Category Archives: Sweetwater

Trejo enrolls in TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology to expand mechanical knowledge

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Amarillo’s Adrian Trejo wants to work on more than just automobiles.

The Texas State Technical College Diesel Equipment Technology student always liked to work on cars and knew he could turn it into a career. He is now pursuing a certificate in the TSTC program to expand his knowledge.

“I knew I wanted to be a mechanic since I was a kid. My mom was my inspiration because she would always work on cars,” he said.

After obtaining his mechanic certification, Trejo went to work. He said he knew his education would continue.

“I knew that was not going to be enough for me. I knew I wanted to do more,” he said. “I wanted to work on the big highway trucks and construction equipment.”

When he began looking for a school, his father offered a suggestion. Trejo’s father worked in Sweetwater and knew about the TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology program.

“My dad told me that a lot of employers like to hire TSTC graduates,” Trejo said. “I found out that TSTC graduates are very hirable, and people look for them. TSTC graduates are more appealing to employers.”

Having alumni in the field is something instructor Shannon Weir takes pride in each day. Some graduates of the program are employed by established companies like Caterpillar, Freightliner, and Peterbilt.

“Our students will be able to get work when they graduate,” he said.

Another aspect that Trejo said drew him to TSTC was the Career Services department, which helps students prepare for job interviews.

“That is awesome to know people are here to help. This includes building a resume, something I do not think about a lot,” he said.

Once Trejo enrolled, he quickly learned that the instructors were preparing him for work.

“Having veteran instructors is one of the best things about this program,” he said. “Anytime you can learn from people who spent a great amount of time in the field, it is going to be a great learning experience. They have been able to teach us the ins and outs and what we are doing right and wrong.”

Trejo said everything is taught with a straightforward approach.

“We know that we have to keep up with our assignments,” he said. “If you want to learn a technical trade, TSTC is the right place to be. You will get a great education and will be prepared for the career you choose.”

In addition to Sweetwater, the Diesel Equipment Technology program is offered at the Fort Bend County, Marshall, North Texas, and Waco campuses.

To learn more about the programs offered at TSTC, visit

TSTC Automotive Technology student learning more than he expected

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Joseph Fredericks, of Ballinger, admits that he is learning more than he expected in Texas State Technical College’s Automotive Technology program.

Fredericks, a second-semester student, is already setting his sights on furthering his education at TSTC. He is currently studying for a basic automotive certificate and plans to earn an automotive technician certificate.

“After I earn my automotive technician certification, my ultimate goal is to work for an engine building company,” Fredericks said. “Until I am able to do that, I want to find a good place to work that pays well. I know I am going to have to work my way up the ladder.”

Fredericks said his mechanical experience was somewhat limited before he enrolled at TSTC.

“I spent more than two years working in a shop before I enrolled in school,” he said. “I wanted to learn more.”

He has been learning more by working with his fellow students in the shop.

“I like how things are set up here, and we are able to work with other people,” Fredericks said. “We are able to help each other, and I really like to help people out.”

Instructor Gerod Strother sees that trait daily in Fredericks.

“He is willing to help anyone in the class. He takes a lot of pride in his work,” he said.

Fredericks said Strother teaches students in a way that will help them in professional shops.

“We are covering everything that is important to know when we are in the shop. That has been helpful for all of us,” he said. “The hands-on approach is the best way to teach a program like this. Shop time is the best time for me.”

Fredericks said TSTC recruiters drew him to the program.

“The recruiters came to our high school in San Angelo and told us about the program. I knew I needed to look into this as a career,” he said.

When he is not in class, Fredericks said he likes to show his family what he has learned.

“My dad likes it when I come home and do some work on his truck, especially since it is free,” he said. “We also have a tractor that is always breaking down, and I am able to fix it with the little bit of experience I have been able to learn so far.”

However, tractors and cars are not all he wants to work on when he graduates.

“I hope to build the engines for drag racing,” he said. “I have always enjoyed watching drag racing and would like to build engines for those cars.”

For more information, visit

TSTC Wind Energy Technology student sees benefits in renewable energy

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – James Chung knows the benefits of renewable energy.

He began learning of the benefits while living in Korea, and today he is working toward an associate degree in Wind Energy Technology at Texas State Technical College.

Chung, who was born in Boston, wanted to enter the cybersecurity field but admitted it was not for him.

“I knew I would make a lot of money, but somehow it was not fun,” he said. “I learned that was not the specific field I wanted to do. So I searched several job categories. Wind turbine technicians just came up, and it was something I was interested in.”

Chung knew renewable energy is not popular in Korea, but he knew it had potential to grow.

“Some people realize that one wind turbine can generate power for a number of homes,” he said. “I want to be an energy innovator. Wind is just the beginning for me. I hope to spread out to solar and other areas.”

His road to TSTC began with an internet search.

“I researched and learned Texas State Technical College has a great program. I knew this would be a good opportunity for me,” Chung said.

It took Chung time to convince his family that TSTC would be a good place to continue his education.

“They were glad that I had a goal and are supportive of my decision,” he said.

With his family’s support, Chung was ready to begin his studies. He is looking forward to the day when he will climb the turbine tower.

“I am a Christian, and I am looking forward to the day we climb. It will give me the chance to see all of the scenery God has created,” he said. “When I went rock climbing, I admired the scenery. I am looking forward to doing that again.”

Until he is able to climb, Chung talks to other students who have had that experience.

“Our resident assistant is in his second year, and he gives us a lot of tips,” he said. “He shows me examples of what I can expect to learn.”

Chung also knows he can turn to his instructors for help if he needs it. He even attends exercise classes that are not on his schedule to make sure he stays in shape.

“The instructors at TSTC are the best,” he said. “They know we have a lot of questions about the process and are always letting us know what is happening.”

Instructor Billie Jones saw Chung’s ability early.

He is attentive in class and always strives to do his best,” she said. “He takes advantage of any extra materials offered to allow himself to get ahead.

For more information, visit

TSTC Automotive Technology students cherish time in shop with instructors

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Automotive Technology program provides students with something they cannot find in textbooks: first-hand knowledge.

Students Tanner Tankersley and Brady Kennemur said instructors Mike Myers and Gerod Strother bring their knowledge to the lab sessions in a way that helps them prepare for the workforce.

“The best aspect of this program is the hands-on approach taught by Mike and Gerod,” Kennemur said. “They show us how things work and how things are made.”

Tankersley said the instructors are preparing students for a career.

“They are teaching us everything we need to know in order to be ready for our profession,” he said. “You are taught a lot more by people who have experience.”

Automotive work was not the first career choice for Kennemur.

“I wanted to be a computer engineer. That is something I had been learning since I was 15,” he said. “But then I found out there is nothing better than fixing a car. And most cars have computers in them.”

Kennemur toured the TSTC campus while attending Big Spring High School, but the automotive department was closed that day.

“I had a feeling about the program and decided to tour it,” he said. “I came back and enrolled in the program later that day.”

Tankersley, of Rotan, said he always enjoyed working on cars, and taking classes at TSTC will help him in the future.

“I enjoy being around everyone and working together,” he said. “I hope to continue learning things to prepare me for work.”

Both students return home and work on vehicles and with families and friends.

“I can show them some of the certain things I learned in class,” Tankersley said.

Kennemur said people interested in an automotive career should consider TSTC first.

“There is not a friendlier environment than what is here at TSTC,” he said. “If you are planning to go into mechanics, the more hands-on work you get, the better. We get the best hands-on work from the best instructors. They want us to succeed.”

For more information on TSTC, visit

TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology student working toward career

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Andres Garza, of Ballinger, knows the key to finding a good-paying job is working on his education.

Garza began his second semester in Texas State Technical College’s Diesel Equipment Technology program with a goal of graduating and getting a job. He knows it will take time to earn his degree, but he is enjoying his time in the lab.

“I learned a lot about how the truck works,” Garza said of his first semester in the program. “I am looking forward to what will come this semester.”

During the first week of the spring semester, Garza and other students were working on a diesel transmission system.

“Right now, it is a bit challenging learning about the transmission,” he said. “I know that by doing the work during the lab sessions I will be able to master working on the engine.”

One of the reasons Garza enjoys the lab sessions is that it is easier for him to pick up what is being taught. Garza said he suffers from dyslexia and struggles with the online portion of the class. He said the instructors have helped him navigate the course.

“I like the hands-on work we do. It is fast-paced and easier for me to pick up,” he said. “Once I learn something, it sticks in my head and I can do it.”

Garza said attending TSTC was always a goal for him. Before enrolling, he wanted to work toward a commercial driver’s license, which would take two years to complete.

“I decided if it was going to take me two years to get my CDL, I might as well go to school and learn even more,” he said. “I have not had one regret making that decision.”

The love for diesel trucks came naturally for Garza. Some members of his family have driven trucks and have mechanic backgrounds.

“Over time, I started to enjoy working on vehicles. I told myself I should work on the bigger trucks,” he said. “I knew I would be able to make more money that way.”

Instructor Lane White said students can expect well-paying jobs after graduation.

“Once the pandemic is under control, more companies are going to be hiring people,” he said. “We are here to help our students get ready for work. Because no matter what the economy looks like, trucks are going to be rolling on the roads.”  

For more information on TSTC, visit

Veterans work toward second career at TSTC

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Texas State Technical College has a goal of helping military veterans transition into the workforce.

Two such veterans are completing their final semester in TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program this semester and are ready to get into the field.

U.S. Navy veteran Curtis Kelley, of Austin, worked as an electrician while serving our country and is working toward an associate degree. He found TSTC’s program while searching online for colleges with wind energy programs.

“I was looking at different trade schools and came across TSTC, and it hit me to look at it even more,” he said. “I have really enjoyed the program, and I am really excited to be back in the lab.”

Kelley said veterans should look into the programs at TSTC.

“TSTC is a great school if veterans are looking to follow a similar path they had in the service,” he said. “If it is not something you may not know about, TSTC has programs worth looking at.”

While Kelley has not put out job feelers at this time, he knows the instructors are the best contacts to have.

“They know this industry and will help us when the time comes to find a job,” he said.

U.S. Air Force veteran Lawrence Bowman said he always had an interest in how wind turbines work. He also found TSTC through an internet search.

“I picked TSTC because of the hands-on approach it offered,” he said. “I knew there would be a lot of online work, but it was the work in the labs that grabbed my attention.”

Like Kelley, Bowman, who is originally from Pennsylvania, said he would recommend TSTC to fellow veterans.

“TSTC is a fast-track school and will get you back in the field,” he said. “I know some veterans do not want to spend four years in school, so this is perfect.”

Bowman also said many veterans with mechanical backgrounds would benefit from TSTC’s programs.

“People who work in this field will find a program that fits their style,” he said.

Bowman said he does not have a preference of where he finds a job after earning his associate degree.

“Being in the Air Force, I am used to moving around. I could end up overseas, but we have to see what happens,” he said.

For more information on how TSTC can help veterans, visit

With Nursing degree, TSTC grad fulfills dream

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Shannon Powell is now working in a field she fell in love with at the age of 19.

Powell, who received an associate degree in Nursing at Texas State Technical College in 2020, passed the National Council Licensure Examination earlier this year. Today, she is a registered nurse in the medical-surgical department at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital in Sweetwater.

Her interest in health care started in that department, even though the medical field was not her first career choice.

“I had a job at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital as a ward clerk. I really wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I watched the nurses working with the patients, and that lit something inside of me.”

Powell decided to enroll in TSTC’s Nursing program and graduated from the Vocational Nursing program. During her time at TSTC, she said the hospital’s staff was always supportive.

“I received a scholarship from the hospital. Rolling Plains really supported me,” she said. “Anytime I needed to take off for school, they would let me. The staff wanted me to succeed.”

Powell’s dream of becoming a registered nurse was put on hold while her family took precedence.

“I wanted to focus on my husband Britt’s career and our children,” she said. “Once the kids were older, Britt pushed me to focus on me. He told me I should go back to school. I told him, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Powell knew her first choice would be TSTC because of her experiences while studying to become an LVN. She knew things would be different, especially when COVID-19 forced more of her courses online.

“I knew there would be a lot less of the in-person classes. I had to adapt to that,” she said. “The instructors told us from the beginning that this was not going to be easy. They gave us all of the tools in order for us to succeed.”

Nursing instructor Lisa Van Cleave said Powell was an excellent student and will be a nurse people can depend on.

She demonstrates the highest level of professionalism, compassion and care with everyone,” she said. “Shannon seeks to deliver excellent care and promote the nursing profession.”

With a degree in hand and officially being a registered nurse, Powell, a lifelong resident of Sweetwater, is glad to be working in her hometown where her medical career began.

“It is just amazing that I was able to go to school and work in my hometown,” she said.

Van Cleave said the Sweetwater community should be proud of Powell’s accomplishments.

“(Her) patients and peers are very fortunate to have her as a nurse and a teammate,” she said.

For more information on TSTC, visit

TSTC Nursing graduate sets sights on RN degree

(BRECKENRIDGE, Texas) – Jesse Mendez is not taking any time off.

After graduating from Texas State Technical College’s Vocational Nursing program this fall, Mendez will begin studying for his Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing (ADN) at the Sweetwater campus next semester.

“My goal is to work in a metro area,” he said of the reason to obtain his nursing degree.

Mendez has always wanted to help others and has a passion for studying human physiology. His sister inspired him to go into the nursing profession.

“The beauty is I have always liked to help people,” he said. “I have always tried to be a Christian, and the best thing about being a Christian is you want to serve others.”

TSTC Nursing instructor Marchelle Taylor said Mendez remained focused during class.

His dedication and focus has set a perfect example for classmates and future students to follow,” she said. “I look forward to seeing his accomplishments in the nursing field as he moves forward to the ADN program and beyond. He sets his standards high and will be a great addition to the nursing field.

In nursing, Mendez said his Christian attitude will pay off on a daily basis.

“I know I will have to put others above myself. That is what we have to do to help others,” he said. “I know I have a long way to go because I have only scratched the surface of helping others.”

It took Mendez some time to get started on his nursing path, but he is not looking back.

“I had a few hiccups in my life. I did not like the job I was at and decided to pursue nursing,” he said. “I knew I needed to have a job that was meaningful to me.”

He was led to TSTC because he lived near the Abilene campus and saw it on a daily basis. He also knew the nursing program was only an hour away in Breckenridge.

“One of the guys who took classes at TSTC told me about the program. He said I should give it a shot,” Mendez said. “I took his advice and have not regretted that decision.”

He has been able to experience different areas of hospitals for clinical sessions.

“Working clinicals in the ICU was my favorite part,” he said. “To see doctors and nurses working to save people was inspirational.”

Mendez said he has also seen a change in himself over the past year.

“One of the highlights for me is to see where I was as a person in January to now,” he said. “I have seen how much I have grown not only as a student, but as a person.”

For more information on TSTC, visit

Spicer motivated to complete TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Richard Spicer did not have to look far to find his motivation.

“I wanted to provide a better life for my daughter,” said Spicer, who just received an Associate of Applied Science degree from Texas State Technical College in Diesel Equipment Technology.

Spicer said his daughter was by his side when he was completing class assignments on his computer, as well as during the recent fall semester virtual graduation ceremony.

“I think she was trying to learn what I was having to learn right next to me,” he said. “She was my whole inspiration for going to school and earning a degree.”

Spicer said his wife also helped him during school.

“She always kept me going anytime I was down,” he said.

Spicer has already begun his career as a mechanic for Crane Service in Sweetwater. Crane Service provides crane and other equipment for the wind industry in West Texas.

It is common for TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology graduates to find jobs in West Texas either in the wind sector or oil field, according to instructor Shannon Weir.

“People trust our graduates,” Weir said.

Spicer has been using the knowledge he gained at TSTC in his hometown, something he wanted to do for his family.

“I am glad I found a job in my hometown,” he said. “I wanted to be able to work in Sweetwater so my family could be close.”

Spicer previously had worked for Love’s Travel Stop as a mechanic and wanted to expand his knowledge of engines.

“I always liked working on things,” he said. “Working on mechanical things at Love’s was a good way to start my career.”

Spicer was drawn to TSTC because of its hands-on approach.

“That gives you more a feeling of what you are doing,” he said. “It actually helped me out a lot. Attending TSTC was the best experience I have had in my life. TSTC is definitely a great school and with great instructors. They helped me reach my goal of graduating and providing my daughter with a better life.”

He knows his daughter has seen him doing his best, which has had a positive effect on her.

“She loves going to school,” he said. “The message I wanted to give her is that it is good to go to school and reach your goals.”

For more information on TSTC, visit

TSTC student reaches goal of completing Nursing program

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Gabrianna Pena had her goal in sight, only it took longer than she expected to reach it.

The 2014 graduate of Winter High School is a candidate for graduation from Texas State Technical College’s Nursing program. She expects to receive a certificate in vocational nursing this month.

“After I graduated high school, I did not go straight to college,” she said. “I had to work in order to pay for my classes.”

After starting a nursing program, Pena hit another roadblock.

“I got discouraged when I failed. I knew that at some point I would go back to school,” she said. “I didn’t want to be able to tell myself that I did not succeed.”

In 2019, a friend offered Pena some advice and an application packet for TSTC’s nursing program. That was two days prior to the registration deadline. Pena scrambled to complete the paperwork and was accepted into the program.

“I was iffy if I really wanted to go back to school. Having to choose between going to school and working to pay the bills was a hard decision,” she said. “I got the acceptance letter and started classes.”

Pena said attending TSTC allowed her to continue to work at a nursing home. That helped pay the bills, and her family helped by watching her daughter while she was in school.

“Going to TSTC really worked well with my schedule,” she said.

Pena’s goal was to work in a field where she could help others.

“My mom worked as a CNA (certified nursing assistant) for a long time,” she said. “I always was interested in what she was doing. I wanted to help others.”

In 2012, Pena’s grandfather needed medical attention, and Pena and her mother helped watch him and take him to doctor’s appointments.

“Having to take my grandfather to the doctor each week, I was able to see the nurses working with him,” she said. “That gave me the motivation to help people. My grandfather was my inspiration for going into the health care field.”

Pena has also seen the effects of COVID-19 while working in the nursing home.

“All the residents see on a daily basis is you. There is no visitation,” she said. “I like working there because you may not feel that what you are doing is important, but you are making a big difference to the residents.”

Pena said she is proud of her journey in becoming a licensed vocational nurse, but it may not end there.

“I do have plans to someday go back and study to become a registered nurse,” she said. “It takes a lot for people to go through bad situations, but you eventually bounce back. I want to show people they do not need to give up on their dreams.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas leads the country in the number of LVNs employed, with more than 70,000. Of that total, more than 1,600 are employed in the West Texas region.

For more information on TSTC, visit