Category Archives: Waco

TSTC alumni passionate about workplace safety

(WACO, Texas) – Shawn Avelar, of West, and John Sprague, of Clifton, have in common the year 2008 at Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus. That was the year Avelar began teaching at the campus and the year Sprague graduated.

Avelar did not get an opportunity to teach Sprague in what is now the Occupational Safety Compliance Technology program. But as members of TSTC’s Occupational Safety Compliance Technology Advisory Committee, the two are advocates for the importance of workplace safety and want to motivate others to pursue the field.

“Shawn Avelar has a God-given ability to lead by example,” said Martin Knudsen, TSTC’s statewide chair of the Occupational Safety Compliance Technology department. “He has risen to the top of the safety industry through hard work and determination, and he has never once complained about how difficult climbing the corporate ladder has been.” 

“John Sprague has held top management positions from day one after the training he received from the Occupational Safety Compliance Technology program,” Knudsen said. “He is never shy about his opinions on how to improve the program, which is always well received.”

Avelar taught for three years at TSTC and is now a corporate safety manager for the Washington-based NAES Corp. Avelar works remotely from his home in West and oversees 17 plants throughout Texas and other parts of the nation. 

Avelar oversees the safety officers at the plants he works with and ensures that they perform required checks and balances. He also helps carry out the company’s safety programs and works with policy and procedural changes.

“We follow legislation for changes,” he said. “My job is a lot of preparing and writing reports.”

Avelar said the safety field is not going away, which means that there will be good job opportunities in the future, especially for women and minorities. He is supportive of internships that enable students to experience and understand what the safety field entails.

“We have an aging profession,” he said. “We need good, strong-minded safety professionals to push this profession further and to really grow it.”

Avelar grew up in El Paso. When he was considering where he wanted to go to college and was visiting a local community college, he saw a TSTC flyer. At the time, he thought about studying drafting and design. He and his father were scheduled to go to Killeen but also planned a visit to Waco to visit TSTC. 

Avelar went on to earn a certificate in what is now TSTC’s Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology program and an associate degree in what is now TSTC’s Occupational Safety Compliance Technology program.

“I can definitely say I would not be where I am today if it was not for TSTC,” he said.

Sprague is a safety supervisor at Alvin-based Mesa Line Services. He lives in Clifton and travels for work. The company specializes in distribution and transmission services and other facets of the power line industry.

“I enjoy this industry,” he said. “It is a very difficult industry to work in. You have the weather and other conditions. It takes a special breed to get into this industry.”

Sprague is a certified crane inspector and an OSHA-authorized outreach trainer. He is also a certified utility safety professional, which required him to take a difficult exam.

“That was the hardest test I have taken in my entire life,” Sprague said. “I passed it the first time. I can tell you the only reason I passed was because Martin Knudsen was so adamant about us knowing the (OSHA’s General Industry) 1910 regulations that he buried our noses in it. I am so thankful for that.”

Sprague said the keys to being successful in the safety industry are credibility, maturity and respect. He said there is not room for complacency in the field.

“If you want to make money doing safety, you are going to have to get a job that travels,” Sprague said. “If you are going to get a plant job, you are going to get stuck at $50,000-$60,000 a year. Ever since I got my degree, I have made more than $100,000 a year.”

Sprague spent seven years in the U.S. Marine Corps. Before enrolling at TSTC, he was a trucking foreman for a Waco company.

“I saw the need for people to do things safety-oriented, and when the company got bought out, I didn’t have any kind of degree,” Sprague said. “The Veterans Administration paid for school.”

Sprague has an associate degree in what is now TSTC’s Occupational Safety Compliance Technology.

“The beauty of TSTC is they are a technical college and they make you bury yourself in the things you need to know,” he said. “I am a strong advocate for TSTC.”

TSTC’s Environmental Technology – Compliance program and Occupational Safety Compliance Technology program will merge this fall. The programs’ two associate degrees will be combined to create the new Associate of Applied Science degree in Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance Technology.

Registration continues for the summer and fall semesters at Texas State Technical College. For more information, go to 

TSTC instructor eager to teach students the realm of information technology

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Computer Networking and Systems Administration is the process of ensuring that the world is connected at any given moment. Texas State Technical College equips students in the program with the skills needed to conquer the ever-growing field.

Department chair Emanuel Palacios has been sharing his vast knowledge of the field with TSTC students for nine years after having spent time working in both information technology and as a systems specialist.

What inspired you to get into education?

Sharing what I know with others has always inspired me. A colleague who I think very highly of said I would do great as an instructor. I didn’t pay much mind to it at the time because I consider myself an introvert. The idea of speaking in front of others made me nervous. But I’ve always had a zeal for helping others, and technology is a passion of mine, so it came much easier than I had imagined when teaching others about technology.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I wholeheartedly enjoy having the opportunity to be a servant and a resource to students and colleagues. Seeing someone accomplish a goal is very gratifying.

Why is Computer Networking and Systems Administration important?

As time progresses, so will technology. It is easy to see the importance of the field, which will continue growing. The demand for skilled technicians to maintain those systems and networks will be par for the course.

Do you have any favorite TSTC memories?

No memory compares to the excitement of success and accomplishment that is witnessed as each student you taught walks the stage at their commencement ceremony.

To learn more about Computer Networking and Systems Administration, visit



Computer Programming at TSTC prepares students for booming career

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Coding, JavaScript, and Python may seem like foreign languages to some, but for Texas State Technical College students enrolled in Computer Programming, they are as easy as the alphabet.

The program, which is taught online, prepares students to become problem solvers behind the scenes while not forgetting other vital components of career training, like project management and communication skills.

TSTC statewide department chair Shannon Ferguson and instructor Shelby Coffman discussed the program’s benefits and what students can expect to learn.

“Students enrolled in Computer Programming technology will work with industry-standard development tools and resources,” Coffman said. “Throughout their coursework, students use these tools to complete projects that simulate real-world scenarios. We want our students to achieve mastery by demonstrating their proficiency on the topics we cover.”

Ferguson added that the impact of a computer programmer is a lot closer than most people would assume.

“Behind every software, website, game and mobile application is a computer programmer who makes things happen,” he said. “Programmers are needed in every facet of business and industry. We live in a world where we have access to products, information, and resources to help us in our daily lives at the click of a mouse. Computer programmers make this possible.”

Ferguson and Coffman both agree that the quality curriculum available at TSTC makes a great impact on the learning outcomes of students.

“Technology, as well as industry demand, is continually changing and evolving,” Ferguson said. “Like most programs at TSTC, the Computer Programming department regularly reevaluates and adjusts our curriculum to meet the needs of industry partners and demand.”

Coffman said that the department also makes sure to stay competitive in the industry.

“We work closely with our departmental advisory board to ensure we teach the skills and topics that industry is looking for in prospective employees,” he said. “Our goal is to produce graduates that are ready for the workforce.”

According to the Texas Workforce Commission and, the field is expected to grow by at least 10 percent over the next 10 years.

Both instructors have advice for students who are curious about the program.

“If you are interested in technology, how software works and can approach problems as solvable challenges, then you can be successful as a computer programmer.”

To learn more about the programs available at TSTC, visit

Photo caption: Computer Programming at TSTC is offered 100 percent online. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)

TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology program ready to fill area employment needs

(RED OAK, Texas) – The coronavirus pandemic has not slowed down diesel equipment work in North Texas.

“The main thing that comes to mind about our program is that the students who have graduated and were working during this pandemic never lost any wages,” said Matthew Dobbs, lead instructor in Texas State Technical College’s Diesel Equipment Technology program at the North Texas campus in Red Oak. “They continued to work and provide for their families due to the need for continued trucking deliveries. The last thing we needed was for the trucks to not be able to deliver the supplies that we needed to survive.”

More than 500 jobs were advertised for bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists from September 2020 to February 2021 in the 16-county area that Workforce Solutions of North Central Texas serves. Employers with the most job openings during that time were Love’s Travel Shops, Ryder System Inc., TravelCenters of America and Rusk Truck Centers.

There were more than 7,600 bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists in the third quarter of 2020 in Workforce Solutions’ service area. The mean hourly wage for the workers was $27.04 in 2019, according to the most recent data from the agency.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that there will be a need for more than 290,000 bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists by 2029.

Timco Logistics has called Waxahachie home for about two decades and specializes in brokerage work, hauling, logistics and trucking. The company is working with the city of Waxahachie and Ellis County in a building expansion project expected to break ground later this year. The expansion means the company will need at least 15 new diesel technicians to handle an increased workload.

“They are having to outsource some of their maintenance work because they cannot get it all done with the facility they have right now,” said John Dagg, an area certified public account working as a consultant with Timco Logistics. “It is stretched and not big enough. That costs money when they outsource truck maintenance.”

Brandon Luiszer, manager of talent acquisition for Love’s Travel Shops, said it is a challenge to find qualified job candidates, especially in less populated areas. Love’s has several locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and throughout Texas. The company is having a National Hiring Day event on March 31 with the goal of hiring more than 2,000 workers nationwide.

The company has an apprenticeship program that enables participants to earn competitive wages and work toward becoming diesel mechanics. At the end of the program, participants receive a tool kit that is valued at $3,500 and is theirs to keep after one year of employment with the company.

“There needs to be more visibility into career opportunities within the skilled labor workforce and the rewards that come with these opportunities,” Luiszer said. “There should also be more focus on providing options to high school students besides joining the military or (pursuing) a traditional four-year degree.”

Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC’s North Texas campus, said there is a pipeline of students who took automotive classes at Red Oak High School and are enrolling at TSTC.

“Diesel Equipment Technology is a campus staple,” he said. “Many of our students come to our campus to enroll specifically in the program, and that is well known for establishing solid baseline skills in this field of study. In addition, we have three very solid instructors in this program, all of whom are TSTC graduates who have returned to teach.”

TSTC in North Texas offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and two certificates in Diesel Equipment Technology – Heavy Truck Specialization.

Registration for the summer and fall semesters continues at TSTC. For more information, go to 

TSTC Precision Machining Technology program training students to fill area jobs

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Precision Machining Technology program teaches students the skills they need to walk into any company that hires precision machinists and begin work.

“If it’s man-made, we (machinists) made some or all of it in the process of its production,” said Darren Block, statewide lead instructor for TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program.

Texas had more than 28,500 machinists in May 2019 making an annual mean wage of $46,420, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program teaches students the skills to operate grinders, metal lathes and milling machines. Students work on both manual and computer numerical controlled machines and design parts using SolidWorks.

“Precision Machining Technology is a small but growing problem at TSTC in North Texas,” said Marcus Balch, the campus provost. “Many industry partners desire these graduates, and like most of the campuses, we just do not have enough graduates to go around.”

North Texas has a big need for people with precision machining skills.

There were more than 1,300 job postings for the machining field in Workforce Solutions of North Central Texas’ 16-county service area from September 2020 to February 2021. These machining-type jobs include CNC machine tool operators for metals and plastics, industrial engineering technicians, and structural metal fabricators and fitters. 

Kyle Kinateder, president and chief executive officer of Midlothian Economic Development Corp., said the need for machinists is being seen more from business prospects inquiring about the city than those that are already established. He said companies eager to come to the city are looking at the basic pool of available workers.

“That is really why TSTC is so important,” Kinateder said. “They can come in and provide these skills within our communities, and the companies can come in with a minimal amount of investment and customize their skills to their equipment.”

He said the skills that machinists have are applicable to running many kinds of equipment.

“We continue to see manufacturing relocate from overseas to the United States,” Kinateder said. “The only way those companies are doing this to be successful is by relying on technology and relying on automation, and at the heart of all those are machine operators.”

The federal labor statistics agency has estimated there will be a need for more than 404,000 machinists by 2029. This is attributed to the development of autoloaders, CNC machines and high-speed machines.

Balch said the campus is partnering with a local school district to provide dual enrollment classes to train more students to work in the field.

TSTC in North Texas offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Machining Technology and a machining certificate.

Registration continues for the summer and fall semesters at TSTC. For more information, go to

TSTC Welding Technology instructors eager to share knowledge with students

(HUTTO, Texas) – The majority of instructors in Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology program at the East Williamson County campus happen to be women.

Kristin Burke, Samara Flener and Charli Wright bring decades of professional experience to teach their students to be the best welders they can be.

“Three of the five welding instructors at the East Williamson County campus are women, and they are setting a great example for our students and future generations,” said Lissa Adams, provost of TSTC’s East Williamson County campus. “The more women that choose technical careers, the more encouraged other women and young girls will be to explore these options. Welding is currently one of the top in-demand jobs in our region, making it an attractive and viable career choice.”

Burke, of Georgetown, has been an instructor in TSTC’s Welding Technology program for three years. She was inspired to pursue teaching by the welding instructors she had at Austin Community College.

“I figured it would be pretty awesome to be able to not only share my passion for welding with my students, but also be able to train the next generation of workers,” she said. “I get to weld all day, and impart knowledge on my students and see that light bulb come on for them.”

Burke became interested in welding by way of her sister-in-law, Angela Cockrum, who once taught at TSTC’s Waco campus.

“They were offering a free welding program through the Fluor Corp.,” Burke said. “I signed up because I was interested, and as soon as I struck an arc for the first time, I knew welding was what I was meant to do.”

Burke said she looked to Cockrum as a role model because she always looked for the next step to better herself and her career.

“Every move I have made in the welding industry in the last 14 years is a step up from the previous one,” Burke said. “The sky’s the limit, and I strive to make every move better than the last to continue to grow as a person and in my career.”

Before teaching at TSTC, Burke worked in the welding industry for 14 years, doing power plant work, heavy equipment repair, high-end fabrication, structural welding and metallurgical testing.

“I’m a certified welding inspector, so I have done welding inspection on structural components for commercial buildings and in a production shop setting,” she said.

Burke said her advice for women curious about welding is for them to know they will have to work harder than everyone else to prove themselves.

“Don’t let that discourage you, though, because you definitely belong here,” she said. “If this is your passion, stick with it because being part of a select few that get to do what they love on a daily basis is amazing.”

Flener, of Austin, has taught for eight years in TSTC’s Welding Technology program.

“I had considered the possibility of teaching at some point and was fortunate enough to be offered an opportunity to come teach at TSTC by a former work colleague that was a TSTC instructor,” she said. “I had the opportunity to pass on my welding skills and experience to the next generation of welders, just as it was passed on to me, by my former teachers.”

Flener first began welding while working at a salmon cannery in summer 1990 in Alaska.

“I immediately fell in love with welding and returned to Austin to attend Austin Community College,” she said.

Flener counts Warren Donworth, her former welding instructor at ACC, as a role model.

“I learned from him what it means to pursue excellence, be of service to others, and that 90 percent of success is having a positive outlook,” she said.

Flener went on to work for 15 years as a pipe and structural welder and also did welding fabrication. She also worked for 10 years as an American Welding Society certified welding inspector, and she still holds the certification.

“I love welding, and I am fortunate that I had the opportunity to pursue welding as a career and am grateful to the women who paved the way for me and the other women in the industry,” Flener said. “I am also grateful to the men who acknowledged my ability and work ethic and who also helped me gain the skills I needed to excel in the trade.”

Wright, who has taught for two years at TSTC after spending four decades in the welding industry, credited Burke and Flener in making move the welding lab 

“Their knowledge of this trade, passion for teaching and willingness and patience with me as a new instructor definitely helped me immensely in transitioning into a teaching role,” Wright said. 

During the month of March, TSTC wants to honor women in history and right on our campuses who work to make strides in STEM fields every day.

“My hope is that more women will begin to see themselves in skilled trades and technical careers and will boldly enhance the opportunity that they provide, including increased earning potential, job choice and career stability,” Adams said. 

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC’s Office of Information Technology guided by the work of women

(WACO, Texas) – It is a woman’s world in Texas State Technical College’s Office of Information Technology. Sixteen women work in a range of roles statewide to keep the college functioning, from serving as applications administrators to help-desk technicians.

Gladia Escobar and April Falkner have roughly three decades of combined service to TSTC. Both are based in Waco, but their work touches all of TSTC’s 10 campuses.

“One of the things I learned about Gladia and April is that they aren’t afraid,” said Shelli Scherwitz, TSTC’s executive vice president of Information Technology Support Operations. “These two are never afraid of identifying the hard issues and work with the team to resolve them.”

Escobar is a technical consultant who works to approve software and hardware for the college. She has been at TSTC for eight years, having started on the help desk giving advice to employees regarding technical issues. She keeps up to date on technology’s evolution by watching YouTube videos and reading on Reddit.

“I really love what I do,” Escobar said.

Some of her favorite pieces of education technology are the clear-touch interactive displays that are starting to be used in some of TSTC’s labs. 

At home, Escobar enjoys her security system.

“I hard-wired a DVR (digital video recorder) with four cameras mounted,” Escobar said. “I like looking and seeing what is going on.”

Escobar became interested in technology when her family got their first home computer when she was young. She spent time downloading music and burning compact discs.

Escobar took dual enrollment classes in drafting and design at TSTC while she was a high school student. She went on to earn three technology-based associate degrees at TSTC’s Waco campus.

Going to TSTC runs in Escobar’s family. Her two younger sisters have graduated from TSTC, and her son is planning his return to studies at TSTC’s Waco campus. 

Falkner is TSTC’s lead Colleague programmer and analyst. Colleague is the software system that runs the business side of TSTC, from billing to student registration. She also develops custom programs written specifically for TSTC that Colleague does not provide.

“I like solving problems, and also I like the fact that what I am doing is helping someone else do their job better or make it easy for them,” Falkner said.

A major project for her now is the college’s conversion in early 2022 to Workday, a cloud-based software.

“Right now, we are in the middle of implementing the software for the human resources and finance offices, and once that is implemented, then we will start on the students’ system in Colleague and move it to Workday,” Falkner said.

Falkner has worked in TSTC’s Office of Information Technology since 2000 and has been in her current role since 2015.

“You have to be organized and detail-oriented,” Falkner said. “You have to see it through in working on a program and getting the bugs out. You have got to have perseverance. You have to be organized.”

Falkner grew up in Odessa and cites her mother as being an inspiration for her pursuing the technology field.

“I kind of thought I would like to get into computers and started doing that,” Falkner said. “When I graduated from high school, I decided to pursue that at Odessa College. I started taking programming classes. One of my instructors recommended me for the job there at the college in programming. I started to work there actually before I got my degree.”

During the month of March, TSTC is honoring women in history and on its campuses who work to make strides in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields every day.

“Women bring special skills to the IT field,” Scherwitz said. “Men and women see things differently, and this diversity brings new solutions to the table when resolving problems. The technical field is growing each day, and it needs women to help it grow. It is a tremendous opportunity for those who are willing to grasp it.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

Recent winter weather provides TSTC plumbing students with real-life lessons

(WACO, Texas) – February’s winter weather experienced in Texas is giving Texas State Technical College’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology students plenty to think about.

“There’s a lot of money in plumbing right now,” said Austin native Jack Guerrero, who is scheduled to graduate in December with a Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology certificate. “A lot of things broke that I know how to fix now.”

Guerrero not only had a health issue to deal with during the winter weather, but he and his family had to heat water in a fireplace as they endured a loss of electricity and heat in their home for several  days.

Guerrero, who wants to work in Austin after graduation, recommends that people keep their faucets dripping to reduce the chances of freezing water pipes.

Jimmy Maldonado, of Gatesville, is also scheduled to graduate with a Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology certificate in December. He said people should think about covering their windows and doors to cut down on cold air seeping in. He also recommends using outside faucet covers to provide wind and freeze protection.

Chris Porter, an instructor in TSTC’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology program, said the winter weather should show students how to come up with their own solutions for problems. He said students in the program are learning the proper way to do work, which can benefit them as they advance in their careers.

Porter said he wants the students to pay attention to weather reports and know when to stock their work vans with supplies once they are working after graduation. He said the students need to be prepared for pipe breaks and not always having access to the right equipment. 

Porter said the winter weather did have a positive aspect: It brought attention to the plumbing profession once people realized how valuable the workers are. He said consumers and business owners should be aware of who they hire to do repair work and that social media is not the place to seek plumbing recommendations. Porter said people can go to the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners’ website to search for plumbers’ professional information.

Porter said insurance companies will need invoices from plumbers for completed work.

“If you want good quality work, you will pay a plumber for good quality work,” he said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a need for more than 511,000 plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters by 2029. The agency attributes this to maintaining existing plumbing systems, along with the construction of new residences and buildings.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

TSTC opened design doors for Rockwell

(WACO, Texas) – An associate degree from Texas State Technical College has opened many doors for Mark Rockwell.

Rockwell graduated in 2007 with a degree in Advertising Design, now Visual Communication Technology, and since then has overseen designs for a professional athlete, a celebrity chef, and a company featured on “Shark Tank.”

“I was a kid looking for guidance when I was thinking about my future. Now I am living in Boston, where they take their higher education seriously,” Rockwell said. “I have a two-year degree, and TSTC set me up for all the success I have had over the years.”

Rockwell’s journey did not start immediately after high school. He admitted he was not sure what he wanted to do with his life. But a trip to TSTC’s Waco campus with a friend led him to instructor Michael Lewis.

“I peeked into the multimedia building and saw a few classes. I really liked what they were doing, so I decided to enroll,” he said.

Rockwell started with very little design experience but enjoyed Lewis’ teaching style, and they quickly connected.

“Mr. Lewis could identify students who were serious about the class. He would spend more time and attention on them to help foster their development,” Rockwell said. “I was able to form a bond with Mr. Lewis that I still appreciate today.”

Lewis saw potential in Rockwell, calling him one of his most promising graduates.

“I always expected him to achieve a lot of success in our industry because of his passion for design and his high level of skill sets developed while in our program,” Lewis said. “He demonstrated strong leadership skills through the graphic design club student organization. He displayed innovative and creative design skills in his coursework and participation in state and national competitions.”

Rockwell has designed work for former New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman and Food Network host Guy Fieri.

“People tell me that I graduated from TSTC and designed stuff for Guy Fieri. They say that is really cool,” Rockwell said. “For me, designing things for them was a huge source of pride.”

After working with Edelman’s company, Rockwell was approached by Fieri’s manager.

“I was asked to work with his manager and Guy’s ideas to try to flesh them out. I was able to add what I thought was best for his brand as well,” Rockwell said.

Today Rockwell is helping with efforts to promote the Rocketbook Smart Notebook. The product was featured in a 2017 episode of “Shark Tank” but did not receive an offer.

“I am working to help Rocketbook get to the next step of their growth,” Rockwell said. “I also manage a few other aspects of the company’s creative work.”

Lewis is not surprised at Rockwell’s success.

“It comes as no surprise to me that he would excel professionally,” Lewis said. “Along with that, Mr. Rockwell has been a very hardworking, cooperative and caring person who is able to work with anyone.”

Rockwell said his time at TSTC provided him with a career that has led to work he did not dream of while in high school.

“TSTC prepared me for each project I have worked on. The skills I developed at TSTC gave me the drive to get my clients,” he said.

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TSTC Culinary Arts provides dual enrollment opportunity for Hutto High School students

(HUTTO, Texas) – Hutto High School students with an interest in culinary arts have a quicker pathway to earning an associate degree at Texas State Technical College’s East Williamson County campus through dual enrollment classes.

“Dual enrollment students have the benefit of seeing the culinary world before having to pay,” said Brian Bohannon, a Culinary Arts teaching lab assistant at TSTC. “It has been great having the dual enrollment students from Hutto.”

Dual enrollment enables high school students to take college-level courses as they work toward high school diplomas and earn college semester-credit hours.

Hutto High School’s Culinary Arts program averages 60 students per year. Freshmen and sophomores choose two prerequisite classes before moving on in the Culinary Arts program. 

There are two levels of classes within the program that high school juniors and seniors can take. When students become juniors, they can also decide whether to enroll in dual enrollment classes with TSTC’s Culinary Arts program. 

“I have a lot of successful students that have gone through my program and have graduated from TSTC’s program,” Said Farraje, a Culinary Arts instructor at Hutto High School, said. “It is something to be proud of.”

Alexis Gamboa is in his second semester in the Culinary Arts program at TSTC. The Hutto High School graduate took dual enrollment classes.

“I didn’t know that the classes had dual enrollment at the start, but when I found out how useful it was, I was elated,” he said. “The classes really helped me be prepared for TSTC and make it so much easier to enroll.”

Gamboa said his TSTC classes have been a good experience.

“The program that we have used for online learning has been very easy to work with and makes classes much easier,” Gamboa said. “I have enjoyed the program so much that I am excited for the next semester and to see what new things I will learn.”

Farraje said he sees a need for trained culinary workers to fill positions as Austin and its suburbs grow. He said having a degree provides graduates with the expertise, knowledge and skills to progress within the culinary industry’s ranks.

“When you get a formal education, it reinforces whatever you are doing,” Farraje said.

TSTC in East Williamson County also has dual enrollment partnerships with Dillard McCollum High School in San Antonio for Automotive Technology, Jubilee Academy in San Antonio for Business Management Technology, Jubilee Academy in Wells Branch for Medical Office Specialist, Liberty Hill High School for Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology and Digital Media Design, and Texas Can Academy in San Antonio for Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology.

According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, more than 151,000 Texas high school students took dual enrollment classes in fall 2017.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to