Category Archives: Abilene

TSTC works to fill paramedic need in Texas

(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College is working to fill a need in Texas and the nation.

Ronnie Pitts, the statewide director of TSTC’s Emergency Medical Services program, said the need for paramedics is vital. TSTC will begin the next paramedic courses in Brownwood this fall.

“It has been difficult to fill the need for paramedics in Texas and nationwide,” Pitts said. “We just cannot turn them out fast enough.”

According to, the need for paramedics in Texas is expected to grow 11 percent by 2028.

To become a paramedic, a person must first be a certified emergency medical technician. The EMT certificate is a two-semester program at TSTC. The first semester covers the core EMT courses that allow students to sit for the National Registry certification exam. The second semester has online courses, including medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology.

For those who choose to continue, the four-semester paramedic program begins.

One of the paramedic program highlights is the final semester capstone, in which students are paired with a seasoned paramedic during an internship. When that is complete, students will be eligible to test for the National Registry paramedic certification.

Pitts said average annual salaries for paramedics vary across the state, from $30,660 in the Harlingen region to $31,750 in the Abilene region, according to Austin-Round Rock has the highest average salary at $47,750. The statewide average salary is $35,940.

Many TSTC graduates have praised the program and the quality of its instructors, who have worked in the field.

“You know you are going to pass and make it through,” said John Hendrix, a 2020 graduate of the paramedic program. “The instructors make sure you are prepared to pass the National Registry. That is one of the best things about the program. The instructors want you to succeed.”

TSTC offers the EMS program in Abilene, Brownwood, and Harlingen. Students can use the latest technology during lab sessions and also work online to complete assignments.

“I did not realize we would have so much one-on-one time and be able to work with each other,” said current paramedic student Erik Duenes. “I knew there would be studying, but to come here on Wednesdays and execute what we have learned is the best part of the week.”

Pitts said the program aims to prepare paramedics with skills, and behavior to succeed.

“Our graduates are successful and are helping people on a daily basis,” he said.

For more information on the program, visit

Trevino says TSTC made him confident entering workforce

(ABILENE, Texas) – Brandon Trevino has seen his time at Texas State Technical College pay off at work.

Trevino earned an associate degree in Industrial Systems in 2020 and has been using his knowledge on a daily basis at AbiMar Foods in Abilene.

“When I first walked into the plant, I noticed all of the different machines,” he said. “To me, everything was on a much bigger scale than it was at school. But I knew I would be able to learn how to use it.”

AbiMar Foods, which was founded in Abilene in 1992, started with two ovens. Today it exports products to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America. 

Trevino said he is proud to be part of a successful company.

“All of my training at TSTC has really paid off. I thought I would be going into the plant scared that I did not know everything,” Trevino said. “I hit the floor running, knowing there would be a learning curve and I would have to catch up. Day by day, I learned more and got comfortable. I have seen my confidence growing.”

He credits his success to his time at TSTC. He also learned that his supervisor had inside knowledge of the programs offered at TSTC.

“My boss graduated from the Waco program years ago. He knew that TSTC trained good employees,” Trevino said.

With the help of instructor Daniel Diaz, Trevino was able to interview for a job before he graduated in December.

“I knew other people were having a hard time, but Daniel was able to help me get my foot in the door,” he said.

Since his time at work, some people have told him to expand his knowledge. For now, Trevino is happy to be working at a job that he trained for.

“I am one of those guys that likes to get all dirty,” he said. “I really like what I do on a daily basis.”

Trevino was not always a person who liked to work on equipment. That changed after he enrolled at TSTC.

“Working in the lab made me learn what was going wrong with a machine. I used to stay away from those situations, but not anymore,” he said.  “I really like trying to figure things out.”

Trevino said TSTC’s instructors were helpful in showing him the proper way that equipment works.

“If we did not understand something, they would always be there to show us. It helps that they worked in the field,” he said. “All of their training and knowledge has been helpful to me in my career.”

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Lance continues to learn after earning associate degree at TSTC

(ABILENE, Texas) – Marcus Lance has done a lot in a short period of time at Texas’ largest limestone quarry.

After earning an associate degree in Industrial Systems at Texas State Technical College in 2020, Lance began working for Champion Stone Co. in Lueders. The maintenance technician has seen his education pay off daily.

“I am the main guy when it comes to all of the electrical boxes at the quarry. I have also installed three or four different plumbing systems while I have been working there,” he said.

Lance has also learned how to use heavy machinery, including a front-end loader.

“I have to do a lot of different things when it comes to work. At school, we learned to operate a forklift, but now I can drive a front-end loader with 20,000 pounds on it,” he said. “I never thought I would be able to say I could operate something that big.”

Having an aptitude for operating mechanical equipment comes naturally to Lance. In his spare time, he makes knives in his backyard shop.

“Do-it-yourself and using equipment is right up my alley,” he said. “I think having more experience will help you in life.”

When Lance started the program, he knew he had some experience, but he was surprised by how much he learned.

“I would apply what I did know when I was in class, but I was surprised that almost daily I would learn something I did not know,” he said.

Lance said being raised by a single mother led him to learn how to fix things around the house and eventually apply that knowledge toward a career.

“It was up to me to help her out. If something were wrong with the car, I would dive right in and try to fix it,” he said. “I wanted to get things done around our house that needed to be done. While I was able to do that, I was learning a new skill.”

Lance said one skill he learned at TSTC was welding.

“I was able to learn enough about welding that I bought my own welder,” he said. “I am the kind of person that likes to read instructions and put that knowledge to work. Once I read about it, I want to use it over and over again to make sure I know I am doing it correctly.”

Lance said the program offers people various options, but he does have advice for anyone considering Industrial Systems.

“It may be overwhelming at times, but remember you do not have to become a master,” he said. “Make sure you are comfortable with what you are doing so you can take the next steps.”

According to, electrical technician jobs are expected to increase 8% by 2028. Instructor Daniel Diaz said people like Lance and other TSTC graduates are able to learn different trades and become highly skilled when they complete the program.

“We offer a lot of different options for our students. They are able to learn different areas of the trade and can find a good job when they graduate,” Diaz said.

For more information, visit

TSTC students see career opportunities in Industrial Systems program

(ABILENE, Texas) – One of the first things students learn in Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Systems program is that many job opportunities await them after graduation.

That was the reason why Jacob Nelson, Levi Taylor and Dalton Tiner decided to enroll in the program. What they have learned over their first two semesters is that they made a good decision for a career.

“There are so many different areas we can choose from. This truly is a jack-of-all-trades program,” said Nelson, of Abilene, who is pursuing a certificate in the program.

Industrial Systems students learn to install, operate, test and maintain equipment in various facilities. The three students, along with their classmates, are learning industry-standard safety procedures, mechanical and electrical skills, diagnostic techniques, how to read and interpret schematics, and how to work with motors, pumps, chillers, boilers, and programmable logic control systems.

Nelson said his family worked in many of the fields covered in the program. It was a perfect opportunity for him to expand his knowledge.

“I am pretty good at welding and working with my hands. I wanted to broaden my skills in that area,” he said, adding that he plans to study for an associate degree.

Taylor, of Hawley, is also pursuing an associate degree in the program and has been impressed with what he has been able to learn in a short time.

“I have learned there are a lot of opportunities available for people who study in this program,” he said.

According to, electrical technician positions are expected to grow by 8% in Texas over the next decade.

That trend has led to younger people enrolling in the program, something instructor Daniel Diaz likes to see.

“With many of our students starting younger, it gives them more time for growth in the industry,” Diaz said. “All of our students see success in the industry. This program helps get them off on the right foot.”

Nelson said having Diaz as an instructor helps him know that what he is learning will be used in the field.

“All of the experience he has had in the field is helpful,” Nelson said. “We know that when we read something, the instructors will tell us about that and how it applies to what we may see in the field. They have seen it, so they can explain it to us and give us their experience in that situation.”

Taylor said having state-of-the-art equipment to train with was another reason he chose to attend TSTC.

“I am a very hands-on person, and having time in the lab is the best part of the program,” he said.

Tiner’s father studied Industrial Systems at TSTC more than 10 years ago. Having the lab sessions today is something that Tiner, of Brownwood, is proud to talk to his father about.

“He had to do a lot more reading back then. He told me that having the equipment here is going to help me prepare for a career,” said Tiner, who is pursuing a certificate of completion in the program.

For more information, visit

TSTC helps fill need for chemical dependency counselors

(ABILENE, Texas) – The need for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors is expected to grow over the next decade.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 26 percent increase in the number of counselors needed in Texas by 2028, and Texas State Technical College is helping to train counselors to fill that need through its online Chemical Dependency Counseling program.

Many of the students in the program learn more about themselves, according to Chemical Dependency Counseling instructor Patty Bundick.

“Some of our students are hungry to know more about themselves,” she said. “The one thing I always think about, even if the student does not go to work in the field, is that the program has made a difference in their life.”

Making a difference in someone’s life is what inspires Leigh Anne Folger, a counselor at Addiction Behavioral Services.

“I can’t take credit for their success or get down if they fail,” said the 2017 TSTC graduate. “All I do is provide them with the information that can help them. I hold up the road map to a successful life. They have to want to drive the car.”

Abilene’s Ashli Arispe shares that same philosophy.

“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, a 2020 TSTC graduate, 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.

“I want to help more people, and help them plant their seeds and watch them sprout,” she said.

The five-semester Associate of Applied Science degree program at TSTC covers several topics, including working with families and family intervention. Students will discuss current issues ranging from child protective services to HIV and other diseases.

Joseph Ott, a 2015 graduate of the program, said he always enjoyed helping people and that was the main reason he chose the field.

“I knew that being 22 years sober that I would try to help people. It is not about the money for me,” he said.

The median annual salary for a counselor, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $46,240 in 2019.

Graduates of TSTC’s program have found employment at different facilities in West Texas, including the Abilene Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Homeward Bound, Serenity House, the Taylor County Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.

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TSTC Business Management Technology prepares students for a range of career options

(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s online Business Management Technology program prepares students for a wide range of career options.

Graduates of the program have worked in different areas of business, from accounting to business management. Earning an associate degree or certificate has opened doors for many of the program’s graduates.

Ron Howard is now working for the Taylor County Veterans’ Service Office after earning an associate degree in 2019.

“Everything I learned in the program is helping me tremendously in my job. It has helped me with all of the computer skills and with Word documents,” he said. “My job all day is working on a computer.”

Howard said he could not have succeeded without the help of the TSTC instructors.

“The one-on-one time they give you is great. They do not tell you, ‘Here is the work, go do it’; they make sure you understand what to do,” he said. “The instructors will set you up to succeed.”

Howard would visit his former instructors before the coronavirus pandemic and now communicates with them via email.

“I hope we can get together again. They helped me so much,” the U.S. Marine Corps veteran said.

Instructor Duston Brooks said many students, including Howard, take the learning further by earning a bachelor’s degree.

With TSTC offering a certification and degree program online, Brooks said the cost is minimal.

“Students will need a laptop and good internet access, of course,” he said. 

Brooks said students would learn the skills needed for a business to succeed. These include a clear understanding of accounting and principles; efficient management processes; practical verbal, electronic, and visual communication skills, work; how to work with supervisors, customers, employees, and stakeholders; and knowledge of computer software, including word processing spreadsheets, and presentation software.

Small-business owners have taken the course to improve the company’s management end, Brooks said. He also has had students who worked in physical labor positions but took the course to work in an office.

Howard said the program offers people career choices.

“I think people should embrace what they learn in the program. They will succeed,” he said. “TSTC’s Business Management Technology program is the best out there.”

For more information, visit

TSTC student travels unique path to Paramedic program

(ABILENE, Texas) – Erik Duenes was asked a simple question while working in his hometown of Ozona.

“I was working in maintenance at a nursing home, and the director of the EMS (emergency medical services) asked me if I wanted to drive an ambulance,” said the Texas State Technical College student. “I knew it was a chance to make some extra money.”

What Duenes, who is studying to become a paramedic, did not expect was for a career to unfold.

“I took my first emergency medical technician class at the local service, and I was hooked. I went on to earn advanced EMT certification, and now I am studying to be a paramedic. I never thought I would fall in love with the medical field.”

Duenes said he is working to become a paramedic to support his wife and two children.

“I wanted to be able to provide for them. They are the fire that drives me to succeed,” he said.

In his first semester, Duenes has been impressed with the lab sessions and clinical work.

“Everything has been really good,” he said. “I knew becoming a paramedic would be more demanding. I understood that there would be more studying and work, and prepared myself for it.”

Duenes said his experience at TSTC has been more than he expected, especially during the Wednesday lab sessions.

“I did not realize we would have so much one-on-one time and be able to work with each other,” he said. “I knew there would be studying, but to come here on Wednesdays and execute what we have learned is the best part of the week.”

Duenes also likes learning from experienced instructors.

“They know how everything is supposed to be done. They want everyone to work together to succeed,” he said.

TSTC was the perfect choice for Duenes, and he hopes more people study Emergency Medical Services at the TSTC campuses in Abilene, Brownwood or Harlingen.

“My EMS director in Ozona graduated from TSTC. So I am kind of following in his footsteps,” he said. “I have told other EMTs I know that they need to come to TSTC and study.”

The state of Texas has more than 20,600 EMT-paramedics employed statewide, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Duenes wants to be part of that group.

“I am ready to get back out there and work with the new skills I am learning,” he said.

For more information, visit

Fallbeck uses knowledge learned at TSTC at new job

(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College graduate Anthony Fallbeck is now giving computer advice.

Fallbeck, who received an associate degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration in 2020, recently started working in the information technology department at Hendrick Health System in Abilene.

“I have learned a lot in the few days I have been here. I learned that not everyone knows how to work a computer,” he said. “The best advice I give people is to always ask questions. You are not going to figure everything out on your own.”

Fallbeck plans to use the teaching style of TSTC instructor Leo Chavez while helping Hendrick employees.

“Leo would always push us in the right direction. He would not give us the answer but would make us search for it,” he said. “He would also give us hints to find the answers.”

Chavez said Fallbeck will be a valuable addition to the Hendrick staff.

“If he doesn’t know something or just needs a nudge in the right direction, you can be sure that he’ll work at learning whatever it is until he understands it fully,” Chavez said. “This is the trait he’s used most to get through his classes, and it’ll be the trait he uses to be even more successful in the future.”

Fallbeck said he was looking for a career change when he chose to go back to school. He decided to leave his job with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison system and applied to TSTC.

“Honestly, I was looking for a new career field. I had piddled on computers all of my life,” he said. “I would work to see how they worked and decided to earn a degree in the field.”

Fallbeck has been one of the program’s biggest promoters since he graduated.

“I tell people anytime I can that TSTC is the place to be,” he said. “If you want to learn to work on computers, I tell people to check out the course.”

For more information, visit

Johnson tours TSTC, finds new career

(ABILENE, Texas) – U.S. Navy veteran James Johnson had some downtime in his life.

“I decided I wanted to go back to school. I knew I could use my GI Bill,” said Johnson, a student in Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Systems program.

In fact, Johnson already knew some of the things he would learn in the program. While in the Navy, Johnson worked with electronics, satellite communications and information technology systems.

When he left the Navy, he entered the workforce as a calibrator for Texas Aerospace Services. But the downtime came, and he wanted to learn more.

“When you see what is in here (TSTC’s Industrial Technology Center), everything is offered in this one program,” he said. “Welding is just one aspect. This program offers you multiple opportunities.”

Another reason he chose TSTC was the help he received from Annette Collins, the Veteran Services program officer in West Texas.

“Annette is one of the reasons I started here. She knows what veterans need to do to get into school,” Johnson said. “She would sit down with me and help me with each step.”

Collins was equally impressed with Johnson.

I was so honored to talk to him because he holds all the values of a veteran,” she said. “I saw the potential in him, and I felt that Industrial Systems would be great for him. He has all the skills to do great things in that program.”

While touring the program, Collins introduced Johnson to the instructors. The introductions strengthened her belief in Johnson.

“After he talked to the instructors, he was more enthusiastic about the program,” she said.

Johnson said instructors Daniel Diaz and Demetri Jones prepare students for the future.

“They are very thorough while we are in the lab,” he said. “I came in knowing some things, but I have learned so much more.”

Johnson said the program offers students several opportunities.

“I have been learning about pumps and boilers. That is something I have not known much about,” he said. “We are covering it all. We talk about it, and the instructors explain what we need to do.”

With different areas being covered, Johnson said students should be prepared to do one thing.

“Be prepared to devote your time to this program. What we do in the lab two days a week is easy,” he said. “The hard part, for me, is to take the time and commit myself to working online before coming here. You will need to look at all of the material.”

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TSTC students look forward to getting careers off the ground

(ABILENE, Texas) – Students in Texas State Technical College’s Aircraft Airframe Technology program are back in the hangar.

Students studying for a certificate in the program began their second semester in January and are ready to learn more about the inner workings of an aircraft.

“This semester, so far, has been really good for me,” said Jordan Grisham, of Tyler. “We have been learning a lot of different things, including basic electronics and wood/fabric finishes.”

Grisham was drawn to the program after friends told him it would be a good career choice.

“I also like the mechanical side of the job,” he said. “I have a lot of family members that are pilots, and I thought I would join the family trade. Planes have always been intriguing to me.”

Grisham said he was ready to get back in the hangar after the winter break.

“During the long break, I did not want to leave. I just wanted to stay with it,” he said. “I enjoy the hands-on approach offered in the program.”

Darwin Binek, who is originally from the Metroplex, said his time in the U.S. Marine Corps flying missions overseas led him to continuing in the field.

“The semester has been going really well,” he said. “This is an extension of what I did in the military for 18 years.”

Binek’s wife wanted to move back to Texas, and a family member recommended that he look at TSTC. He said TSTC offers one thing the military did not.

“I like going to school. It is a lot easier than getting shot at when I was deployed,” he said jokingly.

Binek appreciates being able to work in the hangar while also having to study online.

“Like in the military, I learn more by doing things with my hands,” he said. “It is easier for me to get a task done by doing it.”

Both Grisham and Binek know that TSTC is preparing them for a career. But they may go different routes after receiving their certificates.

“I am looking forward to getting a job working on planes,” Grisham said. “I think at the same time I will start learning how to fly.”

Binek would like to return to his roots.

“I think I will try to get on with a defense contractor somewhere,” he said.

For more information, visit