 2018, is now an assistant superintendent at SpawGlass general contractors in San Antonio.

He said his time at TSTC not only helped prepare him with essential skills, but also helped him gain confidence to set himself up for a career that promises to rise like a skyscraper.

“The instructors were invested in our success,” Tovar said. “They immediately helped us with any questions we had during the program.”

He said that although the program taught him and the other students curriculum from a textbook, it also allowed them to go outside and get their hands dirty.

“TSTC gave me the opportunity to get hands-on training on things like rough framing, blueprint reading, estimating, schedule building, project management and much more,” he said. “These are all skills that I use daily. I especially enjoyed our time doing labs, which included volunteering to build homes for our local Habitat for Humanity.”

Another aspect of the program that he appreciated was the knowledge that many of his peers brought to the classroom.

“Most of my friends at TSTC were already working full time or in the middle of a career change,” he said. “Many had been in the construction industry, which added a new perspective to our classes. I absorbed a lot of experience from my colleagues and instructors.”

Tovar is thankful that he took the leap and registered for courses at TSTC.

“My greatest accomplishment to date would have to be graduating from TSTC,” he said. “I carry a lot of pride for this college with me because of how strongly I believe in the effectiveness of the Building Construction Technology program. TSTC shaped my whole idea of what a college should be.”

To learn more about TSTC, visit


TSTC instructor eager to teach students the realm of information technology

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Computer Networking and Systems Administration is the process of ensuring that the world is connected at any given moment. Texas State Technical College equips students in the program with the skills needed to conquer the ever-growing field.

Department chair Emanuel Palacios has been sharing his vast knowledge of the field with TSTC students for nine years after having spent time working in both information technology and as a systems specialist.

What inspired you to get into education?

Sharing what I know with others has always inspired me. A colleague who I think very highly of said I would do great as an instructor. I didn’t pay much mind to it at the time because I consider myself an introvert. The idea of speaking in front of others made me nervous. But I’ve always had a zeal for helping others, and technology is a passion of mine, so it came much easier than I had imagined when teaching others about technology.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I wholeheartedly enjoy having the opportunity to be a servant and a resource to students and colleagues. Seeing someone accomplish a goal is very gratifying.

Why is Computer Networking and Systems Administration important?

As time progresses, so will technology. It is easy to see the importance of the field, which will continue growing. The demand for skilled technicians to maintain those systems and networks will be par for the course.

Do you have any favorite TSTC memories?

No memory compares to the excitement of success and accomplishment that is witnessed as each student you taught walks the stage at their commencement ceremony.

To learn more about Computer Networking and Systems Administration, visit



San Benito Industrial Foundation sets up scholarship fund for San Benito residents attending TSTC

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The San Benito Industrial Foundation Inc. is making the collegiate dreams of some San Benito residents come true with a gift of $75,000 through the TSTC Foundation for scholarships to attend Texas State Technical College.

The scholarship money will help fund tuition, course materials, uniforms, and testing fees for students residing within the city of San Benito or within the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District.

Founded in 1964 by a group of business owners, the San Benito Industrial Foundation focuses on promoting business and industry in the Resaca City.

San Benito Industrial Foundation Vice President Ben Fry said that education is an important component of the organization’s mission.

“We felt that scholarships to our San Benito residents attending TSTC would have a direct and positive impact on our young citizens,” he said. “Education provides a markedly higher lifetime income. It benefits the student, and also the city in which that student lives, in countless ways.”

TSTC Senior Field Development Officer Richard Mesquias knows that the scholarship will change lives.

“This amazing gift from the San Benito Industrial Foundation will greatly impact residents of San Benito,” he said. “We are thrilled to have their support for this initiative that will provide critical financial assistance to TSTC students.”

Fry said that student encouragement will go a long way.

“Every young person needs support when they are beginning to think of a career,” he said. “We are very blessed  to have such an excellent educational facility such as TSTC so close to our homes.”

Ultimately Fry wants residents of San Benito to know that they will have others in their corner in their pursuit of higher education.

“Our San Benito residents need to be made aware that our organization encourages education, and we are providing these scholarships to encourage and provide financial support to our young citizens,” he said. “With the education that TSTC can provide, our San Benito students can earn a good salary to comfortably support their families and become a great benefit to our city and its population.”

To learn more about TSTC, visit

Photo caption: The San Benito Industrial Foundation Inc. scholarship will benefit TSTC students residing within the San Benito city limits. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)


Computer Programming at TSTC prepares students for booming career

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Coding, JavaScript, and Python may seem like foreign languages to some, but for Texas State Technical College students enrolled in Computer Programming, they are as easy as the alphabet.

The program, which is taught online, prepares students to become problem solvers behind the scenes while not forgetting other vital components of career training, like project management and communication skills.

TSTC statewide department chair Shannon Ferguson and instructor Shelby Coffman discussed the program’s benefits and what students can expect to learn.

“Students enrolled in Computer Programming technology will work with industry-standard development tools and resources,” Coffman said. “Throughout their coursework, students use these tools to complete projects that simulate real-world scenarios. We want our students to achieve mastery by demonstrating their proficiency on the topics we cover.”

Ferguson added that the impact of a computer programmer is a lot closer than most people would assume.

“Behind every software, website, game and mobile application is a computer programmer who makes things happen,” he said. “Programmers are needed in every facet of business and industry. We live in a world where we have access to products, information, and resources to help us in our daily lives at the click of a mouse. Computer programmers make this possible.”

Ferguson and Coffman both agree that the quality curriculum available at TSTC makes a great impact on the learning outcomes of students.

“Technology, as well as industry demand, is continually changing and evolving,” Ferguson said. “Like most programs at TSTC, the Computer Programming department regularly reevaluates and adjusts our curriculum to meet the needs of industry partners and demand.”

Coffman said that the department also makes sure to stay competitive in the industry.

“We work closely with our departmental advisory board to ensure we teach the skills and topics that industry is looking for in prospective employees,” he said. “Our goal is to produce graduates that are ready for the workforce.”

According to the Texas Workforce Commission and, the field is expected to grow by at least 10 percent over the next 10 years.

Both instructors have advice for students who are curious about the program.

“If you are interested in technology, how software works and can approach problems as solvable challenges, then you can be successful as a computer programmer.”

To learn more about the programs available at TSTC, visit

Photo caption: Computer Programming at TSTC is offered 100 percent online. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)