Author Archives: Julie Cromeens

TSTC Welcomes New Instructor, New Program

(FORT BEND COUNTY) – The August 2016 opening of Texas State Technical College’s Fort Bend County campus is around the corner and Alfonso Medrano is the newest addition to the faculty team.

The Houston native has been named the Telecommunications Technology instructor and he comes to the college classroom with extensive field experience.

TSTC FB AlfonsoMedrano FacultyHighlight

“I’ve only been with TSTC a short time, but I’m so impressed already,” said Medrano. “I’ve met great people with such positive attitudes. They are what make every day a great day to come to work.”

Medrano began his career in Telecommunications with Time Warner Cable after earning his associate degree in 1999 from Education America in Electronics and Computer Technology. He worked for Time Warner for 15 years, before deciding to make the change into education.

At Time Warner, the TSTC instructor started as a technician, became a certified technician within one year and moved up the ladder as an electronics technician, contract coordinator, before finally ending his career with Time Warner as an analyst for their Center of Excellence.

“I loved my career, I loved what I was doing,” said Medrano. “But I also felt the need to teach my skills. To make a difference in someone’s life and his/her career. It was time for me to share my knowledge, challenges and experiences. That’s what brought me to TSTC.”

Medrano said he has big goals for his students and his classroom. He said the most important job duty he has is making his students and their education a number one priority.

“It’s my job to make sure that my students understand everything I teach them,” said Medrano. “I need to make sure they are ready and fully prepared for the field. It’s my duty to expose them to all of the tools they will use in the industry and make sure they receive the best hands-on training, which TSTC already offers.”

Another one of Medrano’s main goals is to maintain and create new contacts in the telecommunications industry to help his students find good-paying jobs straight out of his program.

“My job doesn’t stop in the classroom,” said Medrano. “I need to help these students find jobs to begin their career. And ultimately, I want industry to be calling us requesting our students because of how skilled they are.”

Telecommunication Technology is a new program at TSTC in Fort Bend County that will begin in August with the opening of the new campus, and Medrano said he is honored to be the founding instructor.

When Medrano is not working, he is busy being a student himself. He is currently attending Walden University online to complete his doctorate in General Psychology and is already working on his dissertation.

Medrano also holds a bachelor’s degree in Business and a master’s degree in Psychology.

“It’s always been a life goal of mine to earn a PhD,” said Medrano. “It’s been a challenge because I’m a family man, so studying time has definitely cut into family time. But my wife and kids have been very supportive and I’m so close to finishing.”

Medrano is married with two children, a daughter who is 13-years-old and a son who is 11. On his time off he enjoys spending quality time with them and coaching boxing and baseball, two activities his children are actively involved in respectively.

“My kids are awesome, they’re my life,” said Medrano. “There is always something to do and they teach me something new every day.”

Ultimately, Medrano hopes to grow with TSTC and eventually earn a department chair title, but for now he is thankful for the opportunity he has been given to share his skill and knowledge with the future employees of the telecommunications field.

For more information on Telecommunications Technology call 832-223-0608.

Registration for Summer and Fall 2016 is already in progress. To register or apply anytime visit

TSTC Employee, Student Realizes Goal of a College Education

(HARLINGEN) – Graduation has been a long time coming for Texas State Technical College student and employee Monica Zuniga, but the journey was not always easy.

The wife and mother of two daughters will be graduating April 29 with her associate degree in Education and Training, a career she said has always been interested in because of her love for children.

Monica Zuniga S16 Graduate 5x7

“I didn’t think I would ever see the day I would graduate,” said Zuniga. “There have been so many obstacles that have discouraged me, but now I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’m so excited.”

The 32-year-old is a 2002 graduate of Harlingen High School, but because her parents were migrant workers, Zuniga would fall behind in school. Adding to the challenge, Zuniga was already living on her own, making work a necessity.

“I was in high school and working a part-time job,” said Zuniga. “College was never encouraged when I was growing up, so I felt my only option after high school was to find a full-time job to support myself.”

Zuniga’s aunts were custodians at TSTC at the time of her high school graduation so they helped her apply, marking the beginning of her TSTC career in 2002. Because this was Zuniga’s first job, she did not have a car to get to work, and she did not always have a ride. Many of her days were spent walking to and from work. It would be 11 years, before Zuniga would realize she could do more with her life.

“Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about being a custodian, but I wanted to be more for myself and for my daughters,” said Zuniga. “It wasn’t always easy though.”

So in 2013, Zuniga applied for the cashier position she currently holds and it opened an entirely new chapter in her life. She enrolled at TSTC as a student, but she describes her college experience as a rollercoaster.

“I had ups and downs and there was always a twist or turn,” said Zuniga. “One of my daughters got very sick and ended up needing three surgeries. I was in and out of class and work; she was my priority. I had to take care of her. It definitely pushed me back though and there were days I felt like just giving up.”

Zuniga credits two of her colleagues for giving her the encouragement to keep going. She said Adela Alaniz, student accounting assistant and Lynda Lopez, executive director of Communications, were always my support.

“They both never let me give up,” said Zuniga. “Sometimes they were brutally honest with me, but that’s what got me through. I didn’t have that support anywhere else, and knowing they believed in me and what I could do meant a lot.”

With the support of Alaniz, Lopez, her husband, daughters and instructors, Zuniga has been able to realize the goal she set for herself, which is becoming a college graduate. She is currently completing her practicum in a third grade classroom at Ben Milam Elementary School in Harlingen to earn the last of the credits she needs before graduation.

“I’ve learned so much during my time at TSTC. The hands-on training I’ve received has prepared me for my career and future,” said Zuniga. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with a great teacher during my practicum. I’ve gotten great exposure to a classroom environment and have learned so many new techniques.”

Although Zuniga will continue working at TSTC after graduation, she plans on attending one of the universities available to her through TSTC’s University Center to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

“I want current and prospective TSTC students to know that nothing is impossible,” said Zuniga. “TSTC is full of people who are ready to help you succeed if you’re willing to try hard and never give up. If I can do it, so can they.”

Zuniga is one of 392 graduates who will earn certificates and associate degrees at TSTC’s Commencement Ceremony on April 29 at Marine Military Academy’s Yeckel Memorial Auditorium. Ceremonies are scheduled for 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

For more information on Education and Training call 956-364-4747.

Registration is in progress for Summer and Fall 2016. Apply or register anytime at

TSTC Harlingen Earns Most Medals at SkillsUSA State Conference

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College recently held the SkillsUSA State Conference in Waco and the students from TSTC in Harlingen brought home the wins making the south Texas campus a leader in the most medals won.

TSTC SkillsUSA GoldMedalWinners

A total of 32 medals were earned, 20 of those were gold. All gold medal winners will be competing in the National SkillsUSA Leadership Conference in Kentucky June 20-24.

“This year was very successful. We had more programs with gold medal winners and top three finalists than previous years,” said Isaac Gonzalez, TSTC SkillsUSA coordinator. “We’re hoping for the best from our students at nationals and hoping for a few gold medals, but most importantly, our students are competing for one goal and that’s to be the best at what they do.”

SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help high school and college students pursue successful technical careers. Members build these skills through student-led team meetings, contests, leadership conferences and other activities.

Students in SkillsUSA participate in hands-on competitions in various fields such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics, carpentry and urban search and rescue.

Ricardo Santos, one of the team members who earned gold in the Robotic Urban Search and Rescue category of the competition, said he is proud of his and his team member Cecilia Zebrowski’s gold medal win. Both Santos and Zebrowski are Precision Machining Technology majors pursuing associate degrees at TSTC.

“We were both so excited when we learned we had won,” said Santos. “But also very nervous, because now it meant we are going to compete against the best robotics teams from each state.”

Like other SkillsUSA participants and teams, Santos and Zebrowski prepared for competition in the evenings, sometimes being on campus as late at 9 p.m. This time was used to perfect their design on their robot Stang, in homage to TSTC’s now retired mascot the mustang.

Both Santos and Zebrowski got support from large businesses such as the Harlingen Manufacturing Association and United Launch Alliance which each donated $500 s for a robot kit for the competition.

“We at ULA have a high regard for TSTC’s technical curriculum as it aligns with our overall support for STEM-related programs,” said Tim Piller, ULA site lead. “Providing support to the urban search and rescue team enables the inspired team members the opportunity to compete and display their talents.”

Zebrowski said she is looking forward to the national conference and preparations for the competition are underway. She said the donations they received have helped tremendously.

“These donations have been such a huge help. When we started we had nothing but a pencil and some software to design our robot,” said Zebrowski. “We are both overwhelmed and honored that these major local companies were willing to invest in us. We hope we can prove ourselves worthy with our robotics skills at nationals.”

For more information on SkillsUSA or Precision Machining Technology, call 956-364-4815.

Registration for Summer and Fall 2016 is in progress. Apply or register anytime online at

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Brownsville native Joel Jimenez is a student at Texas State Technical College pursuing an associate degree in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology. The 19-year-old will be graduating this month with a 3.75 grade-point average.


When Jimenez is not studying you can find him working with the Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Club. As a member of the club, he is an active volunteer with the Harlingen Aerotropolis Project designing three dimensional models used to attract aerospace manufacturing companies to the city and with the Rover Team building a vehicle with tracking equipment that will be used to survey land.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation I plan on continuing with academic classes at TSTC. Then I plan on transferring to a university to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become a licensed engineer managing an engineering research firm that leads the development of transhumanism, which expands the advancement of human capabilities physically, intellectually and psychologically.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment while at TSTC was the opportunity I received to represent the college at SkillsUSA. I recently received a gold medal in Automated Manufacturing Technology and will be traveling to Kentucky in June to compete at the SkillsUSA National Conference. Last year, I received a gold in Technical Drafting and competed at the national level as well.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

There is a saying that has always stuck with me, “Si estas triste en lo pequeño, estarás triste en lo grande”.  In other words, you should be happy with what you have. I believe this is important to remember if you want to be successful in life.

Name a TSTC person who most influenced your success?

The person who has influenced my success the most is my instructor David Campos. He is a man with good intentions for his students, ongoing perseverance and quick witted thoughts. It is his dedication to student success that has inspired me to fully understand my field of study.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

I advise future TSTC students to join as many clubs as possible, and to attend as many events they can. TSTC has a lot to offer and being actively involved makes a big difference in your college experience. You not only meet more people, but you also make connections that may help you in the future. More than anything though, enjoy your time at TSTC because time goes by too fast.

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Arturo Tijerina is a Texas State Technical College graduate, but is currently completing his Academic Core. The Brownsville native graduated with his associate degree in Mechatronics Technology in December 2015 and holds an impressive 3.6 grade-point average.


What are your plans after graduation?

After completing my Academic Core and leaving TSTC, I plan on continuing my education to get a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. However, I will need to find a job in my field first to help pay for my university studies.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to be an Electrical Designer for a major renewable energy company. I want to join the new clean-energy-producing era and eventually design projects that are both reliable and efficient to get the most power out of natural resources. Beyond designing I also want to work in the field and supervise my project to make sure it is running the way I designed it to work.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishments at TSTC were to graduate with honors and proudly wear my Honor Cords at the commencement ceremony. I’m also proud to have been invited to join and be inducted into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society in recognition for my high grade-point average.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson life has shown me is that what you learn is never forgotten. My family owns and operates Tijerina’s Auto Electric in Brownsville, so at a young age I learned how to repair and service electronic issues associated with automobiles, oil-rig equipment and heavy machinery. This is where my love for the field comes from.

Name a TSTC person who most influenced your success?

The TSTC person that most influenced my success is Mechatronics Department Chair Diego Villarreal. He has taught me everything he knows about the industry and never cuts corners. He always makes sure that everything he taught us was understood. He was hard on us sometimes, but only because he needed to make sure we knew how to correctly get the job done to prepare us for the field.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to set up a plan and run with it. The hardest part about doing anything is getting started. Once you start, it’s all uphill from there. It’s important students set high standards for themselves and never settle for anything less. They need to know it’s okay to ask for help and in the end all of the struggles are worth it. Remember, never see the problems in life, only look for the solutions.

College for Heroes Helps Veterans Go From Boots to Books

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College will be hosting College for Heroes, a day dedicated to veterans to help them go from boots to books.

The event will be held Monday, April 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the TSTC Cultural Arts Center and is being hosted to further educate veterans and their dependents on the programs, benefits and resources available to them at TSTC.


“Our veterans have done so much for us, they’ve sacrificed a lot and TSTC appreciates their service,” said TSTC Vice President of College Readiness Javier Deleon. “That’s why we’ve created this day solely for veterans and their families. It’s our turn to do our part and take care of them.”

The goal of the event is to provide veterans and their families who are interested in a post-secondary education or are wanting to return to college after time away with information and resources needed to help them get on a career track.

“Many times we hold recruitment events or student orientations that are for an array of people from different walks of life,” said Deleon. “But this event is tailored to veterans and their families. We want to take the initiative and be the college that reaches out so they can receive all the information they need. We don’t want them to miss out on a college education.”

College for Heroes Day will also consist of workshops presented by admissions, financial aid and the TSTC Veterans Center. Followed by lunch and station visits with veteran community outreach organizations such as the Vet Mobile Unit, Cameron County Veteran Service Office, VA Suicide Prevention and Texas Veterans Commission, among many others.

One-on-one tours of the college and its 40 programs will also be available for veterans and their families.

“TSTC faculty and staff always aim to have one-on-one time with prospective and current students,” said Ashley Contreras, College for Heroes Day event coordinator. “This event was designed to be focused primarily on veterans and their families having that one-on-one time they need and deserve.”

Statewide, veterans and their dependents make up a significant part of TSTC’s student population. According to numbers from TSTC’s Veterans Center Director Steve Guevara, there are 835 veterans and their dependents enrolled using GI Bill or Hazelwood benefits at the 10 TSTC campuses. Of these 835 students, 256 are at Harlingen’s TSTC campus.

“On College for Heroes Day, we’ll be available to answer any questions returning or new veteran students may have regarding benefits or the process they have to take to enroll at TSTC,” said Guevara. “This is a one-stop shop for them.”

The Veterans Center, alongside the Veteran Students Alliance Club, are active all year in assisting veterans and their dependents with admission and benefits processes, including advisement, providing internal and external resources and outreach programs, and scholarships.

TSTC’s Waco campus will also be hosting College for Heroes Day on April 21. Approximately, 422 veterans and their dependents are enrolled at that campus.

“All of these men and women and their families have sacrificed so much for our country,” said Deleon. “We want them to know we appreciate it and this is our way of saying thank you and doing our part in providing something back to them.”

The College for Heroes Day event is free and open to any veteran or his/her dependent.  To RSVP or for more information, call TSTC’s Veterans Center at 956-364-4385.

TSTC Opens Doors of Opportunity with Annual Industry Career Fair

(HARLINGEN) – “Placing more Texans,” is a statewide Texas State Technical College initiative and hosting industry career fairs is one way TSTC makes this a reality.

TSTC students recently had the opportunity to network with more than 40 industry representatives during the TSTC Talent Management and Career Services’ annual Industry Career Fair at the TSTC Cultural Arts Center.

The Industry Career Fair is held once a year during the first week of April to accommodate the large number of students who graduate in the spring and are looking for job placement. For many, this is their chance to speak to, and apply for jobs with companies that are looking to hire TSTC graduates.


“The majority of the companies that attend our industry career fair contact us to be here,” said Viviana Espinoza, interim director for Career Services. “They want the TSTC talent.”

Career fair participant Naismith Engineering, Inc. employs mostly TSTC graduates and make it a priority to attend events like this held by the college. Danny Torres, Computer Aided Design and Drafting technician and Armando Noriega, drafting supervisor and engineering technician both graduated with associate degrees from TSTC and participated as recruiters this year.

“We have not only been through the process these students are going through, but now as employers we like what we see,” said Torres. “We always come back and staff our departments with students from here. When they start with our company they are always the most prepared, have the skill set needed to succeed with us and require the least amount of training.”

Torres and Noriega also conducted on-site interviews for qualified candidates. In fact, numerous employers took the initiative to interview applicants on the spot. Espinoza said these factors are one reason this career fair is so successful.

“A lot of our students will receive a job offer today, and that’s our goal,” said Espinoza. “With graduation around the corner finding employment is one less thing they have to worry about.”


TSTC Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics student Andrew Villarreal expects to graduate Spring 2016 with an associate degree. He said with graduation fast approaching, this career fair was especially important to him.

“I’m actively looking to begin my career,” said Villarreal. “I’ve already turned in my resume to several companies and got an interview, so I’m praying.”

Villarreal was one of the few students Naismith Engineering interviewed. He said if hired by the engineering company he hopes to work as a Civil Engineer.

“Just today I’ve made so many contacts,” said Villarreal. “I feel today’s event has opened doors of opportunity for me.”

Villarreal hopes to get some news on his job prospects in a couple of weeks.

For more information on the services provided by Talent Management and Career Services call 956-364-4940.

TSTC Financial Adviser Finds Himself Where It All Started

(FORT BEND COUNTY) – Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County recently welcomed Erasmo Chapa, the newest financial aid adviser to the financial aid team. The Rio Grande Valley native started his career with TSTC in 1993 and is happy to finally be back.


“It’s funny how life comes full circle,” said Chapa. “My financial aid career started with TSTC and here I am again, this time preparing for a brand new campus.”

Chapa, is not only a previous employee of TSTC, but also an alumnus. The PSJA Bears graduate enrolled at TSTC and completed a certificate in Information Management Technology in 1992, and an associate degree in 1995, before earning his bachelor’s degree in Business Technology from the University of Texas Pan American in 1999.

Chapa comes to TSTC with extensive experience in financial aid advisement. He first started as a financial aid intern in 1993, before receiving a full-time job offer from TSTC for a financial aid clerk position. Since then, Chapa has also worked as a financial aid technician, and specialist.

In 2008, the TSTC alumnus decided he needed something new in his life. So, he left the Rio Grande Valley and moved to the Houston area.

“I wanted a change. I wanted something different,” said Chapa. “I hit a rough patch though. I couldn’t find permanent jobs. Things got better though when I was informed about TSTC’s new campus in Fort Bend County. I immediately knew where I had to be.”

Fortunately, for Chapa, there was a financial aid adviser position open and he quickly applied.

“Even though I took a break from working in financial aid, I truly never stopped,” said Chapa. “I was always helping family and friends complete their financial aid applications.”

Chapa said he is excited to be part of the TSTC team again and is ready to provide the best service he can to all current and prospective TSTC students. His goal is to make sure that students know they can always count on him to give them the help they deserve.

“I’m here 100 percent for our students,” said Chapa. “My job is to get them ready for class without worrying about their financial aid or how they’re going to pay for college.”

With the new TSTC campus opening in August 2016, Chapa is looking forward to growing with the college and his team.

“It’s only a matter of time before our team grows,” said Chapa. “I look forward to growing with TSTC and seeing all of the positive results this college will bring to the area.”

For help completing the FAFSA or for questions on financial aid, Chapa can be found at Lamar High School in Rosenberg, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon, and at the Go Center mobile unit parked at the TSTC campus from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information on TSTC financial aid call 832-223-0609.

TSTC Hosts RGV Space Summit

(HARLINGEN) – The RGV Space Summit was recently hosted at Texas State Technical College to introduce the Harlingen Aerotropolis project and inform students of the educational opportunities the project will bring to skilled graduates from Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs.


“We have a gold mine with Harlingen Aerotropolis,” said Frank Espinoza, manager of community affairs for American Electric Power Texas, during his summit speech. “Events like this show that we, as a group, see full potential in this project and are ready to cater to the aerospace industry.”

RGV AerospaceSummit_FrankEspinozaAEP

Harlingen Aerotropolis is a 450-acre AEP quality site that was created to increase the number of project-ready industrial sites. The Aerotropolis will be home to four development districts: aeronautical, light industry, business complex and general retail, all centered around the Valley International Airport.


“This is going to transform our region,” said Espinoza. “But a young, trainable workforce is critical to the aerotropolis’ success.”


Marv Esterly, director of aviation for Valley International Airport, said the overall goal of the summit was to speak to students about the importance of pursuing STEM careers.


“Many of the programs at TSTC, from welding to mechatronics and engineering, have a place in the aerospace industry,” said Esterly. “Today we need to show TSTC students what possibilities there are and how they can take advantage of these high-tech, high-paying jobs coming to our area soon.”


United Launch Alliance, NASA and Agile Aero led informational sessions for high school and TSTC students enrolled in STEM programs. Each session was 40 minutes long and highlighted each company’s profile, introduced students to instruments and equipment they will be using in the field and explained the importance of STEM skills to the aerospace industry.


“Today’s event is opening a lot of opportunities for us,” said Genesis Martinez, TSTC Aviation Maintenance Technology student. “This is really helping me decide what I want to do after TSTC. It’s giving me more insight into companies and what to expect in the field.”


Beyond the classroom, TSTC students in the Architectural Design and Engineering Graphic program are working closely with the Harlingen Aerotropolis project drawing, rendering and completing 3D images of the testing facilities and buildings that will one day make up the aerotropolis.


“These students have not disappointed. Every task we give them, they complete successfully,” said Esterly. “We’ll be able to use their 3D models to market to the companies we want to attract to Harlingen Aerotropolis. We’re excited about our future and our close relationship with TSTC.”


The students working on the aerotropolis project will be traveling to NASA to tour actual testing facilities to help with their designs for the Harlingen Aerotropolis.


“Our faculty and staff are the heartbeat of TSTC,” said TSTC Provost Dr. Stella Garcia. “Our students are prepared for the workforce because of projects like this and when they graduate they get high-paying jobs.”


For more information on any of the technology programs listed, please visit Registration for Summer 2016 and Fall 2016 is now in progress.


Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College student Ashley Salinas,, is studying Business Management Technology. Salinas expects to graduate with her associate degree in May 2017.

The 20- year-old Los Fresnos native first became interested in her chosen career path when she took a job as a student worker at the TSTC Career Services Department.


“Working there was my first time working in an office environment,” said Salinas. “I really like it, plus I’m good at it. So, I decided to make it a career.”


In her free time, Salinas enjoys photography and graphic design.


What are your plans after graduation?

After graduating from TSTC, I plan on transferring to UTRGV so I can pursue a bachelor’s degree in Business Management.


What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to work in a friendly office environment in which I can utilize my business management skills.


What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment at TSTC so far is knowing that by the end of this semester I will finish all of my Academic Core classes with TSTC.


What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The great lesson I have learned is that failure is the key to success. Failing shows that you have at least tried. It gives me the opportunity to fix my mistakes and keep trying until I achieve success.


Name a TSTC person who most influenced your success?

The TSTC person who has most influenced my success is Viviana Espinosa, interim director for Career Services. She is my confidant, I can talk to her about anything and she always has great advice. She has shared her career path with me and has taken the time to teach me everything I know about business management. She truly believes in me and believes I can succeed.


What is your advice for future TSTC students?

I want future TSTC students to know that it is important to understand the significance of perseverance. No matter how hard a class is, or how difficult anything in general can be, it is important to try your best and never give up.