Author Archives: Naissa Lopez

Wind Energy Technology instructor helps students reach for the sky

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Inspired by his own educators when he was a student at Texas State Technical College, Eutiquio Calderon is now paying it forward as an instructor for TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program. He is not only a mentor for his students, but also someone who constantly encourages them to reach for the sky.

“I am strict as an instructor, but I am also easy to get along with,” he said. “I encourage those who need it, praise students who deserve it, and always give a helping hand to those who ask for one.”

Calderon’s wife once reminded him of his goal to become an instructor after he graduated from college.

“Years ago, my wife told me that I mentioned that I wanted to gain work experience so that one day I could come back and become an instructor,” he said. “Four years later, I am here loving what I do — helping others achieve their education and career goals.”

Seeing students grow intellectually through their education is one of his favorite aspects of being an instructor.

“My students are like my children,” he said. “I see them grow as individuals in the year and a half that they are in my courses. I enjoy receiving emails from them saying that they are enjoying my classes. I have even received pictures from some beautiful wind farms that they are working in.”

Calderon said he enjoys celebrating educational milestones with his students.

“Some of my favorite memories are the graduation ceremonies,” he said. “Students are happy to be moving forward in their lives and are celebrated by friends and family. Some of them even ask me to be in their photos. It’s a proud feeling.”

Calderon’s passion also comes from a very personal anecdote that he takes with him into the classroom.

“I advise them with the mentality that my grandmother, Julia Calderon, would give to me: ‘Lo mas importante en la vida es la educacion,’” he said. “The most important thing in life is education.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind energy technology is expected to grow exponentially through 2028 and beyond.

To learn more about the program at TSTC, visit

TSTC alumna brings taste of Colombia to the Valley

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Inspired by the coffee farm on which she was raised in her native Colombia, Johanna Lozano began her coffee company, Cafe Canasto, in 2018.

Lozano received her Associate of Applied Science degree from Texas State Technical College in Business Management Technology in 2015. She went on to work for the Texas Department of State Health Services before resigning in 2018 to make her love for coffee her full-time job.

“I grew up on a coffee farm in Colombia,” she said. “I have always been passionate about coffee. I saw the opportunity to start importing my own coffee, so I created the Cafe Canasto brand.”

For 1 1/2 years, Lozano catered and distributed her coffee brand all over the United States. This year she opened her own coffee shop in Brownsville to serve an array of Colombian treats and coffee creations.

“After seeing how well people were embracing a different culture and our Colombian food and drinks, I decided to open my shop,” she said. “Cafe Canasto finally opened its doors to the public in March.”

This important chapter in her life could not have been accomplished without those who are most important to her.

“I have loved my entrepreneurial journey very much,” Lozano said. “My husband has been my biggest supporter, and the community has truly given us their love.”

Some of Lozano’s fondest moments are the extracurricular activities she participated in at TSTC.

“Serving as the student government president left me with many great memories,” she said. “It not only allowed me to advocate for students, but I grew tremendously as a person.”

Student government was not the only opportunity that she had to reveal her leadership ability.

“Because of TSTC, I was able to become involved with the community,” Lozano said. “I was able to go to Washington, D.C., to meet other student leaders from all over the nation.”

Lozano said her time at TSTC gave her a learning experience that benefits her business venture, and the support she received outside the classroom is something she holds dear.

“TSTC is not only a great school that provides you with the necessary tools and knowledge to succeed, but the leaders there are very supportive, and that really makes a difference in students’ lives,” she reiterated. “Honestly, I could write a book about all the help and professional tools I received at TSTC.”

Cafe Canasto is located at 4008 Paredes Line Road in Brownsville.

To learn more about TSTC’s Business Management Technology program, visit

TSTC Mechatronics Technology offers degree for thriving job market

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Digital circuits, manufacturing robotics and electromechanical systems are only a few of the hands-on courses that students will take when they study Mechatronics Technology at Texas State Technical College.

Lead mechatronics instructor Eldwin Leija, who has taught at TSTC for nine years, talked about the importance of mechatronics.

“Mechatronics is the study and use of multiple disciplines,” he said. “It can range from industrial maintenance to industrial robotics technology and process controls. We help maintain the equipment that helps make the products we use every single day.”

TSTC prides itself on a dedicated learning experience that trains graduates to be ready to work on day one — an important program characteristic.

“We have a solid curriculum, supplemented with industry-relevant equipment,” Leija said. “Even during these times, we have managed to have hands-on labs on the TSTC campus while strictly following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 regulations. Our teaching staff has years of industry experience related to what we are teaching. When students graduate, we top that off by helping them find a career in what they studied.”

Leija reiterated that despite these unforeseen times, the need for mechatronics technicians will not disappear.

“As long as the world needs gasoline, oil, natural gas and manufactured goods, such as food packaging, clothes, makeup, bottled water and vehicles, mechatronics technicians will always be in demand,” he said.

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


TSTC HVAC Technology introduces hybrid teaching format for fall semester

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program will use a hybrid teaching model this fall. But the instructor that students will see teaching online may not be from their home campus.

The program’s faculty from the East Williamson County, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, North Texas and Waco campuses will teach courses online to students statewide. Students will complete hands-on labs on their home campuses.

This is the first time the faculty at the campuses have united to teach like this.

“HVAC Technology is going to be one of the first programs to have statewide lectures this fall,” said Lance Lucas, statewide department chair for the program. “For example, one of our instructors out of Waco will be the instructor for lectures for our basic electricity class across the state.”

The hybrid method will apply to every course in HVAC Technology.

“It keeps continuity between the different classes with the hybrid,” said Curtis Christian, an instructor in East Williamson County’s HVAC Technology program. “It will kind of simplify instruction.”

Christian will teach some of Fort Bend County’s HVAC students in the fall. He said he looks forward to meeting them online and listening to the questions they will ask.

Lucas said the current pandemic has created more job opportunities in the HVAC industry. He stated that more people working remotely means that there is a greater need for them to maintain comfort in the heat.

“The outlook is great for HVAC technicians,” he said. “This is Texas, and we always need cooling. With so many people working from home and having their air conditioning units running all day, this industry will not slow down.”

Registration continues statewide for the fall semester.  For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


Instructor’s love for automobiles drives him to career at TSTC

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Miguel Zoleta’s passion for transmissions and engines revved his gears right into a position at Texas State Technical College, where he is now a lead instructor in the Automotive Technology program.

Jobs in the automotive industry are growing rapidly. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is predicted to continue climbing because of new technology. This means that more mechanics are needed to figure out what is happening under the hood of a vehicle when the inevitable check engine light comes on. Instructors like Zoleta are making it possible for TSTC to provide the Lone Star State with mechanics who are ready to get Texans back on the road.

What do you enjoy about working with students?

I enjoy seeing students succeed.  Many of them come into the program without knowing anything about cars, and they graduate with lots of knowledge and confidence that they will do good things in their careers.  There is nothing more rewarding than having graduates come back to visit and tell you how thankful they are for what you taught them and describe how well they are doing in the industry.

What inspired you to get into this career path and higher education?

I have always enjoyed working on cars. After high school I enrolled in Automotive Technology here at TSTC. My learning experience was awesome. I enjoyed how all the instructors made you feel like family. After graduating I went on to work in the diesel industry, and after a few years I received the opportunity to come back to TSTC.

Do you have any advice for students considering this path?

The automotive industry is growing in many different ways. This is a great career with many opportunities to be very successful.  I encourage anyone interested to come in for a tour of our Automotive Technology program so that they can see firsthand what we have to offer here at TSTC.

Curious about getting your hands under the hood of a vehicle? Visit to learn more about Automotive Technology at TSTC.


TSTC Nursing alumna proves that heroes wear scrubs and stethoscopes

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Tracey Cash is a prime example that it is never too late to follow another passion.

After spending 30 years as a hair stylist, and nine as a real estate agent, she set her sights on health care and began her journey into nursing at Texas State Technical College. She is now in her seventh year as a nurse after graduating with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing from TSTC.

“I have always had occupations that help people,” she said. “When I was a hair stylist, I helped people feel beautiful, and when I was in real estate, I helped people buy and sell homes.”

Cash’s affinity for giving is what led her to nursing.

“When I decided to change careers, I wanted to continue to help people while also having stability. I decided that the health care industry is where I could accomplish that; it’s the best decision I have ever made.”

Though she graduated in 2013, she still holds dear the support she received during her time at TSTC.

“My time there prepared me for the exams I needed to take to receive my credentials,” she said. “All the instructors and leadership of the Nursing program encouraged me and supported me every step of the way.”

Cash is also one of the many health care heroes on the frontline of the current fight against COVID-19.

“One patient I had in particular is a friend of mine,” she said. “She was very sick, and I was assigned to be her nurse. She was at a point where she wanted to give up, and I went into her room and told her I was her nurse for the day. Her face lit up like a light. Afterward, she told me that I was her spark that she needed to continue the fight. She is now at home continuing her COVID-19 recovery. That made me feel accomplished.”

TSTC Associate Provost Jean Lashbrook reiterated that Cash has the perseverance and spirit to continue thriving in her career as a nurse.

“She has always been an individual that will not give up,” Lashbrook said. “She has always worked very hard for everything she has and wants to attain.”

“Nursing school is tough,” Lashbrook added. “She worked very hard throughout both programs, with no hill too high to climb. Now Tracey’s in a climate where she is certainly the hero to many patients. I know, without a doubt, she is giving them her all.”

Cash has advice for others who one day want to be a nurse and a beam of light for their patients.

“Become a nurse with passion and compassion,” she said. “Become a nurse to be part of the change in a person’s life.”

Fall registration is currently underway. To learn more about TSTC’s Nursing program, visit


TSTC workforce training gives Texans edge in job market

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – The need for essential skills in the Texas job market is rapidly growing, caused in part by a skills gap between the number of available jobs and the number of skilled workers ready to fill them.

The Workforce Training department at Texas State Technical College aims to close that gap by providing students with the tools necessary to succeed in the Texas workforce.

“Workforce training caters to a population that does not necessarily have time for college but wants the job training,” said TSTC Executive Director of Workforce Training and Continuing Education Victor Blalack, who serves both the Harlingen and Fort Bend County campuses.

The training can also help individual companies and businesses by evaluating their needs and then developing specialized curricula to upskill their employees.

Blalack said that the changing job market makes the training an advantage for individuals who want to maintain a fresh batch of skills.

“Those who go through workforce training typically want better employment opportunities,” he said. “Most of our trainees have already been employed somewhere and are looking to add an additional set of skills to their resume.”

Blalack stated that the training can be not only beneficial, but also vital.

“We are essential because we target those who simply do not have the time to spend two or four years in college,” he said. “We complement TSTC on the mission to place Texans in better-paying jobs.”

To learn more, visit


Computer Programming Technology at TSTC offers remote learning and good job market

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Computer Programming Technology is one of Texas State Technical College’s programs that is offered completely online — a bonus in this era of social distancing. The Associate of Applied Science degree program can lead to a fast-growing career that shows no signs of slowing down.

Despite learning from home, students are introduced to courses that will give them a competitive edge in the world of computer programming. The curriculum at TSTC includes database programming, Java programming, mobile applications development, and more.

“We live in a world today where, at the click of a mouse or the tap of a finger, we have access to products, information and resources to help us in our daily lives,” said Steven Coffman, lead instructor for Computer Programing Technology. “Computer programmers make this possible.”

The global pandemic has increased uneasiness in the job market, especially for those just graduating from college. Coffman reiterated that computer programming is not an area that potential programmers should worry about.

“We have not seen a decline in demand for computer programmers and do not expect to see one anytime soon,” he said. “Additionally, we have been very encouraged to see our recent graduates of the program around the state find employment after graduation, despite the economic downturn.”

Not only does a career in computer programming offer solace in the fact that programmers are in demand, but because of the flexibility of the occupation, many computer programmers can work from the comfort of their own homes.

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

Registration for the fall semester is underway. To learn more about Computer Programming Technology at TSTC, visit

TSTC scholarship allows veteran’s dream of becoming a wind energy technician become reality

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Eliodoro Rivas is no stranger to hard work and determination.

After serving in the U.S. Army for three years, he decided to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology at Texas State Technical College.

The AT&T Wind Energy Scholarship from TSTC  is helping him achieve his goal.

“Receiving the scholarship was certainly a big, welcome surprise,” the 23-year-old San Benito native said. “The funding I received from the scholarship has helped me significantly. I was able to buy supplies for my classes, and it gave me peace of mind.”

Renewable energy has long held a strong appeal for Rivas.

“I always found renewable energy fascinating,” he said. I remember reading about solar and wind energy in high school. During my time in the service, I became really interested in wind energy, and I saw that TSTC offered a program for it.”

Rivas felt like he had some catching up to do career-wise when he left the military.

“Coming out of the service really opened my eyes to how rough the world can be once you are out,” he said. “Educationally I felt way behind my peers, and I wanted to catch up immediately and build a career. I’d heard stories of students obtaining their four-year degrees but having no job opportunities. I did not want to waste more time, so I decided a technical degree was arguably the best option.”

His work ethic is one thing that allows him to enjoy his time in the wind energy program.

“I like that I have the ability to really apply myself to the work, both mentally and physically” he said. “Being able to read, write and speak the language of schematics, electrical and mechanical components is amazing. It really feels like learning another language. I’m also no stranger to physical labor, and I absolutely love heights.”

Rivas’ instructors at TSTC have left an impact on him and his aspiration to become a wind energy technician.

“Whether it was challenging me every step of the way or going beyond what was asked of them, they really inspired me.”

Rivas, who recently became a father, said that everything from here on out is for his family.

“After I graduate, I hope to start my career as a wind turbine technician. Being a first-time father means I can’t afford to slow down anytime soon. Everything I do is for my son, and I know this career path will help me grow and provide for my family.”

He credits the Army and TSTC for allowing him to continue fulfilling his dream.

“The Army has become a part of me,” he said. “I never, ever want to let that go. When I start my career as a wind turbine technician, I hope to reenlist and join the National Guard—part-time soldier, full-time wind technician.”

To learn more about TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program, visit

TSTC alumnus brings passion for technology to the classroom

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Steven Coffman credits life-changing instructors at Texas State Technical College for his love of teaching. Currently he is lead instructor for Computer Programming Technology at TSTC. He hopes to bring that same level of inspiration to the curriculum, which is offered completely online, in the same way that his instructors did for him.

What do you enjoy about working with students?

I really enjoy it when students realize that they are more capable than they may have previously thought. To many students, programming can seem like a tall mountain to climb, and it is great to see so many reach the top and look back down.

Do you have a favorite TSTC memory?

My first graduation ceremony was just one special moment out of many. A graduate has their whole life before them, and I feel fortunate to have played some part of that journey. I have also met and had the opportunity to work with so many great people at TSTC.

What inspired you to get into higher education?

As a graduate of TSTC myself, I always had a lingering interest in teaching. I can specifically attribute this to some of the great computer science instructors that I had when I was a student. I wanted to be able to do for our students what those instructors did for me.

Do you have any advice for students considering this path?

If you are motivated and are willing to face a challenge as an opportunity rather than a roadblock, then you can be successful as a computer programmer. And no, you do not have to be a technical wizard before you join our degree program.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Programming Technology. To learn more, visit