Category Archives: Waco

TSTC Candidate for Graduation Looks to the Sky for His Career

(WACO, Texas) – Richard Rensing is ready for takeoff.

“It is eye-opening, especially now that I’m close to graduating,” said Rensing, a student at Texas State Technical College from McKinney. “I’m realizing my dreams are coming true. It’s cool to see how things have come together.”

Rensing is a candidate for graduation for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Aircraft Pilot Training Technology at TSTC. He joins more than 500 candidates for graduation receiving associate degrees and certificates at TSTC’s Spring 2019 Commencement at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7, at the Waco Convention Center.

“I have made a lot of really close friends,” Rensing said. “It is rare to find others your age that are interested in the same thing you are. I have enjoyed the friendship and the teaching environment and the knowledge I have gained.”

Jessica Ogden, a flight instructor in TSTC’s Aircraft Pilot Training Technology program, said she admired Rensing’s humble attitude in the cockpit.

“He knows pilots, and that can help a lot,” she said. “He is coachable and can take criticism.”

Rensing’s early exposure to aviation was through his father’s employer who had a company jet and also through traveling with his family.

“I wondered about the science of it,” Rensing said.

When Rensing was young, he would ride his bicycle to watch airplanes land and take off in McKinney. At 13, he flew in the passenger seat of an airplane with a private pilot for the first time, and three years later he started pilot lessons.

While in high school, Rensing took classes in the McKinney Independent School District’s McKinney Aviation Academy. More than 200 students from McKinney’s three high schools attend, taking the first two years of aviation classes on their home campuses and the last two years of courses at McKinney National Airport. Rensing graduated in 2017 from McKinney Boyd High School.

Todd Curtis, an aviation teacher at the McKinney Aviation Academy, quickly noticed Rensing’s ambition.

“He would hang out with pilots at air shows,” Curtis said. “He would talk to anybody. Everything started to click. When he started flying, it was interesting seeing the transition from freshman to when he earned his pilot’s certificate before his high school graduation.”

Curtis said the academy is a great way to expose students to the aviation industry before entering college.

“I think it is a great way to inspire,” he said. “I don’t know that everybody understands how you get a job in aviation. It exposes not only the kids that are interested, but they talk to their friends. It builds chatter about a much-needed career field.”

After his graduation from TSTC, Rensing will start certified flight instructor instrument classes with American Flyers in Addison. Later this year, he will work at TSTC as a flight instructor and pursue an online Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Science: Professional Pilot at Texas A&M University – Central Texas.

“Whenever you are teaching the next generation of pilots, it’s cool to give them your knowledge,” Rensing said. “I get to instruct while flying, which is the best part.”

Rensing is in the Envoy Air Cadet Program, which he hopes will be his flight path to becoming a pilot for American Airlines.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Candidate for Graduation Looks to the Sky for His Career

TSTC Alumnae Hired by Cisco

(WACO, Texas) – Two Texas State Technical College alumnae have been hired by Cisco.

Among the company’s many accolades, Cisco has been named on the Fortune 100 Best Places to Work list for the 22nd year in a row.

Lori Wise and Ruusa Bolton are training to become technical consulting engineers at Cisco.

“IT (information technology) is very exciting. Everything is really happening at such a fast pace,” Bolton said. “Nothing stays new for a long time. There’s always something new happening; it’s an innovative field. What you are striving for is to remain relevant in an ever-changing industry.”

Before attending TSTC, Bolton served as an engineer in the U.S. military.

“People should not be afraid of technical fields,” Bolton said. “It’s probably one of the most learnable industries. No one expects you to know everything. As long as you have a problem-solving mindset, everything else can be taught.”

Bolton encourages more people, especially women, to pursue technical careers.

“Women should be courageous and not feel that they’re restricted, because we don’t see enough women in the field,” Bolton said. “Right now, the time is ripe with opportunity.”

Wise taught special education for 13 years. She discovered her love for technology after continually fixing computer issues at school.

“After I left teaching, I still wanted to make an impact on the world, and I can do that through technology,” Wise said. “I never thought after teaching for 13 years that I would be at a Fortune 500 company. So don’t limit yourself. Don’t look at a job description and go, ‘I don’t have all that,’ and not apply.”

Both women are excited to work for Cisco and love the working environment the company provides.

“I knew that Cisco was where I wanted to be, and nothing was getting in the way of that,” Wise said. “I love how you can innovate. I can play around with problems, make my own patch or make my own invention.”

“Cisco has a very inclusive policy when it comes to women empowerment and diversity,” Bolton said. “You can really see more credible and visible representation.”

John Washington, a TSTC Computer Networking and Systems Administration associate professor, said he was happy for the success Bolton and Wise have had. He also said the alumnae are great examples for current students.

“There are certain people that are going to be successful in life just because of their attitude,” Washington said. “The fact that they’ve gotten this far proves it. Hopefully it will encourage other students to know that they can be successful by seeing our graduates out there doing well.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Alumnae Hired by Cisco

TSTC Alumnus Receives Aviation Patent

(WACO, Texas) – Not everyone can claim to have received a U.S. patent.

But Cecil C. Rhodes Jr., who received his degree from Texas State Technical Institute (now Texas State Technical College), can.

Last year, he and his team at Texas A&M University were awarded U.S. Patent 9,957,035 for Un-Manned Aerial Vehicle Having Adjustable Wing Module, Tail, and Landing Gear, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Rhodes, now a flight mechanics specialist for the Texas A&M aerospace engineering department, helped create the Pegasus unmanned air system.

“I was able to use my experience as an airplane mechanic and working with airplanes to actually put the airplane together,” Rhodes said.

After studying aviation maintenance and receiving his airframe and powerplant licenses from TSTI, Rhodes moved to College Station to attend Texas A&M University but found that his credits would not transfer.

“I do think it’s kind of neat that I came here to take aerospace engineering and then ended up here working in the department as a staff member,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes started to attend Blinn College but decided to seek full-time employment instead. He began working for the Texas Highway Department (now Texas Department of Transportation) as a mechanic, but he also worked part time on airplanes.

“I always had that desire to work full time on airplanes, and the opportunity came up in ‘99 to work for a company (Avlink) that had a fleet of jets,” Rhodes said. “So that was really appealing to me.”

Rhodes worked for Avlink for one year until the company went out of business. He then worked for Z Jets for five years.

“One of my fellow aviation buddies told me that A&M was starting a flight research lab, and they had an airplane over there and they wanted someone to come look at it,”

Rhodes said. “So, as fate would have it, I came over and worked on the airplane a couple times.”

Eventually Rhodes went to work for William Saric at Texas A&M University’s aerospace engineering department. Although the flight lab closed in 2015, Rhodes stayed on.

“I’ve always hired my own technicians, and he is by far the very best,” Saric said. “He has a multitude of skills. But the main thing is that he enjoyed doing new things and learning new things.”

“I’m a support person with mechanic experience,” Rhodes said. “I’m the technical support, the bridge between what they want to do and how they get it done.”

Rhodes also enjoys working with students.

“I’ve got the best of both worlds. I love working with my hands, and I love working with these students,” Rhodes said. “I’m able to help them go out and be the best that they can be.”

One of those former students at Texas A&M University, Andrew Carpenter, learned about the maintenance and regulation aspects of the aviation industry from Rhodes.

“He’s always had a great attitude, regardless of what he’s doing,” Carpenter said. “He helped out whenever he could, and he was a good mentor.”

Rhodes loves his job and is excited to continue working for Texas A&M University.

“For right now, I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing. I get a huge satisfaction from the people I work with,” Rhodes said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Alumnus Receives Aviation Patent


TSTC HVAC Program Sees Need to Fill Jobs

(WACO, Texas) – The last few weeks have been busy for the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program at Texas State Technical College.

David Brannen, the program’s lead instructor, said several companies have visited the campus to recruit HVAC students for jobs. Brannen is happy about this because the program has a very high job placement rate for graduates.

“Everybody picks up this time of year because the cooling season is upon us,” said Brannen.

Brannen also said as senior-level technicians retire, younger workers are needed to replace them.

“This industry pays as good or as better than any industry out there,” Brannen said.

Jobs for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 15 percent nationally through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas has more than 25,200 workers earning an annual mean wage of more than $46,000.

Some area businesses said it is difficult finding the right employees to fill HVAC jobs.

Andrew Smith, a recruiter and salesman at Construction Force Inc. in China Spring, said prospective employees need basic hand tools and a willingness to work.

“We can train new people, but it helps to have some of the background,” Smith said.

More than 100 students were enrolled this spring in TSTC’s HVAC Technology program in Waco, which offers an associate degree as well as a certificate.

Brannen said students entering the program should  have a fascination with how things work. He said students coming into the program are a mix, from those who know people in the HVAC industry to some who have never touched a wrench.

“I have guys that want to go where the money is and some that want to go home to work,” Brannen said. “Even the small towns need HVAC technicians.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC HVAC Program Sees Need to Fill Jobs

TSTC Candidate for Graduation Striving to Keep Goodwill Industries’ Employees Safe

(WACO) – Roxann Buzbee is already transitioning from student to educator in her new job as a human resources training developer.

Buzbee is a candidate for graduation for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Environmental Technology Compliance and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Occupational Safety Compliance Technology.

She and more than 500 other students will receive certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Spring 2019 Commencement at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7, at the Waco Convention Center.

“Anybody is going to have obstacles,” Buzbee said. “Anybody is going to have something going on in their lives, but don’t make that an excuse for failure. If I can overcome my obstacles and make sure I set my goals, anyone can.”

She began work a month ago at Heart of Texas Goodwill Industries Inc. in Central Texas. One of her first tasks has been developing a new training curriculum focusing on workplace safety.

“It is a lot, but the ladies I work with give me awesome feedback,” Buzbee said.

She said TSTC instructors Martin Knudsen and Lester Bowers were some of her biggest supporters and gave her motivation to pursue her studies. Bowers was Buzbee’s instructor in what she said was one of her toughest classes; Environmental Toxicology.

“She worked hard,” Bowers said. “She persevered. She was always in class and contributed to class discussions. It was a learning process for her.”

Buzbee grew up in Gholson and graduated from West High School.

“I was a hair stylist for 15 years and a manager of most of the hair salons I worked at,” said Buzbee. “I got my instructor license and was told after I received it that I needed a bachelor’s degree in education. I thought, if I am going back for the third time, I might as well make it worth it.”

She said her advice for other students is to keep an open mind.

“Keep focused on your goals,” Buzbee said. “There is going to be a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of hard work and a lot of studying. Put your mind to it.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Candidate for Graduation Striving to Keep Goodwill Industries’ Employees Safe


From university to technical college, TSTC grad finds lifelong career

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Brian Bradley was once a Texas State University Bobcat, yet he never graduated. But now, at 29 years old, he can call himself a graduate of Texas State Technical College.

The Fulshear native graduated Thursday night as a Board of Regents honors graduate, with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and an associate degree in Cyber Security Technology.

He joined 38 other graduates of TSTC in Fort Bend County who earned either a certificate or an associate degree during the college’s commencement ceremony at the Stafford Centre.

“I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” said Bradley. “The fact that I’m graduating hasn’t sunk in yet, but knowing that I now have a trade, a skill, is an achievement to me.”

Bradley started his college career at Texas State University as a kinesiology major because he enjoyed playing sports and exercising, but he soon realized it wasn’t the best career choice for him.Brian Bradley

Noticing the limited career opportunities that kinesiology would have given him and with a newborn baby, he turned to working.

“At this point, I no longer had a career passion or something that I could say I would be happy doing for the rest of my life,” he said. “So with a new family member came added responsibility, and it was time for me to support my family.”

Bradley worked in the restaurant and bar industries and as a sales representative up until he enrolled at TSTC in 2017.

“I spent too much time working jobs that I never really enjoyed, but I needed to make a decent living,” said Bradley. “Enough was enough. There were too many holidays missed with my family, long shifts and crazy hours. It was time to find a career.”

It was through a friend who built and repaired computers that Bradley first realized his passion for technology and computers.

“We’d get together, and he would show me his work.  even helped in his computer build,” he said. “This is when I realized I could make computers and technology a career.”

He did not take the decision of going back to college lightly. It was going to be a large sacrifice and change for his family of five.

Upon enrolling at TSTC, the family sold their home and moved in with relatives, where they still reside.

“I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive family. They have been on this journey with me since day one,” said Bradley. “But the way we saw it is you must give ground to gain ground. And this was really to give my family a better life.”

Bradley and his family made it through the long nights and financial constraints knowing it would all be worth it in the end.

And worth it it was. Halfway through Bradley’s program of study, he was offered an internship with Frontline Computer Services, whose owner was seeking a TSTC Cyber Security student.

“It all happened rather fast, but I owe this opportunity to my instructor, Alan Sulak,” he said. “Along with the real-world training I received at TSTC and the experience I have gained at Frontline, I feel like I’m prepared and ready to conquer the cyber security industry.”

At Frontline, Bradley has been able to work with small and medium businesses, providing network infrastructure monitoring, network security, hardware repair, and maintenance and technical support.

Frontline is also the place where Bradley will begin his career upon graduating. Ultimately Bradley hopes to work in penetration testing, which is hacking into networks to help companies repair vulnerabilities and protect identities.

“It feels great knowing the opportunities that lie ahead,” he said. “I now have a career, a passion, and I’m on the right path because of TSTC. And I want to tell anyone thinking of pursuing a two-year degree to just do it. Having a skill and trade improves employability and opens doors of opportunity.”

Bradley celebrated his achievement with his wife, children, his father, who is Rosenberg Police Department Sergeant Michael Bradley, and other family members.

More than 1,000 TSTC students will earn a certificate or degree statewide during Spring 2019, joining an alumni network of 100,000 strong.

TSTC Candidate for Graduation Turns Interest Into Job

(RED OAK) – Miguel Gutierrez of Burleson is fascinated by Volvos and engine overhauling.

The Texas State Technical College student has combined his interests through hands-on training and getting a job in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Gutierrez is a candidate for graduation with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology-Heavy Truck Specialization. He and more than 30 other students will receive certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College in North Texas’ Spring 2019 Commencement at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 3, at the Waxahachie Civic Center.

Gutierrez, a graduate of Cleburne High School, started working after high school. He was a regional commercial truck driver for 10 years before having a desire to move into the service side of the industry.

“I am glad I am here (at TSTC) right now. It’s made a world of difference,” he said.

He took TSTC classes full time so he could concentrate on his studies.

“For me, the academics was the biggest challenge for me,” Gutierrez said. “I find more satisfaction getting into the problem-solving side.”

Elisha McKinney, an instructor in TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program, said the Basic Brake Systems class was Gutierrez’s favorite.

“Miguel was always easy to work with,” she said. “He kept an open mind and easily applied his previous experience to diesel. He makes me proud that he can easily teach another student exactly what I had taught him.”

Gutierrez said he was confident during his job search and knew he would find something that would match his interests.

“There are a lot of people looking for diesel mechanics,” Gutierrez said. “The market is wide-open for employment.”

The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area has more than 7,000 bus and truck technicians and diesel engine specialists, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The annual mean wage is more than $53,000, according to the agency.

Gutierrez has been hired at Prevost in Fort Worth and will start work in May.

“I will be going to work servicing tour buses and motor coaches,” he said. “Prevost is a subsidiary of the Volvo Group. I will be starting as a level II technician. I’m thankful for the training and education I received from the diesel program at TSTC.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Candidate for Graduation Turns Interest Into Job

TSTC in Waco Earns Gold Medals at State SkillsUSA Postsecondary Conference

(WACO) – Cicilia Bunting has felt this feeling before.

Bunting, a Culinary Arts student at Texas State Technical College, won first place for the second consecutive year in Commercial Baking at the SkillsUSA Texas Postsecondary State Leadership and Skills Conference held in mid-April in Waco.

“I know what to expect and what the judges are looking for,” the La Porte resident said.

Texas State Technical College in Waco won 30 gold medals, 19 silver medals and 13 bronze medals at the state competition. Eighteen two-year institutions took part in this year’s state conference.

Marc Garcia of Waco participated for the first time in SkillsUSA and placed first in Automotive Refinishing. For the state contest he matched colors, blended a panel and demonstrated other skills.

“It feels great,” Garcia said. “I will have instructors helping me out. I want to improve on my scores.”

Faustino Laessig of Lometa placed first in Collision Repair Technology. He demonstrated his knowledge in analyzing vehicles, metal repair and welding.

“I was stunned when I won,” Laessig said. “It feels great knowing I can get something done. I will put in more lab hours. It will help me become a better technician.”

TSTC’s gold medalists are eligible to compete at this year’s SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in late June in Louisville, Kentucky.

Other TSTC in Waco gold medalists are:

3-D Visualization and Animation: Dylan Borg and Vicky Lackey

Additive Manufacturing: Brandon Lund and Cody White

Advertising Design: Joe Quintero

Cabinetmaking: Timothy Watkins

Carpentry: Cody Scheffe

Collision Damage Appraisal and Total Loss Evaluation: Jannifer Stimmel

Computer Programming: Dante Hart

Electrical Construction Wiring: Cordell Argumaniz

Graphic Communications: Eddie King

Information Technology Services: Erik Syck

Internet of Things: Rickie Hartfield

Internetworking: Alberto Moreno

Pin Design – State: Ana Alvarez

Plumbing: Rourke Scott

TeamWorks: Jacob Dawson, Antonio Hernandez, Leonardo Mata and Andres Zapata

T-Shirt Design – State: Christina Pace

Web Design: Sara Steward and Garrett Bentley

Welding: Brenden Paradis

Welding Fabrication: Brady Carpenter, Dalton Gabel and Cash Latta

For more information on SkillsUSA, go to

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC in Waco Earns Gold Medals at State SkillsUSA Postsecondary Conference


TSTC student meets challenges head-on in quest for college degree

(FORT BEND COUNTY) – Getting to college and becoming a college graduate was no easy feat for Adam Alvarado, especially without a high school diploma.

But that is all in the past, because the 48-year-old will earn his associate degree in Cyber Security Technology at 6 p.m. on Thursday during TSTC’s Commencement Ceremony at the Stafford Centre.

“I always knew I wanted to become a college graduate. I never thought it would be possible,” said the Rosenberg native. “And it’s still hard for me to believe this is actually happening.”

Alvarado said he grew up in the ‘80s in a predominately white school, where he dealt with a lot of racial issues.

He said this, and the necessity to work, put a damper on his motivation to learn and led him to make poor decisions about his education.

“I’ve had to own my choices. They’ve weighed heavy,” said Alvarado. “I’ve always felt like I’m ‘less than,’ but TSTC has changed that for me. It has built a confidence in me that is hard to explain, but now I feel like I can achieve anything.”Adam Alvarado

Alvarado worked for Frito-Lay for 15 years as a lead and night supervisor, also handling technical issues at the company’s help desk.

“I enjoyed what I did and learned a lot, sparking my interest in technology,” he said. “But not having a college degree hindered any opportunity I had of growing with the company.”

Alvarado said he prayed a lot about making a career change because before he could enroll at TSTC, he needed his General Education Development (GED) diploma.

Determined to succeed, Alvarado soon earned his GED diploma and was able to enroll at TSTC as a Cyber Security Technology student.

“It all happened so fast,” said Alvarado. “I credit a lot of my success to Melanie Pruett, my TSTC enrollment coach, because she helped me kick-start everything.”

He added how intimidated he was by TSTC because he had no high school diploma, but his time at the college has shown him how the seemingly impossible can be possible.

“TSTC was able to turn a man who felt beat down into a career man,” he said. “I can now pursue my passion of computers and technology, thanks to the education and training I received at TSTC.”

Of course, the journey didn’t come without challenges.

“I was no expert on computers coming in,” he said. “My instructors, though, helped me understand everything and always pushed me to keep going and cross that finish line. And because of them, I even became a lab assistant helping other students. It’s funny how things work themselves out.”

The father of four said balancing a family life as a full-time student was demanding, but his religious faith kept him going, and being able to study while his children did their homework kept him motivated.

“My family are my biggest supporters. They supported me throughout my journey,” he said. “I want to be a good example for my kids. They do what they see, so I wanted them seeing me working hard and overcoming obstacles. If I can do it, so can they.”

Alvarado’s experience, however, not only inspired his children, but also his 18 brothers and sisters.

“There are several who always wanted to get their GEDs and even maybe go to college, so I feel like my experience at TSTC has helped me pave the way,” said Alvarado. “TSTC is changing the dynamics of my family and opening doors of opportunity.”

Alvarado is exploring his career options and hopes to work for a surrounding school district’s information technology or networking department. Ultimately he hopes to open a business.

“At the beginning of all of this, I was so nervous,” said Alvarado. “But my life has changed so much, for better, because of TSTC. And I encourage others who think it’s impossible to embrace the challenge and give TSTC a place in their lives.”


TSTC Electrical Lineworker instructor earns prestigious award

(FORT BEND COUNTY) – Troy Eads is only two years in as the Electrical Lineworker Technology instructor at Texas State Technical College, but he is already making a lasting impression on his students and colleagues, earning him a 2019 Chancellor’s Excellence Award.

“When I received notification about the award, I had no idea what was going on or what this award meant,” said Eads. “It was definitely a surprise and after learning more about its meaning I am honored to have been thought about so highly by those I work with.”

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award has celebrated employees who exhibit TSTC’s core values of Excellence, Accountability, Service and Integrity for nearly the past two decades.

To receive this award, TSTC employees are nominated by their peers, provosts and vice chancellors, and are chosen for their distinguished service, commitment and dedication to the college, communities and their state for this award.Troy Eads

“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.”

Eads was selected among 160 faculty and staff members who were nominated and is one of 35 recipients statewide.

Eads arrived at TSTC with extensive experience as a lineworker and employee for American Electric Power (AEP), where he worked for nearly two decades.

At AEP, Eads learned the trade with eight years of AEP school to hone his skills.

“I was 22-years-old when I got to AEP. I had other odd jobs, but this was my career,” said Eads. “This is what I love, where I grew up, but the demands of the job got to me when I hit my forties.”

It was during this period when Eads began looking for something not as tedious, but still doing what he loved.

That’s when he found TSTC and the available instructor position.

“As soon as I set foot on TSTC grounds and I met my supervisor Eric Carithers, it felt like home,” said Eads. “This is where I was supposed to be.”

Despite other interviews Eads had at the time, his heart was set on TSTC.

Eads said he is proud to have been a part of helping the Electrical Lineworker Program grow in the Fort Bend County and Houston area.

“A lot of work and hands went into making this program what it is,” he said. “It was brand new when I came on board. We’re watching it grow and, even better, watching our students grow and gain careers.”

Eads said it’s hard to believe how far he has come, since asking a meter reader one day about his job and taking a leap of faith by applying to AEP with no experience.

“I don’t recommend students get into the career the way I did,” he said. “What took me eight years of training, takes only two years here at TSTC. Plus you get a technical degree, which in the long run leads to more opportunities.”

Eads will be honored in May at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) awards dinner and celebration in Austin where he and the other Chancellor’s Award recipients will receive their medallions and honors.