Category Archives: Harlingen

TSTC Basic Web Design online program invites rapid learning

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Texas State Technical College recently introduced the Rapid Industry Skills and Employability, or RISE, program that allows students to train for a new job in as little as 7 1/2 weeks. Upon completion, students receive an Occupational Skills Award, which gives them the credentials to head off into their new career.

One of the RISE programs is Basic Web Design. The online program teaches students the basics of interface design and web programming.

Statewide department chair Shannon Ferguson and lead instructor David Trower discussed the benefits and components of the accelerated curriculum.

“Students will learn basic HTML and CSS skills so they can do editing of existing (computer) code and write some new code themselves,” Trower said. “They will also be given an introduction to JavaScript as a client-side language to manipulate HTML and CSS inside the web browser.”

The program also touches on other aspects that average users never know are happening behind the scenes of the web pages they visit.

“Students learn how to create the user interface of websites, using wire frames and mock-ups created in Adobe XD and Adobe Photoshop,” he said. “Finally, they learn the development life cycle of web design, and how to use WordPress to create blog posts, pages, and basic WordPress administration.”

Despite being online, students in this program can expect to receive the hands-on support that TSTC is known for.

“The instructors of the Web Design and Development department are firmly committed to our students in providing them the same support that we provided our students when we were face to face,” Trower said. “We have continued our open-door policy to our students through virtual meetings, video conferences, email, Google Hangouts, and videos. We pride ourselves on being accessible to our students outside of the classroom.”

Ferguson reiterated the importance of communication between student and instructor.

“We constantly encourage our students to stay in regular communication with us,” he said. “We offer our students engagement opportunities by providing weekly question-and-answer forums, live virtual sessions, virtual office hours, and rapid response to students’ questions and inquiries. Beyond that, we monitor student activity and reach out to our students at the earliest signs of struggles.”

He added that the e-learning format offers a new level of convenience for many students.

“An online aspect opens the door to students to take our program where they are,” he said. “They are not limited by geography, time of day, or life circumstances. Our online program gives them the flexibility to work our program into their busy schedules.”

To learn more about the Basic Web Design Occupational Skills Award, visit

Surgical Technology hybrid learning underway at TSTC

Surgical technology is a rapidly growing field that is expected to rise in demand through at least 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This well-paying career entails getting front and center in an operating room to help a surgeon with necessities such as cutting sutures, transporting patients and keeping track of equipment in the operating room.

Program director Anna San Pedro discussed the Surgical Technology program offered at Texas State Technical College, as well as some of the new virtual implementations that have been added to comply with TSTC’s COVID-19 safety regulations.

“We are currently offering all our didactic instruction in an online format utilizing Webex for synchronous instruction,” she said. “The majority of the lab instruction is done face to face in our lab. However, we are experimenting with doing some virtual labs to see how well students can adapt to learning online versus traditional face-to-face skills training.”

The new methods of learning take time to get used to.

“Like anything that is new, it takes time to adjust,” she said. “Nevertheless, I am pleasantly surprised with how well students and faculty are adapting to the change and the use of technology.”

San Pedro noted that the new format has allowed for more flexibility for students who have other responsibilities outside of school.

“By moving to a hybrid format, students have greater flexibility in their schedule,” she said. “This has been helpful especially to students who live in the upper valley, and for students who work or have family commitments.”

Even though students participate in virtual labs remotely, the quality of curriculum is not diminished.

“Our virtual labs introduce various skills through online demonstrations and video resources,” she said. “This is followed with face-to-face labs, where the students demonstrate and practice these skills under strict safety guidelines.”

Taryn Crow, who recently received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Surgical Technology, raved about the support system in the program.

“My instructors were very helpful in every way possible,” she said. “When you know you want to study something specific and are given a whole layout designed to show you exactly what you need to take to get there, it’s life-changing. TSTC has incredible resources to help guide and aid you through your time in college so that you are better prepared to take on the world.”

TSTC’s Surgical Technology program accepts 30 students every year in the fall semester. To learn more, visit

Safety is top priority for TSTC Culinary Arts

Texas State Technical College has implemented a hybrid learning format as part of the many safety regulations being followed during the ongoing pandemic.

However, even with more sessions being taught online, programs like Culinary Arts are still managing to give students the hands-on learning that TSTC has become known for.

“Every week students meet their hands-on training,” said Culinary Arts instructor Ayla Cabarubio. “While completing an on-campus lab, students are provided with their own designated workspace, which allows for social distancing standards to be met.”

Lead Culinary Arts instructor Emma Creps mentioned a positive aspect of the new way of learning.

“The class sizes are smaller in order to maintain social distancing, and the good thing about that is that students get more time from the instructor, whereas before the instructor had to split their time with a larger group.”

Safety has been important at TSTC throughout the coronavirus outbreak, and the safety standards do not stop once students leave the room.

“After labs are completed and the students have exited the building, the lab space is cleaned and sanitized by the instructor,” said Cabarubio. “Maintaining a clean and safe lab environment is our top priority.”

Although Culinary Arts students are required to participate in labs on campus, a large amount of their coursework is done remotely.

“All the coursework for the program is now uploaded to Moodle,” Cabarubio said. “This allows flexibility with the lecture aspect of the course, allowing students to complete those assessments remotely.”

Virtual labs are also being implemented in the program, with the instructor on campus and the students in their own kitchens.

“The instructor conducts the class through Google Meet,” Creps said. “Students are provided the ingredients for their labs. Pickups are done once a week, and ingredients they get are based on the class they are in. Students follow along virtually as the instructor demonstrates how to make a product, such as bread rolls, croissants, filleting a fish, and even the different ways to cook fish.”

Students are adapting well to the new way of learning.

“Students seem to be adjusting to the new learning environment,” Cabarubio said. “After the first week, they got a feel for the course structure, and they began making it part of their routine.”

To learn more about TSTC’s Culinary Arts program, visit


Photo caption: Culinary Arts instructors prepping for their virtual lab. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)


Faith helped TSTC student persevere

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Trials and tribulations come in many shapes and sizes. For recent Texas State Technical College graduate Gracie Arias, those trials and tribulations came when she was about to begin her second semester on the path to an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing.

That was when her doctor said, “The tumor is malignant.”

Now healthy and with her degree under her belt, Arias is ready to become a positive light for others in a field that helped save her life.

“I initially pursued nursing about 22 years ago,” she said. “At the time, I was married, and I had children. My husband and I also own a gym. So I put a pause on my nursing journey, and I directed my path toward raising my children and continuing with our business.”

Advice from her children, who have all received their college degrees, is what motivated her to reignite the flame for nursing that she had two decades ago.

“My children have already graduated,” she said. “Once they finished, they told me, ‘Mom, now it’s your turn.’”

Despite Arias’ excitement to begin her path to nursing, an extremely unexpected bump in the road tried to stop her.

“It stuns you when the medical personnel tell you that the tumor you have is malignant,” she said. “I asked if the surgery to remove the tumor could possibly wait until I was done with school because I was just going into my second semester of nursing. My doctor explained to me that this type of cancer grows very rapidly, and he wanted to operate immediately.”

Arias was determined to complete her degree and refused to let her diagnosis and treatment impact her time in the Nursing program.

“The surgery was successful,” she said. “I went through six chemotherapy sessions after my surgery. The chemo would knock me down for about two or three days at a time. But come that Monday when it was time for class, I was okay.”

Her resilience is something that her instructors saw for themselves.

“She is just awesome,” said program director Heather Sauceda. “She did not have any excuses for anything and gave it her all. She had a mentality of ‘let me do it’ and ‘I can do it.’ She was such a blessing to have in this program.”

Arias is also thankful for the comfort that her classmates provided, and for the support system she had at TSTC.

“All of our instructors are an amazing team,” she said. “The way that they want you to become the best nurse you can be shows that they genuinely care about their students. Our class was extremely close with one another.”

After graduating with a 4.0 GPA, Arias is ready to step into the health care field to help others in any way that she can.

“I truly believe that God was leading me because of the way everything played out,” she said. “I kept hearing a little voice telling me that everything was going to be okay. I know that I have been placed in this position to help people, and I fully believe that there is nothing we cannot conquer with faith, trust and perseverance.”

To learn more about TSTC’s Nursing program, visit

TSTC Graduate Profile: Miranda Perez

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Wanting to follow in her mother’s footsteps, Miranda Perez is ready to become a nurse. The compassion and caring that she witnessed her mother give to her patients inspired her to complete her certificate in Vocational Nursing at Texas State Technical College. Later, she hopes to obtain her Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing.

The Brownsville native knows that TSTC will equip her well for her career.

 Why did you decide to pursue this field?

I decided to pursue vocational nursing because I have always wanted to be able to help people. Growing up and watching my mom spread joy and love to her patients while helping them feel better made me want to be a nurse just like her. I am excited to be able to help patients not only feel healthier, but also happier.

Can you speak about your experience with TSTC?

My experience with TSTC has been amazing! I loved the instructors in my program. They helped us in every way possible and made sure we all knew they were there to help us become safe and knowledgeable nurses. Each morning they would greet us and say, “Good morning, future nurses!” And it never failed to make my day.

How has TSTC helped prepare you for your career?

TSTC, along with our program director, Ms. Sauceda, made it possible for me to prepare for my career by placing our cohort in amazing clinical sites. The hands-on experience allowed us to participate in providing care to patients using the knowledge we had gained throughout the year.

What has been your greatest sense of accomplishment to date?

My biggest accomplishment has been completing my certificate in Vocational Nursing during a pandemic and being able to make my family proud.

What words of advice would you give to others who are about to start their journey at TSTC?

My advice is to pick a program you are going to love. It might be trying and demand a lot of your time and attention, but don’t give up! The instructors will help every way they can by making themselves accessible. TSTC offers so much that helps you throughout your program. It will all be worth it in the end!

To learn more about TSTC, visit

TSTC welcomes first students to Electrical Lineworker program

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Electrical Lineworker Technology is well underway at Texas State Technical College.

The program, which began in Harlingen this semester, has seen much success at other TSTC campus locations, including in Fort Bend County.

“Students in the program have an astonishing placement rate at nearly 100 percent,” said department chair Eric Carithers.

The first group of students to take on the program in Harlingen began their journeys to becoming electrical lineworkers last week.

“We are all doing a great job of adjusting so far,” said Harlingen instructor Angel Toledo. “The first week of classes went really well. I am improving ways in which I can make the classes run smoothly for my students, and I am having a great time.”

Although classes are being taught differently now than before the pandemic, Toledo said he is doing his best to make sure that his students are learning as much as possible.

“A hybrid format is being implemented for this program,” Toledo said. “The lecture portion of the courses is being taught virtually through a Google Meet link,” he said. “Our lab sessions are face to face, with all safety protocols implemented.”

Those safety protocols include maintaining social distancing, wearing facial coverings, and following directional signs while on TSTC campuses.

Lab sessions for the program involve students using TSTC’s 100-pole outdoor lab, which was installed earlier this year.

“Students first visited the pole yard last Tuesday,” Toledo said. “They have three different lab sessions a week. They’re doing a great job.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the electrical lineworker field is projected to grow exponentially through 2028 because of population growth across the state.

To learn more about Electrical Lineworker Technology at TSTC, visit


TSTC begins fall semester after celebrating summer graduates virtually

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Texas State Technical College began the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 31.

While many of TSTC’s programs have transitioned to being taught completely online, there are still several being taught in a hybrid format, which allows for mandatory lab hours to be completed on campus. Safety standards maintained by TSTC include multilayered facial coverings being worn at all times, directional signs placed throughout every building, and at least six feet of social distancing practiced while on campus.

The fall semester began only a few days after over 100 students were virtually celebrated during TSTC’s digital commencement on Aug. 28.

TSTC staff encouraged students beginning the semester.

“Believe in yourself and what you can do,” said new student orientation coordinator Larissa Moreno. “This next semester may be more challenging than you hoped. But remember that at TSTC, we have your back.”

She also offered some words of wisdom for the students.

“Stay positive, have a plan, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and manage your time,” she said. “Study, and always do your best.”

Provost Cledia Hernandez recognizes that residents of the Rio Grande Valley have rallied together to get through the ongoing pandemic.

“We are excited to launch a new semester,” she said. “As a region, we continue to move forward and stay strong. Our students are ready to begin their next chapter, and they have answered the call to keep Texas thriving by enrolling at TSTC to prepare themselves to go into the workforce and become an integral part of rebuilding South Texas. We couldn’t be prouder.”

To learn more about TSTC’s coronavirus precautions, visit

To learn more about programs offered at TSTC, go to

TSTC Graduate Profile: Ashley Flores

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Navy veteran Ashley Flores knew that her career was not over after she concluded her time in the military. The Austin native received her Associate of Applied Science degree in Surgical Technology this summer, and she wants other veterans to know that they, too, can start a voyage in higher education.

Why did you decide to pursue surgical technology?

I thought it was fascinating to be able to assist in surgeries and save lives behind the scenes.

What was your experience like at TSTC?

My experience at TSTC was really great. The instructors in the program were wonderful. Mr. Sanchez, who is now retired, really impacted me in the program. I related to him a lot because he is also a veteran.

Do you have any favorite TSTC memories?

My favorite memory at TSTC is when my surgical tech classmates and my instructors had a Thanksgiving dinner at TSTC. We were like one big family. I will miss my instructors and classmates a lot, but I know they will be there when I need them, and they are just a phone call away.

What are your plans after TSTC?

I’ve recently been hired to work in the main operating room at DHR Health, where I am hoping to gain as much experience as I can. My goal is to grow in knowledge and reach the high bars I have set for myself.

What words of advice would you give to others who are about to start their educational journey at TSTC?

I would say that it is OK to start from scratch, not knowing what you want to do. Our paths change often until you find your way to your true journey. I’m a U.S. Navy veteran who was stationed in Japan for four years. When I got out of the military, I really didn’t know what to do. When I started college, I began to see that the military wasn’t the end of my journey and there was another chapter in my life to write. The advice I would like to give to my fellow veterans is not to let the hard days win. Only you can decide what breaks you. You have more courage than you know when you start your journey in higher education.


To learn about veteran services offered at TSTC, visit

TSTC programs receive upgrades, thanks to grant

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Thanks to a grant from the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation, the Emergency Medical Services and Dental Hygiene programs at Texas State Technical College received some welcome additions to better serve students.

Upgrades include adding top-of-the-line equipment to the real-world setting of the Dental Hygiene program, as well as an indoor ambulance simulator for the Emergency Medical Services program.

TSTC senior field development officer Richard Mesquias explained that the process of obtaining the simulator began with the desire to add a few technological improvements to the programs.

“The idea was to add another emergency medical services simulator,” he said. “We are deeply grateful to the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation for enabling us to enhance our Dental Hygiene program and our Emergency Medical Services efforts. Both programs were provided additional equipment to expand their labs in an effort to prepare students for the workforce.”

TSTC Associate Provost Jean Lashbrook said that the ambulance simulator is an additional way for the programs to ensure that TSTC students experience thorough and realistic training before entering their careers.

“We are always on the lookout for best practices in how our students can get a real-life feel of what will be expected and experienced in the field,” she said.

Emergency Medical Services program director Dan Forbing reiterated the statement.

“The simulator is very close to working in a real ambulance, all the way down to the dashboard,” he said.

The grant not only covered the simulator itself, but also the special flooring needed to allow for realistic road conditions.

The Dental Hygiene program was first introduced at TSTC in 1996, and much of the resources that students had been using were from that time frame.

Updates to complement the program include a new lab, radiology chair, radiology digital scanners, and a disinfection and sterilization system.

Dental Hygiene instructor Victoria Martin is thankful for the upgrades in the program.

“We provide patient care in our clinic,” she said. “Just like going to your doctor or dentist’s office, you want that place where you get treatment to look nice and clean. With new equipment, we are not only able to modernize our program, but also produce students with advanced technical skills.”

The new technology is another way that TSTC is giving students beneficial experience that will allow them to make a difference in their communities, something that the foundation strongly believes in.

“The Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation invests in healthy initiatives that will improve the health and quality of life in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Bernadette Perez, grants associate for the foundation. “We want to address health-related needs and close the skills gap in the Rio Grande Valley area specifically. It is important that the students are receiving all of the education that will fully prepare them to go into the workforce and make a difference in our area.”

The updates to both programs will allow TSTC students to do just that.

“I like being able to train students so well that they go out into the field absolutely confident,” Forbing said. “Our new equipment is a huge benefit to our students.”

To learn more about programs offered at TSTC, visit

Photo: TSTC Provost Cledia Hernandez (left) and Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation Executive Director Judy Quisenberry (right) during the check signing ceremony at TSTC on August 10, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Texas State Technical College.)



TSTC pinning parade celebrates Surgical Technology graduates

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Cars and trucks decorated with balloons and window art lined up across the Health Science and Technology Building parking lot at Texas State Technical College recently to celebrate the newest graduates of the Surgical Technology program.

While maintaining social distancing guidelines, one graduate at a time exited their vehicle and walked up to a tent, where they were presented with their surgical technology pin, a rose, and even a festive cookie to celebrate the occasion.

The original pinning ceremony, which was planned for early August, had to be canceled because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, the program instructors felt that the 28 graduates still needed to be celebrated.

“We knew we wanted to do something special for our students,” said Surgical Technology instructor Yolanda Ramirez. “We have been planning the pinning parade since the start of the summer semester.”

Like many TSTC students this year, this cohort had to adjust rapidly to the environmental changes of their program, including hybrid learning with online classes and in-person labs.

“Each of our students worked so hard to continue their education and achieve the goal of graduating from the Surgical Technology program,” said Ramirez. “This class had to quickly adapt to our current situation, and it was important that we honor their hard work.”

Surgical Technology program director Anna San Pedro added that this cohort is well equipped to leave their mark on the industry.

“The faculty and I send our most sincere well wishes to our students,” she said. “We are confident that our graduates will have a prosperous future, and we look forward to seeing their continued success in life and in the surgical technology industry.”

She said that teamwork was an effort that guided this class on the way to graduation.

“I always start a cohort by saying ‘we are a team until the end, and we will get through the program together, one step at a time,’” she said. “In the end, we become a family. Now these graduates have become part of the TSTC Surgical Technology alumni family.”

Registration for fall classes is underway. For more information, visit