Category Archives: Sweetwater

TSTC Welding Program Meets Industry Need

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – The welding program at Texas State Technical College is training and educating highly skilled welders quickly to continue to meet industry demand. 

Texas has the highest employment level for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And demand is expected to keep growing.

“The students come in and earn a Certification Level 1 – Structural Welding in three semesters and are trained in various welds like MIG, TIG, flux-core, stick, oxy-fuel, brazing and more,” Taylor Elston, welding instructor at the Sweetwater campus, said.

As students near graduation, Elston spends time with each one figuring out their career plans and caters to their education with that in mind.

“About the third semester, we’ll start asking the students which type of welding they enjoy most and where they want to live and what kind of job they want. Because in welding there are so many specializations, they can have a choice of where they end up,” Elston said. “So, once we learn what they really want to do, we’ll help them start preparing for that weld test so they can get the job they want.”  

One of the biggest appeals to the welding program for student Kelton Grigsby was TSTC’s proximity to industry and dedication to job placement.

“I want to work in Lubbock, and TSTC is close to those industry leaders. There is a big need for welders. I have family in welding, so I know how lucrative welding can be,” Grigsby said. 

Grigsby began welding in high school. After graduating from Godley High School in 2018, he decided to attend TSTC. 

Clint Faulkner also chose the welding program for career growth opportunities.

“My dad and I have been building metal buildings, carports and other structures for the past four years, and it was important that I get a refresher on my welding and get the technical skills here,” Faulkner said. 

After a nine-year career in truck driving, Faulkner, a Big Spring native, decided he needed a career that was more physically active. 

Grigsby and Faulkner are expected to earn their certificates and graduate in August.

TSTC students spend a majority of their time in the lab with hands-on practice to ensure the technical skills, but Elston says the college is also dedicated to ensuring that students are job-ready.

“With the TSTC Career Services team helping us, we really make sure the students have not only the quality education, but also the soft skills like resumes and job etiquette,”  Elston said. “We make them treat school like their job; they have to show up and show up on time. So when they graduate they won’t just be good welders, but also good employees.” 

Elston encourages anyone interested in the program to come to the campus and schedule a tour.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information about TSTC, go online at tstc.edu.

Texas State Technical College students at the Sweetwater campus practice their welding skills to prepare for high demand careers.

TSTC Student Veteran First in Family to Graduate College

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – When Texas State Technical College student veteran, Juan Lopez decided to go back to school, he didn’t realize the new, literal heights he would reach with his degree. 

Lopez, from San Antonio, is a student in the Wind Energy Technology program and is expected to graduate in August 2019 with his Associate of Applied Science degree. Before graduating, Lopez has already started working in the field for Airway Services, Inc. as a wind technician scaling 300-feet-tall wind turbines.  

“I drove past wind turbines a lot and always wondered about them, but I had no clue that there was a job that let you climb 300 feet up to work on them. Once I did more research into the program, it seemed right up my ally with all the maintenance, problem solving and working with my hands,” Lopez said. 

Before starting at TSTC, Lopez served in the Marine Corps from 2002-2012. After the military, he worked in the oil field but decided he needed more job security. .

“Wind turbines are right in my backyard, the work is steady and the money is good. I can be close to home and provide for my wife and daughter,” Lopez said. 

Lopez says his 10-month-old daughter was a large part of the reason why he wanted to be the first in his family to graduate with a college degree. 

“There’s a sense of accomplishment for me, but also I want to do it for her to give her the best I can,” he said. 

Lopez’s dedication to his school work was obvious to instructors Ron Rendon and Mary Madden, both Navy veterans.

Juan was one of my best students;  always on time, assignments were always completed on time.  He was a mentor to several students, and has a great work ethic, always going above and beyond in every aspect,” Rendon, instructor for wind turbine technology said. 

As classes went on, Lopez found out he shared more than just veteran status with Madden –  they had served on the same aircraft carrier – the USS Nimitz (CVN-68). 

“Juan and I spent some time remembering life on board ship and compared notes on tours we both made overseas,” Madden, instructor for electromechanical technology said. “He is a hard worker, and he wants to take care of his family.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor and the American Wind Energy Association based in Washington DC, Wind Turbine Technology is “the fastest growing job in America.”  Lopez says he is trying to recruit his military and oil field friends to come check out the wind program.

“I mean there’s nothing quite like it when you’re getting to work that high up. And, you’ve got a real chance to move up in the company with the degree from TSTC,” Lopez said.

Lopez encourages prospective students to stay motivated and find what will drive them to succeed. 

Fall Semester registration is ongoing right now. For more information about TSTC, log on to tstc.edu.

 

Juan Lopez is a TSTC Wind Energy Technology student veteran working for Airway Services, Inc. He is expected to graduate August 2019.

TSTC Employee Recognized for 35 Years of Service

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Sweetwater native Glen Bedgood was recently recognized for his exceptional 35 years of service to Texas State Technical College during TSTC’s Employee Appreciation Day. 

Since graduating from East Texas State University, now Texas A&M University-Commerce, as a double major in computer science and commercial art, Bedgood has spent his professional career serving the students and employees of TSTC. 

“I just felt, and still feel, like this place was my calling. After I graduated college, I came back home to Sweetwater, and it all just fell into place that I should be at TSTC,” Bedgood said. 

Although Bedgood serves as the senior internal systems analyst for TSTC Human Resources, he has worn many hats during his time at TSTC. He says each job has allowed him a rare chance to understand all the roles at the college and helped him better relate to his TSTC teammates. 

His dedication to efficiency and putting the ‘human’ in human resources has made him stand out to his co-workers over the years. 

“35 years — what an exceptional milestone! Glen has held many positions at TSTC, and his success is due to his attention to detail, job knowledge, and ability to communicate with all he interacts with,” TSTC Provost Rick Denbow said. 

To one employee in particular, watching Bedgood receive his 35-year plaque was a very special moment. 

Jacob Bedgood, Glen Bedgood’s son and a TSTC graphic designer, said the moment put into perspective how much his father has dedicated to the college. 

“Having grown up only ever knowing my dad to be a TSTC employee, it doesn’t always hit me just how much of his life and his energy he’s devoted to this organization,” he said. “It’s certainly a lot to live up to, both as a son and as a fellow employee. But I’m fortunate to have him setting that example for me. I’m definitely proud of him.”

One of Glen Bedgood’s favorite things about working at TSTC is the opportunity to make a positive change in a person’s life. 

“There is something about sharing knowledge and teaching that is just really fun, and I love it. I truly believe in the mission here at TSTC and seeing students succeed,” he said.

While 35 years may sound like a long time, Bedgood has no intention of leaving anytime soon. 

“As long as I am doing good for the college and can make a difference, I don’t know why I would ever leave. This is a job I love,” Bedgood said. 

For more information about TSTC, log on to tstc.edu.

Glen Bedgood was recently recognized for his 35 years of service to Texas State Technical College.

TSTC Hosts Stop the Bleed Training

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Texas State Technical College recently partnered with local first responders to host Stop the Bleed training for students, faculty and staff at its campuses in Abilene and Sweetwater.

Stop the Bleed is a national campaign initiated by the National Security Council to better prepare the public to save lives and raise awareness of basic actions to stop life-threatening bleeding following emergencies or disasters.

TSTC police patrolman Jeff Miller learned about the campaign during a training exercise and thought it was vital to share with TSTC students and employees.

“This course’s key message is training everyday people to save lives because there is nothing more sad than a preventable death,” Miller said.

The course takes about 90 minutes, including a formal presentation and hands-on practice of direct-pressure application, wound packing and tourniquet use.

“We are bringing this to TSTC to educate on bleeding control. This program is specifically designed for everyday people to be able to save lives in case of a catastrophic accident, traffic accident or disaster of that nature,” Grant Madden, fire chief for Sweetwater Fire Department, said.

The Stop the Bleed training is free, and more than 500,000 people have been trained in almost 90 countries and all 50 states.

“This training is important, and we are coordinating it with the police department and the local first responders because the safety of our employees and students is paramount to us,” said Holle England, training supervisor with TSTC Employee Development.

After the training was completed, 18 Stop the Bleed personal bleeding control kits were left for TSTC to distribute throughout its campus buildings.

For more information about TSTC, log on to tstc.edu.

Grant Madden, fire chief for Sweetwater Fire Department, shows TSTC employees how to use a tourniquet at Stop the Bleed training.

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TSTC Student to Compete for Third Time at SkillsUSA Nationals

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – The saying goes that all good things come in threes, and Texas State Technical College nursing student Kacee Merrifield hopes that saying will ring true for her.

Merrifield will represent Texas and TSTC for the third time at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, in late June.

A Mineral Wells native, Merrifield is enrolled in the LVN to RN Transition program and working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree. Previously she had earned a Vocational Nursing certificate from TSTC.

During her time at TSTC, Merrifield has competed at SkillsUSA three years in a row, winning state all three times and placing nationally twice.

“It’s a very validating feeling when you get to test your skills against others in your industry. But it’s so much more than just winning a medal,” Merrifield said.

SkillsUSA is a national partnership between students, teachers and industries working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce.

In 2017 Merrifield placed first in state for Health Knowledge Bowl, continuing on to win fourth place at nationals. In 2018 she won first place in state for Nurse Assisting and sixth at nationals. She competed in Practical Nursing this year and won first place.

“I really love SkillsUSA and what it does for me and for others. A big part of being a nurse is people skills, and at SkillsUSA you meet so many people and work with so many different personalities (that) you really get to practice that skill on top of all your other skills,” Merrifield said.

During the Practical Nursing competition, Merrifield will take both a written test and a hands-on test. She will work with a volunteer and perform various tasks.

“We practice everything from medications to vital signs to wound care and even what we would delegate to someone else; it’s a real-world environment,” she said.

With such an impressive record, it is no surprise that her instructors are proud of her.

Marchelle Taylor is TSTC’s Vocational Nursing program director in West Texas and the West Texas SkillsUSA coordinator.

“Kacee has been a huge success story in the TSTC nursing program,” Taylor said. “She has worked full time, attended classes and helped other contestants prepare for Skills competitions.  It is students with her dedication and work ethic that make teaching at TSTC such an honor.”

Merrifield says the best part of going to SkillsUSA nationals again is the chance to meet more people.

“My favorite thing has to be talking with other nursing students, learning what is different in each state and getting to learn more about this career field. SkillsUSA is really amazing. I really encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go,” Merrifield said.

She is expected to graduate in summer 2019.

For more information about TSTC, log on to tstc.edu.

TSTC Student to Compete for Third Time at SkillsUSA Nationals

Kacee Merrifield, pictured above, is a three-time state champion in various nursing competitions for SkillsUSA. This year she will compete in Practical Nursing at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in late June. 
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TSTC Student Veteran to Compete at SkillsUSA Nationals

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – From serving his country overseas to serving his local community, Texas State Technical College student James Phillips III has dedicated his life to helping others.

Phillips, a Big Spring native, is an Army veteran and a Vocational Nursing student at TSTC. He recently competed at the state-level SkillsUSA Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference, where he placed first in CPR Skills.

“I’m still kind of surprised I got first place. I wasn’t expecting it, but I was very excited,” Phillips said.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce. More than 18,000 people, including students, teachers and business partners, are expected to participate in the national event.

Phillips will represent Texas and TSTC at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 24-28.

Phillips was first introduced to CPR training during his time with the military. He enlisted in the Army in 1999 as a helicopter mechanic before serving in the Army’s Special Forces until 2008.

“We needed to know the basics of medical care and act as a first responder, so we learned CPR skills and other first-responder skills,” he said.

When Phillips is not at school or practicing for SkillsUSA, he is working as a certified nursing assistant at the George H. O’Brien Jr. VA Medical Center in Big Spring.

“It’s a way for me to give back to other veterans but also to be around other nurses and keep learning,” Phillips said.

Phillips stands out to his instructors and classmates not only as an excellent student, but also as the only male in the program.

“Bless his heart. He is the only guy in the class right now, so he’s very protective of the other students and a perfect gentleman. He has been a model student who goes above and beyond. I just can’t say enough good about him,” TSTC vocational nursing instructor Sharon Zetzman-Sparks said.

Being a male nurse is something Phillips knows may be uncommon, but he encourages anyone with a desire to help people to consider the career field.

“It’s something different every day. You keep learning new things, and there is a huge job demand. Being a nurse is very rewarding,” Phillips said.

Phillips is expected to graduate in fall 2019.

For more information about TSTC, go to www.tstc.edu.

TSTC Student Veteran to Compete at SkillsUSA Nationals

James Phillips III is an Army veteran and vocational nursing student at Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater. He will compete in CPR Skills at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

A Sign of Growth for TSTC

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – What says state pride louder than a 15-foot-tall monument in the shape of Texas?
Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater completed the construction of its new sign at the campus entrance in early May. The monument is similar to ones being placed at each of TSTC’s other nine locations.
“The sign is part of the new look and branding of TSTC. These signs are being installed on all the campuses across the state,” Maria Aguirre, senior executive director of
TSTC Communication and Creative Services, said. “Our campuses in West Texas — Abilene,
Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater — are getting the updates on this cycle.”
The signs not only mark the entrance to each campus, but also serve as symbols of statewide unity.
Before its single accreditation in 2014, each TSTC campus operated somewhat independently. Now the unified college has solidified its reputation for providing the Texas workforce with some of the most highly skilled technicians available.
The statewide “way-finding” initiative is being implemented by the TSTC Facilities, Planning, Construction and Maintenance department.
“I was very excited about it. I’m always excited when we get to build something, and it was very much needed,” Raymond Fried, associate vice chancellor of TSTC Facilities, Planning,
Construction and Maintenance Services, said.
The first sign was installed at the Fort Bend County campus in the fall of 2016.
For more information about TSTC, go to www.tstc.edu.
A Sign of Growth for TSTC
The new monument standing at the entrance of TSTC in Sweetwater is 15′ tall and is similar to ones at Texas State Technical College’s nine other campuses. 

TSTC Holds Spring 2019 Commencement

(ABILENE, Texas) – More than 100 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Spring 2019 Commencement held Friday, April 26, at the Abilene Convention Center. Graduates from TSTC’s West Texas campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater were recognized.

For Mary Madden, an instructor in Electromechanical Technology at TSTC in Sweetwater, this was what she looks forward to each semester.

“It’s a time for the students to celebrate their accomplishments and the families to see what they have worked so hard for,” Madden said. “They’re starting a new life, a new career, and it’s exciting.”

One of Madden’s students who also was a teaching assistant, Gary Miller from Sweetwater, walked the stage on Friday.

“I’m proud of him because he not only succeeded in the program, but he helped motivate others to succeed as well,” Madden said.

Miller, an Army veteran, graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electromechanical Technology. He graduated with highest honors, was awarded the Outstanding Student Award, and has already accepted a job with M&S Engineering.

“I worked in construction before coming to TSTC, and this was a way to move up in life,” he said. “It’s never too late to come back. Just don’t give up, and keep pushing through.”

Several other students could be found thanking their instructors and excitedly talking about having accepted job offers.

Shawn Baldauf, from Abilene, graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration and has already started working for Batts Communications Inc. After serving in the military, Baldauf decided to come to TSTC for the flexibility and hands-on learning.

“I really love computers. I think they are awesome, so I’m very happy to have a career in something I love,” Baldauf said.

Baldauf is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society and a recipient of TSTC’s Program Excellence Award.

During the ceremony, Mike Reeser, TSTC’s chancellor and CEO, encouraged the graduates never to stop learning and always to have integrity.

“Technology is constantly changing, so keep learning. But honesty and integrity are two things that have not changed, so remain constant in those,” Reeser said.

Chemical Dependency Counseling graduate Roderick Mayfield, from Breckenridge, felt those two ideals were extremely important to remember in his chosen career path. Mayfield earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in CDC so he can help others overcome substance abuse.

“I want to make a change in someone else’s life that was not made for me. I know addiction firsthand and am in my third year of recovery,” he said. “Instead of saying how you want the world to change, why not take those steps to make a change?”

Mayfield also was awarded a TSTC Program Excellence Award.

Many of Friday’s graduates had family members and loved ones in the audience, but one graduate even had his boss present.

Victor Taylor, of Brownwood, earned his Associate of Applied Science degree in Emergency Medical Services with a specialization in Paramedic Services. Taylor is working for Lifeguard Ambulance Service in Brown County, and his boss was there to cheer him on.

“I think TSTC is one of the best schools out there in this field because of the high standard they hold themselves to,” Taylor said. “I’m working already, if that says anything.”  

Taylor also was a recipient of a Program Excellence Award.

Earlier in the day, the Nursing programs held pinning ceremonies for graduates in Abilene and Sweetwater. Best friends Amanda Griswold and Sherri Whitefield celebrated earning their associate degrees in Nursing with “Finding Nemo”-themed graduation caps.

“She’s my exit buddy, so we’re finishing together,” Griswold said.

The students who graduated Friday join an alumni network of 100,000 strong across Texas.

For more information, go to www.tstc.edu.

TSTC Holds Spring 2019 Commencement

More than a 100 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Spring 2019 Commencement. 

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Two TSTC Employees Recognized With Statewide Award

(Sweetwater) – Two employees at Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater have been honored for their outstanding service and dedication to TSTC.

James Spivey, a building maintenance supervisor, and Karen Waller, chief of staff of Strategic Relations, have received TSTC’s Chancellor’s Excellence Awards.

“Yearly, the Chancellor’s Excellence Award honors those who have consistently demonstrated a work ethic above and beyond their job descriptions, which aligns with our core values of excellence, accountability, service and integrity. On a daily basis James Spivey and Karen Waller exemplify these values; hence, their induction into this elite group is well deserved,” Rick Denbow, provost at TSTC in West Texas, said.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001 and has been given to more than 300 TSTC employees statewide. Recipients are nominated by their peers for their work toward advancing the technical college’s mission.

“The teammates who win this award model excellence for us all and are recognized for both their sound character and for advancing TSTC’s new direction,” said TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser. “Due to their caring and dedicated efforts, TSTC continues to make a difference in the employment success of our students.”

Spivey joined TSTC in 2016 as a maintenance worker and quickly moved up to a leadership role. He was surprised to learn he had won the award but sees it as a win for his team.

“This means my team is working really hard because they are the ones that make me look good. I am exceptionally proud of them, and I am personally flattered,” he said.

Spivey’s first encounter with TSTC was when he was in high school taking welding courses at what was then known as Texas State Technical Institute. He says fate must have been sending him a sign because he decided to work at TSTC after reconnecting with his high school sweetheart, another TSTC employee, who is now his wife.

“This is my home. A lot of places you work at they don’t even know your name, but here there is compassion. I will be here for as long as TSTC will have me,” he said.

Spivey said this is the first time he has received recognition for his work from a company.

Waller felt honored to win the award and said it fueled her passion even more.

“I truly appreciate that my peers felt I deserve this honor. Our work at TSTC is important because we can affect so many lives and have a positive impact in a student’s life and career,” she said.

Waller has dedicated her career to education and has worked the last 26 years in education administration. She started at TSTC in 2012 and promotes educational partnerships with other community colleges, universities and industry leaders.

“I am very proud of my accomplishments at TSTC and plan to continue to make TSTC a great place to work and also a great place for our students to get an education. We are here to educate our students and provide them with a foundation that will serve them the rest of their lives,” she said.

A Snyder native, Waller has lived and worked in the West Texas area her whole life. She is a certified public accountant and has a bachelor’s degree in interior design and a master’s degree in income tax accounting from Texas Tech University.

Spivey and Waller will join 33 other TSTC employees statewide who will be honored at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Excellence Awards Dinner and Celebration in May in Austin.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to www.tstc.edu.

Two TSTC Employees Recognized With Statewide Award

James Spivey, from Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, is a building maintenance supervisor. He was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 

Two TSTC Employees Recognized With Statewide Award

Karen Waller, from Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, is chief of staff of Strategic Relations. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 

Two TSTC Alumni Recognized For Outstanding Service as TSTC Employees

(Sweetwater) – The journey from student to employee has come full circle for two Texas State Technical College alumni who have been honored for their dedication and skills as employees at TSTC in Sweetwater.

Maria Aguirre, statewide senior executive director of Communication and Creative Services, and Elizabeth Reyes, graphic designer, have received TSTC’s Chancellor’s Excellence Awards.

“The Chancellor’s Excellence Award is a yearly recognition for teammates who consistently go above and beyond their normal job duties to improve our students’, and/or our College’s, success. Maria and Liz display, on a daily basis, these lofty attributes,” Rick Denbow, provost at TSTC in West Texas, said.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001 and has been given to more than 300 TSTC employees statewide. Recipients are nominated by their peers for their work toward advancing the technical college’s mission.

“The teammates who win this award model excellence for us all and are recognized for both their sound character and for advancing TSTC’s new direction,” said TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser. “Due to their caring and dedicated efforts, TSTC continues to make a difference in the employment success of our students.”

Aguirre graduated from TSTC in Sweetwater in 1986 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in General Office Technology, an Associate of Applied Science degree in Accounting Systems and a Certificate of Completion in Information Processing. Starting as a student switchboard operator in a work-study program, Aguirre has been employed by TSTC for over 34 years.

“I have dedicated my adult life to TSTC, and I believe in it. I have seen how it changes individuals and families and generations of families — how it can have a positive impact. It’s been my life, and I am honored to be a recipient,” Aguirre said.

She was the first in her family to attend college and has since earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees while moving up within TSTC. She is also a recipient of the Avery Award of Excellence for TSTC staff.

Aguirre is a member of multiple educational organizations and has held several leadership positions as well. She is currently treasurer of the Texas Association of Community College Marketers.

Reyes was surprised to learn she won the award and was overwhelmed with emotion.

“This award means everything; I almost started to cry. It means I’m doing right by the people who hired me and by TSTC,” Reyes said.

Reyes graduated from TSTC in Waco in 2013 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Graphic Design and Advertising, and from TSTC in Sweetwater in 2014 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Software and Business Management. During her time as a student, Reyes worked as a campus housing resident assistant and a secretary for TSTC.

“I hope I can inspire others as my mentors here have inspired me. I am so thankful to TSTC in so many ways because they have shown me that they care about me and treat me like family,” Reyes said.

Reyes has worked with TSTC for over five years and plans to keep growing with TSTC.

Aguirre and Reyes will join 33 other TSTC employees statewide who will be honored at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Excellence Awards Dinner and Celebration in May in Austin.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to www.tstc.edu.

Two TSTC Alumni Recognized For Outstanding Service as TSTC Employees - Maria Aguirre

Maria Aguirre, from Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, is the statewide senior executive director of Communication and Creative Services. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 
Two TSTC Alumni Recognized For Outstanding Service as TSTC Employees - Elizabeth Reyes
Elizabeth Reyes, from Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, is a graphic designer. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award.