Category Archives: Abilene

Company upgrade leads Rowlette to TSTC program

(ABILENE, Texas) – Watching a multimillion dollar upgrade at his current workplace, Andrew Rowlette wanted to learn more about electrical systems.

The U.S. Air Force veteran works for Cargill Animal Nutrition in Abilene. He also started his fourth semester in Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Power and Controls program this fall.

“I was working for nine or 10 months, and the company decided to do a $2 million upgrade to the electrical system,” Rowlette said. “I was working with the contractor on some of the projects, and what he was doing sparked my interest.”

Rowlette did not have a background in electrical work, but a former co-worker and current TSTC instructor led him to the college.

TSTC Industrial Systems instructor Demetri Jones told him about the program and encouraged him to broaden his  knowledge.

“You really don’t realize how much electrical systems work in our daily lives,” Rowlette said. “I was really interested in that aspect of the program.”

Rowlette, who was a B-1 Bomber crew chief in the Air Force, said serving in the military helped him pay for college.

“I was able to get some free money and go to school to learn a new trade,” he said. “I took a year or so off before starting at TSTC.”

Rowlette said his employers are pleased that he is attending TSTC.

“It is helping me here, especially with some of the employees,” he said. “Some of them may not have the tech skills to solve a problem quickly. I can ask them if something is not working to look at another possible solution.”

Rowlette said he will continue to share what he learns at TSTC with his fellow employees.

“The best way to help someone is to pass on the knowledge,” he said.

TSTC offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Power and Controls at the Abilene, Fort Bend County, North Texas and Waco campuses.

For more information about TSTC, visit

Teenage TSTC graduate overcomes obstacles to earn EMS certification

(ABILENE Texas) – Dayna Williams admits that she has faced obstacles during her life.

After leaving high school as a sophomore, Williams completed her high school requirements through the Texas Online Preparatory School. Without a diploma in hand, Williams explained her situation and was able to enroll in Texas State Technical College’s Emergency Medical Services program.

This summer, at age 18, she completed her EMS certification and was among the candidates for graduation. When the summer class of 2020 was announced last month, Williams also learned that she had passed the national certification exam.

“I started the (TSTC) program when I was 17 years old. I had all the odds stacked against me,” she said. “One of the main things I learned coming out of the program is that for every odd stacked against you, there are people behind you, supporting your every move.”

Williams said she always wanted to work in the medical field and “fell in love with EMS” after taking courses at TSTC in Abilene.

She said obtaining her certification from TSTC and national certification on the same day was an “ecstatic” feeling.

“It was amazing to receive that news the same day the graduates were honored,” she said.

Among the obstacles that Williams said she faced was the drug and alcohol use by fellow teenagers. While she did not give in to the pressure of using, that temptation motivated her to complete high school early.

“Once I finished high school, I did not have a diploma or transcript in my hand,” Williams said. “I took a leap of faith and asked to enroll at TSTC. I was going into this blind. I thought to myself, ‘Do the thing you’re most terrified to do, and embrace your fears.’”

Williams faced those fears and emerged victorious.

“TSTC prepared me for a career,” she said. “The clinical experience was great. I am more of a hands-on person, and it was 10 times better going through clinical sessions than having to read about it.”

As for her high school friends, Williams said they were “amazed” at her accomplishments in such a short period of time.

“All of my friends stood behind me through college. Some of them said they wish they could have done what I did,” she said. “I told them to look into TSTC because they will prepare you for a career.”

For more information about TSTC, visit

It’s all in the family for TSTC graduate

(ABILENE, Texas) – Melinda Cannon had the support of her family while attending Texas State Technical College.

The mother of two TSTC graduates decided to go to school knowing she would need a support system. She is now a candidate for graduation with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Health Information Technology.

Cannon, who works at Comanche County Medical Center, is now preparing to take the Registered Health Information Technician exam.

“My kids gave me a lot of help, especially on the technical side,” Cannon said. “I did not know much about building websites and using computers. I had to tell them, ‘Mom does not have a clue.’ It was also great to have a husband who would allow them to help.”

Cannon’s daughter, Rachel, received an associate degree from TSTC in Health Information Technology and is working in the same hospital as her mother.

“She is a medical coder at the same hospital. We work in the same building, but there is a wall between us,” Cannon said.

Cannon has always been interested in the medical field. After raising her family, she decided to pursue college.

“I knew that I was not that knowledgeable with computers, so I decided to go to school,” she said. “I had a background in the medical field, but the knowledge of today’s terminology was something I would need to learn.”

She chose TSTC because her daughter and son, Caleb, both earned degrees at the college. Her son graduated from the Drafting and Design program.

“I knew it would be hard going back to school at the age of 50, but I was able to get things together,” she said. “Overall, TSTC prepared me to do well in the health care field. It introduced me to other systems that I was not used to using.”

Cannon said the online classes allowed her to work at her own pace.

“I was able to learn more about medical terminology and what to expect in the field,” she said.

The family will celebrate her accomplishment during the virtual summer commencement celebration available on social media.

“We are planning to gather around the computer and watch the celebration,” she said. “It will be a great family moment.”

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC student helps people at hometown treatment facility

(ABILENE, Texas) – Abilene’s Ashli Arispe wants to give people a second chance.

That is why she attended Texas State Technical College’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program in Abilene. She is on track to graduate later this month with a certificate of completion from TSTC.

“I think everyone deserves a second chance,” she said. “My nature has always been to help people. I volunteered in high school and have always liked helping others.”

Arispe works for ABODE Treatment in Abilene. She said the facility’s acronym, short for Adult Basic Opportunity Development and Environment, depicts how the treatment center works to help people.

Arispe is pleased to be working in her hometown for a facility that also has outpatient offices in Dallas-Fort Worth.

“I know the chemical dependency counseling options are limited here. I knew when I registered for the program there would be a good chance I would have to leave,” she said. “But this is the best of both worlds — I can help others and be in my hometown.”

Arispe, a graduate of Abilene High School, who also holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, said the company provides “endless opportunities.”

“I hope to stay with the company for a long time and work my way up. I want to help more people, and help them plant their seeds and watch them sprout,” she said.

Arispe is already utilizing what she has learned in class.

“The hands-on approach was great. Everything that I learned in class, I am using now and will use throughout my career,” she said.

Arispe said her instructors taught practical things students can use on a daily basis.

“The way things were presented in class, it was presented in a way that you would know how to use it in the field,” she said.

Arispe was drawn to TSTC because of the relationships with counselors in the region.

“The partnerships are great. Companies are looking for people with work experience,” she said.

Arispe’s next goal is to complete her required 4,000 hours of counseling to become state certified to practice.

The Chemical Dependency Counseling program is offered at the Abilene, Breckenridge and Brownwood campuses. An Associate of Applied Science degree allows students to become a practicing licensed chemical dependency counselor intern.

Students who have a degree in the human services field, like Arispe, can take the certification program to secure a licensed chemical dependency counselor intern credential.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

Safety top priority at TSTC this fall

(ABILENE, Texas) – Safety will be the top priority at Texas State Technical College when the fall semester begins Aug. 31.

The four West Texas campuses, located in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater, will have a different look this year. Students who need to complete labs will be allowed on campus, but all other instruction will be delivered online.

“Our primary goal is the safety of our students, faculty and staff in this era of COVID-19,” said Lance Eastman, West Texas’ interim provost. “We have put in several safety measures to ensure that safety.”

Everyone must wear a facial covering while on campus, and social distancing guidelines will be enforced, Eastman said.

“I know it is hard sometimes to maintain social distance. But for the safety of everyone, we are going to practice it,” he said. “We not only want the students, faculty and staff to protect themselves, but everyone around them.”

Buildings will be marked with directional signage to show entrances and exits. Hand-sanitizing stations will also be available in each building.

Since March, TSTC has provided online lectures for students, and Eastman said it will continue in the fall. In May, students were allowed to return to campus to complete lab sessions.

Eastman said continuing to provide hands-on lab sessions is important to the college’s mission of placing people in the workforce.

“We will still do a lot of the hands-on lab sessions because it is important the students get that training,” he said.

Daniel Martin, TSTC’s director of student recruiting in West Texas, said students are excited about the new way of learning.

“The students are pleased with how the courses are being constructed. The online lectures, coupled with lab time, are perfect for them,” he said. “This is a better use of a student’s time. It is not a classroom-heavy situation for them.”

Martin said prospective students will also be able to tour campuses, but with limitations. Tours must be reserved and will be limited to three guests per tour.

“We are excited to get people back on our campuses to show students what we offer,” he said. “We had some tours during the summer, and everyone followed all of the protocols we had in place.”

In Sweetwater, safety is also the top priority for housing director Jose Navarrette. Since it is the only West Texas campus with student housing, additional safety measures are in place.

Navarrette said each student will have a private bedroom but share a bathroom. He said students will learn the proper way to sanitize the area to help prevent the spread of contagions.

“We will have room checks to make sure all the rules are being followed,” he said. “We had some students living on campus this summer, and everyone followed all the rules.”

Navarrette said students were assigned days to move in prior to Aug. 31. He said that was done to help limit the amount of people on campus.

“Safety is the key for us. We want students to know that we have things in place for their safety and the safety of everyone on campus,” he said.

Rick Nelson, supervisor of TSTC food services in Sweetwater, said meals will continue to be sold only to go. Students will enter the Student Center’s main entrance and leave through the cafeteria’s glass-door exit.

TSTC will also provide three new programs in West Texas this fall.

In Breckenridge, an Associate of Applied Science degree in Occupational Safety Compliance Technology will be offered. Students will learn the hazards of machines, safe work methods, first aid, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation procedures during the five semesters.

Two Occupational Skills Award programs are scheduled this fall. Basic Welding – Multiple Processes will be available in Abilene, while Basic Automotive will be taught in Sweetwater. Both courses will be 15 weeks and are part of TSTC’s Rapid Industry Skills and Employability (RISE) program that helps students learn skills quickly in order to start a career.

“It is always good to provide new programs at TSTC,” Eastman said. “We want to provide our students with the tools to prepare them for the workforce. The OSA programs will allow us to quickly educate students to get them to work. That will help better our economy.”

To schedule a campus tour, contact Chris Johnson, TSTC’s lead recruiter for West Texas, at

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC Welding Technology offers Occupational Skills Award certification in Abilene

(ABILENE, Texas) – Many construction companies are looking for entry-level welders.

To help fill that need, Texas State Technical College will offer an Occupational Skills Award certification program in Welding Technology this fall at the college’s Industrial Technology Center in Abilene. 

Three basic welding courses will be offered over 15 weeks, said instructor Anthony Lewis.

“There is always a need for welders in every region of Texas. Between 80 and 90 percent of those jobs are for entry-level positions,” he said.

The Occupational Skills Award is part of TSTC’s Rapid Industry Skills and Employability (RISE) program that helps students learn skills quickly in order to start a career.

“When students complete this OSA program, they will have no trouble finding a job,” Lewis said. “The skills we will teach are what employers are looking for in a welder.”

Lewis will spend five weeks covering three different areas of welding.

The first five weeks will be the Introduction to Welding Using Multiple Processes class. Lewis said students will learn basic welding techniques using several different processes, including Oxy-fuel welding and cutting, gas metal arc welding and gas tungsten arc welding.

“The first five weeks, we will cover just the basics of welding to get the students ready for the next class,” Lewis said.

The second course will be Introduction to Shielded Metal Arc Welding. Lewis said emphasis will be placed on power sources, electrode selection and different joint designs.

The final five weeks will be Intermediate Welding Using Multiple Processes. Lewis said this is a more advanced class, but it will prepare students for a job. Students will receive instruction on using layout tools and blueprint reading that will include demonstrations.

Students will not spend the entire time in the classroom. Lewis said they will put what they learn into use during lab sessions.

“It will be fast and furious, but the students will get enough knowledge and information that it will not overwhelm them,” he said.

While in the classroom, students will hear firsthand about Lewis’ knowledge of welding and working on a job site.

“I have a lot of knowledge to give them. I have done a lot of work and will bring that experience into the classroom,” he said.

TSTC is offering several Occupational Skills Awards programs this fall. With unemployment increasing in Texas, TSTC is partnering with business and industry through the RISE program to get Texans back to work. The short-term, skills-focused courses provide students with the ability to gain basic technical skills to start an entry-level career.

“From there, through hard work and determination, students can enhance their skills and earn promotions,” Lewis said.

For more information on the Occupational Skills Awards courses, visit

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC Computer Networking students to use virtual software program

(ABILENE, Texas) – A new program will allow Computer Networking and Systems Administration students at Texas State Technical College to work on equipment virtually.

TSTC will use the NetLab program for virtual lab sessions, instructor Adrian Medrano said.

“NetLab is very popular for remote training,” Medrano said. “The benefits are amazing.”

Students will use the program to work on a computer system online just like the real instruments. Medrano said students will operate instruments with knobs and buttons the same way they would an actual computer. Measurements will be displayed on the computer screen to help students during the lab session, he added.

“Having NetLab is huge. Companies like Cisco and Microsoft use this for training their employees,” Medrano said. “With the push to move everything online, we are looking forward to getting this content to our students.”

Medrano is no stranger to the program. He said TSTC instructors have used it for their own training sessions held throughout the state.

“I enjoy working with this program. It is easy to navigate,” he said. “I see nothing but smooth sailing for our students when they use NetLab.”

The program will allow Medrano and other instructors to achieve their goal of providing companies with a “well-rounded individual for an IT (information technology) department.”

“We are not going to focus on one certain area. By the time a student graduates, they will learn how to take apart and put back together a computer system,” Medrano said. “They will know how to put a computer on a company network, share files, and other aspects of computer networking.”

That knowledge is important in today’s business world, according to Medrano.

“Sharing information between computers in a business is the main aspect of the network,” he said.

Another area in which students will gain knowledge is security settings.

“We are going to teach students how to make a computer virus-free and to make sure no one hacks into the system,” Medrano said. “We are going to teach all of the security tactics they will need, as well as the difference between a virus, worm and Trojan software.”

Medrano said students will become knowledgeable about routers and switches.

“They will know the difference between a home router and routers used at small businesses,” he said. “Students are going to know exactly how the internet happens when they complete the program. They are going to know how they can send something from their home to around the world with just one click.”

Medrano said the online classes will benefit students.

“This will give students a lot of flexibility, and they can remain safe,” he said. “We are going to deliver our content via video, but it will still have a classroom feel.”

Medrano said instructors were recorded during classes last spring, and those videos will be used for classroom lessons during the upcoming school year.

“Students will be able to watch the video at their convenience and then practice what they learned with NetLab,” he said.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

Dental assistant course to be offered at TSTC’s Abilene campus

(ABILENE, Texas) – To help fill the need for dental assistants, Texas State Technical College will offer a special workforce training program this fall.

The nine-week course will be held in Abilene and include 100 hours of classroom instruction and 40 clinical hours. Classes are scheduled to begin Sept. 21.

“The purpose of the program is to familiarize students with all areas of administrative and clinical dental assisting, focusing on the responsibilities required to function as an assistant in a dental practice,” said Cindy Brunett, TSTC’s Workforce Training and Continuing Education project manager.

Nationwide, there is a need for health care-related services, including dental assistants.

“With a workforce of over 300,000 strong, dental assisting ranks as the fourth-fastest-growing occupation in the health care technician field,” Brunett said.

To be eligible for the program, students should have or be pursuing a high school diploma or GED. Brunett said students must also provide their own scrubs and pass a background check.

During the program, students will learn about dental office policies and guidelines, legal aspects of the practice, dental equipment and tooth structure.

One reason for offering the fast-track program was to attract military spouses in the Abilene area.

“When the students complete the course, they will be able to get their national certification,” Brunett said. “If they move from Dyess Air Force Base, they will be recognized as a dental assistant if they pass the certification.”

Upon course completion, students will be prepared to take the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) exam, Radiation Health and Safety exam and DANB Infection Control exam, she said.

Tuition costs include the textbook, Texas State Board of Dental Examiners exam fees and proctoring, a CPR certification course and the 40-hour clinical externship.

Brunett said with unemployment rates still near all-time highs, people are looking for a career opportunity.

“The need for these fast-track programs is especially high right now. This is the perfect time to roll out a program like this,” she said. “Many people may be looking at a career change, and this is a good first step.”

Plans are to hold classes in person this fall with all safety protocols in place to allow for social distancing. Brunett said that could change if required by state or local officials.

“We will have the capability to provide this program online,” she said. “Right now, the program is open on a first-come, first-served basis, and we are excited to provide this to our community.”

For more information on the course, contact Teresa Adames at or Brunett at

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC Electrical Power and Controls instructor’s goal is for students to join workforc

(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College Electrical Power and Controls instructor Kevin Staton has one goal for his students.

“We are training Texans to work in Texas,” he said. “When students graduate from our program, they can work in almost any state or foreign country. Anywhere there is control work, there is a job for our students.”

The demand for electrical power and controls technicians is always high, and TSTC offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree program at the Abilene, Fort Bend County, North Texas and Waco campuses.

In West Texas, Staton has seen the need for technicians at several utility companies, including Taylor Electric Cooperative, American Electric Power and Oncor. He said some students have found employment at warehouses in Texas, including for Amazon.

“West Texas, and especially Abilene, is growing. Things are getting bigger, and companies are looking to expand,” he said.

He said utility companies will need someone to work on transformers, and TSTC provides training for that.

“We offer more than just one area of study,” Staton said. “We teach a wide variety of programs that are in the electrical field.”

He said another area is substation operations, and students will also learn how that process works.

Students have access to labs that include industry-standard electrical distribution, transmission, equipment testing, automation, instrumentation motion-control tools, transformers and electrical motors.

Staton said the first thing students learn is the importance of safety.

“Safety is the key to being a good technician,” he said.

Staton said he not only teaches in the classroom and lab. If a student needs extra help after class, he is willing to help.

“When I was younger, someone always helped me. I want to make sure to do that now. I want to be able to give back and help the students,” he said. “I take pride in being flexible to help students.”

Staton tells prospective students that the program offers a guarantee.

“We are part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee program. That proves that we want to make things happen for our students,” he said.

The Money-Back Guarantee program refunds the tuition of participating graduates if they do not find a job in their career field within six months of graduation.

“In my two years at TSTC, we have had a high success rate in finding (welding) graduates a job. Only one did not find a job after six months, but it was because he chose another career path,” Staton said.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC student benefits from scholarship for military veterans

(ABILENE, Texas) – Area military veterans can take advantage of a scholarship opportunity to attend Texas State Technical College.

Since 2015, EMA Electromechanics has given TSTC a total of $225,000 for the Sweetwater Veterans’ Funds for College Education. The company, based in Sweetwater, is an international maker of equipment for the wind energy sector.

For Rafael Garcia, a U.S. Army veteran, the scholarship is helping his family by offsetting college costs.

“It has supplemented some of the money I would have used for school. Now I do not have to worry about paying for things around the house and college,” Garcia said. “It has helped me provide for my family while attending school.”

Garcia is studying Industrial Systems and plans to graduate this fall. In the Army, he was responsible for fueling aircraft, but he wanted to expand his knowledge. That is why he chose TSTC.

“I wanted to be more in-depth with how things worked. I wanted to learn more than just fueling an aircraft,” he said. “My goal is to be more efficient and improve myself.”

Garcia learned of the scholarship through Annette Collins, a Veteran Services program officer at TSTC.

“I hope other veterans take advantage of this opportunity,” Garcia said. “This is an extra incentive to better yourself after the military.”

The scholarship funds have helped veterans complete their technical education at TSTC’s West Texas campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater.

“The scholarship is incredibly valuable for our students. There are many who have expressed that without the scholarship, a college education would not have been possible for them,” said Pam Marler, TSTC’s Veteran Services coordinator. “The funds have helped with book purchases, supplies, tools, and in some cases living expenses to allow our students to focus on completing their education.”

EMA Electromechanics was founded in 1952 in Argentina. The company’s VDH Series Vacuum Circuit Breaker was first sold in the United States in 2003, and the company began its American operations in 2010 in Sweetwater.

For more information on EMA Electromechanics, go to

To learn more about TSTC’s Veteran Services program, visit

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to