Category Archives: Brownwood

Amos enjoys challenges of TSTC’s Welding Technology

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Comanche’s Caden Amos likes the challenges he faces in Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology classes.

He is working toward a certificate and looking forward to the day when he has a job. With instructor Daniel Aguirre providing his own work experience, Amos knows he will be well prepared when he graduates.

“Daniel likes to throw a curve at us,” Amos said. “He knows when he does that, we will be ready to take on anything.”

Amos started the program with no welding experience, but Aguirre has seen his progression over the last two semesters.

“He came in here with zero experience and has picked up things really well,” Aguirre said. “He is actually understanding what goes into making a good welder.”

Amos said he had trouble learning the welding fundamentals, but credits Aguirre and other students for helping him.

“I would take my project to Daniel, and he would say I needed to toy with it,” Amos said. “Some of the guys in here have welding experience, and I know I can go to them to see how things can be improved.”

Aguirre said Amos’ work ethic will lead him to a career.

“He puts great effort into his work. He knows that if it is not how I like it, he will keep working to make it right,” he said.

Amos said he does not have any regrets about choosing TSTC and a welding career.

“I was thinking about becoming a mechanical engineer, but took a shot in the dark and tried welding,” he said. “I knew TSTC would prepare me for a career.”

Once he is working, Amos knows the environment will be different.

“I want to see how everything I am learning relates to the real world and not in a shop setting,” he said. “I know when I am working I am going to have to learn on the fly. Daniel is preparing me for that.”

Welding runs in Amos’ family, and he hopes to work in the West Texas oil fields like his brother.

“I hope to follow in my brother’s footsteps,” he said.

Amos said more people should consider a career in welding and taking classes at TSTC.

“The staff here is great. If you fall behind, everyone will help you get caught up,” he said. “Everyone here wants you to succeed.”

Welding Technology is available at each of TSTC’s 10 campuses.

For more information, visit

TSTC Welding Technology student makes dad proud

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Lacey Watson, of Coleman, is now able to show her father some of the latest welding techniques.

Watson, a Welding Technology student at Texas State Technical College, is working toward a certificate in the program, but she is most pleased with showing what she has learned to her father, a longtime welder.

“My dad is really happy with what I am learning,” she said. “When I show him some of the things we are learning, he tells me, ‘We didn’t do that way back in the day.’ I know he is proud of me.”

Instructor Daniel Aguirre is also proud of Watson’s progress.

“At first, she was having a lot of difficulties,” he said. “She has shown really good technique, but when she gets in a rut, she can stay there.”

Aguirre said he motivates Watson, helps her move on and is pleased with the results.

“I will tell her to try some different things to see if it works,” he said. “Once she gets it, she takes off with it and does a great job.”

Watson wanted to be a welder because of her father. She said he is preparing for her to join him in the field.

“He is already asking me about a truck with a welding bed,” she said. “I have to tell him to slow down and let me finish school.”

Watson likes her time in the lab with Aguirre and her classmates.

“So far, I have loved it,” she said. “The best way for me to learn is by doing things. I like having people here to help me.”

One of the advantages Watson has in the lab is that she can work at her own pace.

“Daniel allows us to work until we get the project done. That is helpful for me,” she said.

Having Aguirre as an instructor and access to hands-on training made it even better for Watson.

“TSTC is a great place to learn,” she said. “My uncle attended TSTC, and I knew if I gave it a chance I would love it. I am glad I chose TSTC.”

Watson said once she completes her certification requirements in August, she will be ready to join her father.

“Prior to starting, he told me I could work for him. But I wanted to go to school,” she said. “I cannot wait to be working with him.”

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 perseveres despite medical condition

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Crystal Neudigate-Sharp did not want a medical condition to stop her from earning an Emergency Medical Technician certificate at Texas State Technical College.

“I wanted to teach my children that once you start something, you need to complete it, no matter the obstacles,” said Neudigate-Sharp, a candidate for graduation this semester.

After being injured in an accident, she suffered an allergic reaction to the medication and was without oxygen for 24 minutes.

“The doctor told me that I did not wake up during that time,” Neudigate-Sharp said. “I spent the weekend in the Brownwood hospital but was later transferred to a Dallas hospital.”

She spent three months last summer recovering, which included physical and occupational therapy. Neudigate-Sharp remains in speech therapy, but that did not stop her from returning to school this fall.

“I was so grateful for the online EMT program. I can say I have successfully completed the program despite my physical limitations,” she said.

It took the help of the Brownwood campus staff to get her back on track.

“Everyone at TSTC was very supportive. They were more than helpful,” she said. “They wanted to see me succeed.”

Teresa Phillips, an enrollment coach at the Brownwood campus, was one of those who made an impact on Neudigate-Sharp.

“Crystal sets goals for herself, and then she is very persistent to follow through and work hard to accomplish the goals she has set for herself,” Phillips said.

Neudigate-Sharp’s interest in the field grew while watching her husband, who is also an EMT.

“I had stayed at home for 13 years and knew one day I would go back to school,” she said. “That one day came when my husband said, ‘It’s time to go to school.’”

Neudigate-Sharp enjoys the camaraderie that EMTs have during the workday.

“There is a closeness in that community,” she said. “It felt like the right job for me.”

During TSTC’s virtual graduation celebration on Dec. 10, Neudigate-Sharp will be waiting with her family to see her name appear on the video.

“My kids are so excited for me. They are ecstatic that I have gone through the finish line,” she said. “They have been encouraging me throughout this whole process.”

Neudigate-Sharp looks forward to the day when she can use her certificate to help someone else.

“God is seeing me through this entire ordeal,” she said. “I still pray that I will be able to serve my fellow citizens. I cannot wait to do what I was trained to do.”

To learn more about the Emergency Medical Services program at 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

Mother takes EMS classes at TSTC to help son

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Brittany Hanley did not have to look far for motivation when she enrolled in Texas State Technical College’s Emergency Medical Services program.

“My youngest son was diagnosed with a heart condition,” she said. “I did not want to be one of those parents that would freak out. I wanted to be the one that would be able to react.”

That is why she decided to enroll at TSTC.

“I know that in a matter of seconds something could go wrong with my son,” Hanley said. “I knew I wanted to be able to help him.”

Hanley, a lifelong resident of Brownwood, said she had previously wanted to pursue a career as an emergency medical technician.

“I just never got started on it,” she said.

After meeting her husband and moving back to Brownwood, Hanley began exploring the program again.

“We started a family, and I was more focused on them,” she said. “But having to travel to Cook Children’s Hospital every six months opened my eyes. I wanted to be able to help my son and family.”

Hanley wanted to know more about her son’s heart condition and was always attentive when doctors spoke to her. She is taking that information and using it in classes this fall.

She is also relying on her classmates to help her when she may be having a bad day.

“The group I am in has a variety of ages and backgrounds. We are building relationships together, and that is something I like,” she said. “We are there to help each other out.”

Hanley said students talk about what they learn during lab sessions to make sure they succeed.

“We are texting each other and asking what to do during a certain part of the class,” she said. “I am having to stay up late to get my studying done. I know it will pay off.”

According to Hanley, students have one goal when they eventually find employment.

“We want to be able to get together and say cheers to saving that one life,” she said. “This program will allow us to do that.”

For more information about TSTC, visit

Ott credits TSTC staff for pushing him to finish college

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Five years after he graduated from Texas State Technical College, Joseph Ott still thanks the Brownwood campus staff.

“Everybody at the Brownwood campus was on my side,” said the 2015 graduate of the Chemical Dependency Counseling program. “The passion that was there from my instructor Elizabeth Jones, Raquel Mata (associate provost) and Brian Kight (former associate vice president of enrollment) kept me going.”

Ott, who is now a counselor at Corpus Christi’s South Texas Substance Abuse Recovery Services (STSARS), did not consider college or a career in counseling others. An injury on a construction site in Brownwood and being sober for several years led him to TSTC.

“I kind of stumbled on the school and program,” Ott said. “Without my injury, I would not have gone to college.”

Ott was in Brownwood at the time of his injury and knew the counseling program would be a good fit for him.

“I have always enjoyed helping people,” he said. “I knew that being 22 years sober meant that I needed to try and help people.”

While he did have ups and downs at TSTC, Ott said Mata always helped him with writing assignments and Jones offered support when he was down.

“Raquel would always stay after hours to help me with an essay. She looked over it and told me that I was learning to get it right,” he said. “She stayed way beyond her work hours to help. Mrs. Jones could have gone home, but she stayed to make sure the work was done correctly.”

Mata, who was an instructor when Ott was a student, saw his battle to finish school.

“Even though there were times when he said he wanted to quit, I don’t think he meant it. He was just frustrated, but he kept coming back,” she said. “I know my fellow employees, like Brian Kight, Tammy Vassar and Elizabeth Jones, challenged him to continue.”

After he graduated, Ott began a counseling career. Even that took a nudge — from his brother Bruce.

“He asked me after I graduated why I did not send resumes out,” Ott said. “I had a fear of not being hired. My brother told me after about three months that it was not time to waste my education. I sent out my resumes and was hired.”

Ott left his first counseling job and returned to construction. However, he still wanted to help people and was hired by STSARS, where he has been employed for the last three years.

He said one thing he likes to talk to his clients about is being grateful. While many wonder what he is talking about at first, they understand by the end of the session.

“I ask my clients to be grateful. I ask them if they have children. I ask them if they have a house or apartment. I ask them if they have food in the cabinet or refrigerator,” he said. “Each time they say yes, I tell them that is something for them to be grateful about.”

Ott said his goal for the sessions is to be uplifting. He wants his clients to see a path forward.

“I can’t take credit for their recovery. I have to guide them and let them know I am proud of them,” he said. 

Mata remains proud of Ott’s journey and has a reminder on her office wall.

“I consider Joseph a true success story. He graduated during our 50th year, when students were given stoles and encouraged to keep or give them to someone who helped them on their journey,” she said. “He showed up to campus one day and said he wished he could cut this into pieces and give us each a section. It still hangs on my wall today and reminds me of what hard work and determination can accomplish.”

For more information about TSTC, visit

TSTC student juggles school, job and family

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – “Chaotic” is the best way Mandy Barker can describe her life right now.

Not only is Barker, who lives in Dublin, a student in Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology program, but she also is the general manager of a fast-food chain in Stephenville and a mother of two children.

“You can say life is very chaotic. Some days it is hard, but I am getting through it all,” she said.

One of the reasons she gets through a day of school, work and family is the support system at home.

“My boyfriend really motivates me. He keeps me going,” Barker said. “I know that the best result for me will be the end result in getting a welding job.”

Barker said she hopes to work on the Texas oil pipelines, a field in which her boyfriend is currently employed. She said knowing a job could be on the horizon after she receives her certificate also is a motivation.

“My boyfriend helps me all the time. He has told me several times that I do not need to quit,” Barker said.

Barker did have one worry before starting the program. She was hoping to see at least one other female in the welding lab.

“It was a huge relief walking into the lab the first time and I saw three other females in the class,” she said. “I called my boyfriend and told him. He was excited for me, knowing that was one of my fears.”

Her boyfriend also offered Barker some advice prior to the first day.

“He told me to just go and show everyone that you can do a man’s job,” Barker said.

While in the lab, she said all of the students help each other.

“It is a very good environment to learn in. TSTC teaches us great skills,” Barker said. “I love this program. It is helping me toward a career.”

She learned of TSTC’s welding program while living in Brownwood. Once she decided to go to school, TSTC was her top choice.

“I knew I could get on track here with my schedule,” she said. “Everyone is willing to work with you to make you successful.”

For more information about TSTC, visit

TSTC student finds dream job before completing program

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Will Hancock has landed his dream job.

The Texas State Technical College Computer Networking and Systems Administration student will begin working for Bangs ISD as an information technology specialist while completing his graduation requirements. He credits TSTC with helping him find the career opportunity in the field he fell in love with as a child.

“When I was around five or six, my grandmother bought me one of the old Macintosh computers with the floppy discs,” said the 34-year-old Hancock. “I played games on that a lot. I got another computer when I was 10 or 11 and took it apart and put it back together just to see how it works.”

After high school, Hancock did not look to further his education immediately but went to work for an internet company.

“I fell back in love with technology when I got that job,” he said.

It wasn’t until he was sitting with his daughter and former wife that he realized he wanted to go to college.

“I wanted my daughter to have everything, and I knew school would be the only way to do that,” he said.

While working for a broadband wireless internet company, he decided that TSTC would provide him with the skills needed to make his dream become a career.

“I am now living my dream. This is all I wanted to do since I was 19 years old,” Hancock said of working on computers. “At that time, I did not think school would be important. I thought maybe I will go back at some point.”

Today, Hancock praises TSTC and how instructors welcome students of all ages to the program. He passes that message to people he meets in Brownwood and Bangs.

“I have told a bunch of people about TSTC. They ask me if they should go back to school, and I tell them to do it,” he said. “It does not matter what age you are. TSTC has so many programs and can teach you a trade that you want to work in. The learning process is great, and everyone is willing to help.”

Hancock said Bangs ISD officials hired him because of his computer knowledge, but he admitted some of the district’s computers are older models.

“They have the old touch screens around the schools,” he said. “They told me that I should know how they work. I do, but it has been a while since I have seen them. It is going to be nice to work on things I love.” 

For more information about TSTC, visit

TSTC student follows family tradition of entering medical field

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Seth Johnston is following other members of his family’s career path into the medical field.

The 18-year-old is a first-year student in Texas State Technical College’s Emergency Medical Services program. Johnston plans to join his mother, who is a registered nurse, father, a computerized tomography technician, and brother, an X-ray technician, in the field of medicine.

“I decided to follow in their footsteps,” he said. “They were really excited for me when I told them I was going to go to school.”

He chose the EMS route after a family member was injured.

“I decided on EMS because my cousin was in a car accident after football practice and they transported him to the hospital,” Johnston said. “I really caught on to what they were doing to help him and decided I wanted to do the same for others.”

He plans to further his education at TSTC by completing the paramedic program after the emergency medical technician certification.

Johnston admitted he did not know what to expect when beginning classes this fall.

“I was in awe when I saw the ambulance simulator,” he said. “I am ready to train in the simulator.”

Johnston said he is looking forward to the portion of the program where he will ride with paramedics in the field.

“I know there will be some anxiety and scary parts to see,” he said. “But it will be interesting to see how things are done in the field.”

Johnston said the hands-on approach is the best way he can take in information.

“I like to see something get done, and then I can get with it,” he said.

Being the youngest member of the class does not stop him from doing his best.

“It is a great environment to work in. My classmates pick me up when they see I am having a bad day,” Johnston said. “I feel included in everything we do. When someone else is down, I am right there to pick them up. Everyone in our class is a team.”

Johnston also said the instructors play an important role in the learning environment.

“They push all of us to do our best. They are always by your side, making sure you know what to do,” he said. 

For more information about TSTC, visit