Category Archives: Abilene

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.”

For more information, visit

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

Daily conversation leads Hernandez to TSTC

(ABILENE, Texas) – While working in her hometown of Snyder, Veronica Hernandez talked to a Scurry County EMS paramedic daily.

The more she talked to the first responder, the more her interest grew in becoming one herself. Hernandez decided it was a good career option and began Texas State Technical College’s Emergency Medical Services program in January.

“I went to college after high school and was not really feeling it,” she said. “I ended up working for my parents. There was a paramedic next door, and we would always talk. He would tell me what was happening, and I found it interesting. All of a sudden, I knew what I wanted to do.”

While she was late to register for a Scurry County EMS-based program, she knew that TSTC offered the program close to home.

“So far, I have loved every minute of the program here,” Hernandez said. “I like to help people, and I knew this would be the right step.”

Through the first few weeks of the program, Hernandez said she has learned more than she expected.

“The skills we learn in the lab are great,” she said. “Even with COVID protocols, it is good we still have the opportunity to learn. In February, we are going to be starting clinicals. I am excited to be working in different hospitals and ambulances.”

Hernandez is planning to complete her certification and return to study for an associate degree.

“I am going all the way in this program. I will have so many different options after that,” she said.

During high school, Hernandez knew of TSTC’s program, but she did not realize how much the instructors wanted to see students succeed.

“The instructors are awesome. They are so open,” she said. “They like to have one-on-one conversations with you. It is so easy to communicate with the instructors and the students.”

She also likes that most TSTC graduates will be working immediately after school.

“When they told us that we could start working in May, that is something I did not dream of,” she said. “They are preparing us to work in the field.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 1,000 emergency medical technicians and paramedics are employed in West Texas. It estimates that EMT/paramedic jobs will increase by 6% by 2029.

Hernandez said TSTC is the place to go for a person wanting to enter the paramedic field.

“The instructors are going to hold you to the highest standard. They are going to make sure you know the material to succeed,” she said.

Hernandez did admit there was one regret.

“I really wish I would have started this program sooner,” she said.

For more information, visit

Students travel different paths to TSTC’s Welding Technology program

(ABILENE, Texas) – Welding Technology at Texas State Technical College is one of the more popular programs offered statewide.

Students enter the program for different reasons, from seeking a career change to learning more about a craft they dabbled in during a weekend project. TSTC instructors will teach students how to hone the craft in order to find a career or simply to complete a weekend project.

Matt Hanneman is finishing his final semester of the associate degree program. He wanted to change careers and knew welders make good money.

“I was in residential and commercial construction,” he said. “I decided I wanted a career change. What I plan to be is a certified welding instructor.”

The lifelong resident of Abilene knew that TSTC offered welding and would be the perfect place to get his education.

“The teachers are really good and are perfect for this program,” Hanneman said. “They let us play around with different projects but are always there to make sure we do things correctly.”

Donovan Gomez, of Clyde, entered the program after working on welding jobs when he graduated from high school.

“I started to like it more and more,” he said. “I wanted to follow my brother in diesel mechanics, but I learned that I enjoyed welding more.”

Gomez is working on his certificate with the goal of finding employment close to home.

“I hope to work in the oil fields in West Texas,” he said.

Like Hanneman, Gomez said the instructors help students learn the tricks of the trade.

“They will let us go through one project, and we will go show them what we did,” he said. “They will tell us what we need to do to fix our project. They always want us to get better.”

Gomez said he was nervous when he first started the program in the fall but has settled into his work bay.

“I think things have come pretty naturally for me,” he said.

Gomez’s biggest struggle was with reading blueprints. But with encouragement, he gained confidence.

“The instructors were always there to help me. Now I am able to read the blueprint and get the work done,” he said.

Hanneman said having a lab available to complete projects drew him to TSTC. But there was another reason why he chose TSTC.

“I really like TSTC’s money-back guarantee. It shows me the confidence of the school because they will give us our money back if we do not find a job,” he said.

In addition to Welding Technology, the money-back guarantee program is available for Diesel Equipment Technology, Electrical Lineworker Technology, Electrical Power and Controls, and Instrumentation.

Gomez said anyone interested in welding should look at TSTC first.

“All of the machines and equipment we have is great,” he said. “This is a great place to learn.”

For more information, visit

TSTC Emergency Medical Services student one year away from achieving goal

(ABILENE Texas) – Texas State Technical College Emergency Medical Services student Laura Jungling is close to achieving a major milestone in her life.

“I began the paramedic program this week, and I am one year from my goal of becoming a paramedic,” she said.

Like many people, Jungling enrolled in the EMS program with a specific purpose.

“It might sound cliche, but my reason for becoming an EMT was my desire to help people,” she said. “I also wanted to give back to the community.”

Jungling, who recently passed the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification exam, said she looks forward to the variety of experiences she will encounter in the field.

“I know that not one day will be the same,” she said. “I know that every call will be different.”

Jungling said she considered other options for a medical career, but nursing was not something she wanted to pursue.

“A lot of the schools I looked at offered nursing, but I wanted something fast-paced,” she said.

The more Jungling explored TSTC’s program, the more impressed she became. Once she started taking classes and participating in lab sessions, she knew it was the right decision.

“I really appreciate the instructors. They push us on a daily basis not to fail,” she said. “They really want every student to succeed.”

Jungling said instructors prepared students in every aspect of becoming an EMT from the first day of class.

“They have been through this in the field. They would not let us do anything that they have not done first,” she said.

She also chose TSTC because of the program’s success rate. Instructor Richard Sharp said students who recently completed the program had a 100 percent passing rate on the certification exam, and each graduate found employment.

Jungling knows once she completes the paramedic program, she will be able to find a job that pays well.

“An entry-level paramedic can expect to make in excess of $45,000 to $50,000 a year,” Sharp said.

With a new group of EMS students beginning this month, Jungling said they should not get discouraged.

“There can be some times of uncertainty during the program,” she said. “Just remember that the instructors will give you every single tool you need to be successful.” 

For more information on TSTC, visit

TSTC student wants to travel country as welder

(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College student Quincy Butler has set a goal for himself.

Butler, who completed his first semester in Welding Technology this fall, wants to be a traveling welder. He is studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree in order to achieve his goal.

“I have seen most of Texas and decided I wanted to see the rest of the country,” he said. “I wanted to do that by doing something I liked, which is welding.”

Instructor Anthony Lewis is encouraged by his story, saying Butler has shown promising welding skills.

“I was very intrigued by his story and know he will do a good job,” Lewis said.

“I was always interested in welding,” Butler said, adding that he did not pick up a torch much before beginning classes in August. “Once I picked it up, I think I took to it like a duck to water.”

He wanted to pursue an associate degree for one reason.

“Having an associate degree in hand will give me job security,” he said. “It will lead me down a career path as far as employers. I know that will help me when applying for a job.”

Butler said a friend talked to him about taking welding classes at TSTC.

“He graduated from the welding program last year and has given me a lot of advice,” he said. “He is working in the field right now, and I know I can always call him.”

Butler said he is using some of the techniques he learned during his first semester on outside projects.

“I knew the TSTC instructors would be able to help. The program is laid out great for people to learn,” he said.

When it comes to traveling the country to work, Butler said he did not have a preference on what type of work he wants to do.

“Whether it is an oil pipeline, wind turbines or the big buildings in larger cities, I want to be able to see the rest of the country and make this my career,” he said.

His path is just beginning at TSTC, and he knows it was a good choice.

“I know with an education from TSTC I will be set for the rest of my life,” he said. “This will be something that one day I will be able to teach my children and then to their children.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, welding jobs will increase by nearly 4 percent in the United States by 2028.

For more information on TSTC, visit

Hall begins new adventure in TSTC’s Welding Technology program

(ABILENE, Texas) – Jeremiah Hall, of Coleman, knew his life would be an adventure.

The U.S. Army veteran, who was stationed in Hawaii, moved to West Texas after he completed his military service. This fall, his adventurous life led him to Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology program.

“I guess you could say I was tired of being lazy,” said Hall, who also works as a grocery store manager. “I always say life is an adventure, and this is just another one I can take.”

A friend led him to TSTC’s welding program, and he is working toward his certification. He hopes that the certification, coupled with his customer service experience, will benefit him when he joins the welding workforce.

“I feel you have to have good customer service skills after talking to a few welding companies,” he said. “I think I will be able to work well because I have structured myself to do better.”

Instructor Anthony Lewis said students will be able to find a job in the region after completing the program. That is something Hall said attracted him to TSTC.

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

Hall said he enjoys attending lab sessions and talking to his classmates. His Army service comes into play when he is in the lab.

“When I was in the military, regardless of who you were, we would always treat people like they were grown,” he said. “We know that we have to get our weld done, but we treat others with respect and as adults.”

He said the instructors are there to make sure students succeed, something that everyone appreciates.

“If we have any questions, they do not mind helping us. They want us to be successful,” Hall said.

Since he started working in his lab bay, Hall said he enjoys trying the different techniques demonstrated during class.

“There is always plenty of stuff for us to weld. I just like trying all of the different techniques,” he said. “It makes me feel like I am getting better when I know that I can do a new technique.”

Hall said anyone can start the program, even if they do not have experience.

“I had just a little bit of experience. I did some welding for the city of Coleman, but nothing like this before,” he said. “This goes to show you that if you work hard, you can succeed.”

For more information about TSTC, visit

TSTC student wants to continue family tradition in aviation

(ABILENE, Texas) – Coltton Johnson hopes his journey will continue a family tradition.

The first-year Aircraft Powerplant Technology student at Texas State Technical College is following in his father’s footsteps. The Idaho native arrived in Abilene after his father retired from the U.S. Air Force and began working for Eagle Aviation Services.

“I have been around planes my whole life,” he said. “I wanted to make working in aviation a family tradition.”

While Johnson has not yet started working on the aircraft at the TSTC hangar, he knows that will be the best part of the program.

“I like the hands-on aspect of this program. I appreciate what we are learning right now because it keeps us on track,” he said. “All of the material is laid out really well.”

Johnson said he is working to obtain his associate degree and knows his father is always willing to help. His Air Force and Eagle experience is helping Johnson during lectures.

“He has worked with me a little. But he wants me to learn what I need to know,” Johnson said. “I sometimes ask him general questions, but always have to make sure I know the answers.”

One piece of advice that Johnson’s father gave him when he started still resonates with him.

“My dad told me that if there is anything that is considered Federal Aviation Administration material in the course, I need to study it and know it,” he said. “I make sure that I know it.”

Being around aircraft before he started classes paid off early for him.

“I felt well prepared for the start of school,” Johnson said. “I am going to study everything to make sure I succeed.”

Johnson said being able to walk into the hangar and see students working on planes is helping him work harder.

“My choice to attend TSTC is better than I could have ever expected,” he said. “I am glad I chose to follow my dad in the aviation field.”

For more information about TSTC, visit

TSTC alumna works to lead people down right road

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Leigh Anne Folger is using her life experience as a road map to help others.

Folger, a 2017 graduate of Texas State Technical College’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program, is a counselor at Addiction Behavioral Services. Prior to joining the staff, she worked as a counselor at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Thomas R. Havins Unit in Brownwood.

“I know I am not responsible for my clients’ decisions. I can’t take credit for their success or get down if they fail,” she said. “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.”

Folger said she got her life on track after being released from prison. She knew a career in the medical field would not be possible, but another option was available.

“I made a lot of bad decisions in my life, and they finally caught up to me,” she said. “I knew that I would never have a career in the field I once dreamed of, which was the medical field. So I thought, ‘Why don’t I become a counselor?’ I knew I could help people by using my life experiences.”

Folger reconnected with a friend and classmate at Addiction Behavioral Services, Laura Weaver. Folger credits Weaver for steering her to TSTC’s counseling program.

“I had these unrealistic fears of failing. I was kind of hesitant to enroll,” she said. “Laura said she would meet me at the school.”

Once Folger walked onto the Brownwood campus, she felt at ease.

“Everyone had a smile on their face. No one was bothered by all of the questions I had,” she said. “Everyone at TSTC made me excited about going back to school.”

After graduation, Folger began working for the Havins Unit. It served as a reminder for her to move forward.

“I love what I do. Working at the unit felt like a reminder that I did not want to go back,” she said.

She also knew which inmates needed the most help.

“About 60 percent of the guys had already made up their mind that they did not want to return to prison,” Folger said. “It was those individuals on the fence that I targeted. I wanted to persuade them that the grass was greener on the outside.”

When the chance came to work for Addiction Behavioral Services, she did not hesitate.

“Looking back, I enjoyed my time at the unit. I just wanted to make a change,” Folger said. “Being able to work with Laura was also amazing. Everything has come full circle for me.”

Folger continues to praise TSTC and the staff for helping her find her way.

“Had it not been for TSTC, there is no telling where I would be right now,” she said. “TSTC was amazing. (Instructor) Elizabeth Jones is amazing. She has more insight than anyone in this field. I even recommend TSTC to people looking to restart their life. It worked for me.”

For more information about TSTC, visit

Sanders intrigued by TSTC’s ‘essential man’s course’

(ABILENE, Texas) – Robert Sanders, of College Station, said Industrial Systems is the “essential man’s course” at Texas State Technical College.

Sanders is always smiling when he walks into the Industrial Technology Center for classes. He is studying for an associate degree, saying his motivation is to be the best at whatever he does. 

One thing he does like to do is work on things.

“I come from an old-fashioned background,” he said. “I am a gearhead at heart. I like to prep and fix things. This course is perfect for me because it is definitely the essential man’s course.”

Being one of the older students has not deterred him from helping others.

“There is a great group of guys in this class,” Sanders said. “There are some brilliant minds in this class.”

He is impressed with the creativity of the younger students and how well the instructors present lessons and lab sessions.

“With the younger guys in the class, the mix of their wisdom is great,” Sanders said. “This is a program that is perfect for any age group.”

There is also a competitive nature in class, but everyone in the class wants to succeed.

“We help each other a lot. I am highly competitive, but I am going to do what I can to help others,” he said.

While the students are working, one thing is certain.

“Safety is No. 1 for us,” Sanders said. “We are aware of what is going on around us, and if someone does something that is not safe, we stop what we are doing.”

The father of two sons, Sanders has advice for parents planning to go to college.

“Have a good support system at home,” he said. “I knew it would be hard to go to school and work, but I am so glad I have a good support system in place.”

Sanders is no stranger to TSTC. He began taking Computer Networking classes in 2004 but quickly learned it was not for him. 

“I realized real quick that it was not for me. I stopped before I finished and went into the Air Force,” he said. “But I always knew that I would come back.”

He is back and enrolled in a program that he has a passion for, and he lets everyone know.

“This is an amazing school,” he said. “There is no comparison.”

TSTC trains Industrial Systems students to be machinery experts who can keep facilities running safely and efficiently. Students learn a broad range of skills needed to install, operate, test, repair and maintain a variety of mechanical equipment. They learn industry-standard safety procedures, mechanical and electrical skills, diagnostic techniques, and how to work with motors, pumps, chillers, boilers, and programmable logic control systems.

For more information about TSTC, visit