Category Archives: Harlingen

TSTC Helping Hands fund gets Engineering student back on his feet after flood

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Isise Flores was working on homework one late night in June when he got hungry, went to the kitchen and stepped in a puddle of water.

For the 20-year-old Texas State Technical College student this puddle turned into knee-deep water that flooded an entire part of his family’s home, leaving a humble and hard-working group of people with destruction and loss.

“We work hard and are able to support our lives, but this was an event and expense that came out of nowhere,” said Flores. “We’ve been through storms, even hurricanes, and nothing like this has ever happened.”

It was an unexpected deluge of rain that brought flooding to many Cameron County residents, like Flores, that night in June.

Flores, who lives with his parents and younger brother and sister on the west side of Harlingen, said they all immediately began working together to move household items they could salvage to higher ground while the water continued to rise.TSTC Engineering student Isise Flores

“That night we lost almost everything. Everything we worked so hard for,” said the Harlingen resident. “Furniture, appliances, you name it, it was gone.”

Throughout his trials, Flores continued attending class, and it was one of his instructors that sent him an email that brought relief to him and his family.

At TSTC, students who are going through a difficult time financially and need assistance are eligible to receive money from The TSTC Foundation’s Helping Hands fund. And with nothing to lose, Flores applied and his prayers were answered.

Flores was awarded $1,000 to help with whatever his family needed. He said he divided it responsibly and was able to purchase insulation and sheetrock and still put money toward the purchase of new appliances such as a stove and refrigerator.

“This money was a huge help financially, but it also helped lift our spirits,” said Flores. “I thank the Lord and TSTC for this blessing. This really shows just how much TSTC cares for its students. Big help like this from a school is rare.”

Flores, who already holds an associate degree from TSTC Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics and is now pursuing his second degree in Engineering, said he is doing his family’s house restoration himself, appliances have been purchased and they were just recently able to get new furniture.

“All of this was possible because of yes, hard work, but because of TSTC,” he said. “I want to thank them for giving students like me this type of opportunity. They helped me get back on my feet.”

With this money Flores said he was able to stay focused on school and his assignments so he could continue working toward his dream of becoming a civil engineer or architect, a profession he has known was a perfect match since he was a child.

“I used to build club houses with hammers and nails or whatever I could get my hands on as a kid,” said Flores. “So being able to pursue a career in the field is exciting and TSTC has laid the foundation I need for a successful career.”

Flores said he will forever be grateful to TSTC for taking care of him and his family during their time of need.

“TSTC has not only opened doors of career opportunities, but also done so much more by helping my family,” he said. “I never expected that a college I attended would do this for their students, but TSTC has gone above and beyond their call of duty.”

For more information on how you can help more students, visit tstc.edu/tstcfoundation.  

TSTC EMS instructor returns to where it all started

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Ruben Ramirez was only 17-years-old when he began his career in Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and since then his passion for the field and training newer generations of EMS technicians and paramedics has only grown, leading him to Texas State Technical College.

The Harlingen native is a coordinator and instructor for TSTC’s EMS program, a program that has seen various transitions throughout the years, but remains steadfast at filling a local, statewide and national skills gap.

It was at TSTC where it all began for Ramirez. He earned his Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certificate in 1997 and worked nearly 10 years with Valley Baptist Medical Center as an emergency room technician.

“It’s great being back at the place that kick started my career,” said the 41-year-old. “It was a perfect match because I get to do what I love, while sharing my experience and knowledge with others.”

In 2004, Ramirez returned to TSTC and received his paramedic certificate and later in 2016, he earned an associate degree in EMS through TSTC’s Abilene campus.

“TSTC has seen me through my career,” he said. “The EMS program has always had a great reputation and I’m excited to be a part of that on the instructor side now.”

Prior to TSTC, Ramirez worked more than a decade in the field with Willacy County EMS in his hometown of Raymondville and with South Texas Emergency Care (STEC) in Harlingen.

TSTC EMS Instructor Ruben Ramirez

It was at STEC where Ramirez’s career flourished. He began as a field medic, then was promoted to supervisor, before also receiving an additional certification as a fixed wing airplane and helicopter flight medic.

“This career is a life-changer,” he said. “I first got into this profession as a teen because I thought lights and sirens were cool, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about saving lives and being someone’s support while they experience one of the most difficult times in their lives.”

While serving with STEC, Ramirez decided to return to TSTC in 2010 as a part-time fire academy and EMS instructor; and only recently decided it was time to trade an ambulance for a classroom.

It was the program’s most recent transition from a continuing education course to a program that now offers certificates and associate degrees that encouraged Ramirez to s

tay at the college.

“I’m excited to be part of a program that is moving forward,” said Ramirez. “And the support our program has received from TSTC leadership and administration has allowed us to advance our technologies and produce highly-skilled and trained graduates.”

Not only do EMS students have the opportunity to now get a certificate or associate degree, but they also get to train on industry-standard, state-of-the-art simulation equipment and tools such as a simulated ambulance, simulated vitals monitors and medications, and a mock emergency room.

“Things have changed since I was a student. I wish I had everything we offer now, back then,” he said. “Students can now have access to and can become familiar with almost every basic piece of equipment before even touching it out in the field. That’s a huge advantage to have as a student. Employers look for that kind of training.”

Ramirez said as an instructor his goal is to not only continue growing the program, but also helping students grow into successful EMS professionals.

“We have a great team of experienced paramedics teaching students in this program,” said Ramirez. “And I hope that our students take away from our experiences and knowledge that we share and apply them to their careers to provide empathetic, compassionate patient care.”

As for Ramirez, he is a TSTC student again. When he is not teaching, he is working on completing prerequisite courses for his bachelor’s degree in Emergency Health Sciences.

“TSTC has always been there for me and my family,” he said. “It allowed me to enter into a successful career as an EMS technician, paramedic and now instructor. I hope that I can give back to this college as much as it has given to me.”

Ramirez’s wife, Yolanda Ramirez, is also a TSTC graduate and an instructor for the Surgical Technology program at TSTC. Which is why Ramirez calls the college “a family affair.”

TSTC’s EMT and paramedic programs are accepting applications for the Spring semester. Information sessions are held every Tuesday.

Emergency Medical Services is also offered at TSTC’s Abilene and Brownwood campuses.

For more information, visit tstc.edu/programs/EmergencyMedicalServices.

On the road to success: TSTC Auto Collision & Management Technology

From independent body shops to high-profile dealerships – auto technicians, repairers and painters are in demand, with Texas’ projected job openings to be at more than 14,000 by 2026 according to O*Net Online.

And TSTC, with its Auto Collision & Management Technology program, is ready to meet industry demand.TSTC Auto Collision Technology

TSTC Auto Collision & Management Technology department lead and instructor Jose Vasquez said the increased need for technicians is a result of advancing automobile technology.

“Technicians are either retiring or not evolving with technology, and that gives our students a leg up in the industry because our students are learning how to handle the latest in automobile technology, along with the foundations this industry is based on,” said Vasquez.

Vasquez goes on to explain how TSTC is getting its students industry and job-ready.

What is the length of the program?

The program length ranges from two to four semesters, or one to two years.

What can a student expect when they graduate?

A student in this program has various pathways to choose from: Certificate 1, Certificate 2, associate degree or advanced technical certificate in refinishing or repair specializations. They can also earn additional certifications such as the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) level one certification.

What skills do you learn in Auto Collision & Management Technology?

The skills learned in the program expand a wide scope in auto body repair and refinishing, painting, welding, collision repair estimation, structural analysis and sectioning, wheel alignment and business English and math.

What types of technologies are used to learn these skills?

Students in the program have access to industry-standard software, equipment and tools such as paint mixing systems, alignment machines, velocity measuring systems, diagnostic machinery and repair estimation software.

How do these skills prepare a student for the workforce?

Hands-on learning with tools and equipment that are found in industry gives students a big advantage when applying for jobs. Employers are looking for certified technicians who are job-ready and need little to no on-the-job training. So the skills they learn in the program make them more marketable and ready to be hired.

What kind of positions can a graduate from this program obtain?

Graduates from this program can work as auto body technicians, structural technicians, auto body painters and estimators and work anywhere from dealerships and auto collision shops to marine sites, aerospace and insurance companies.

TSTC graduates have been hired by local dealerships such as Boggus Ford and Hacienda Ford, Greyhound and United Launch Alliance.

TSTC building construction lays a foundation of success for students

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The construction industry is booming and continuing to add jobs, but with growth comes the need for a skilled workforce. And Texas State Technical College’s Building Construction Technology is diligently working to fill the skills gap.

TSTC Building Construction Technology lead instructor Rick Vargas said the industry demand is so high that program faculty regularly receive phone calls from industry partners looking to recruit students and alumni.TSTC Building Construction Technology

“This field is expanding regionally, statewide and beyond,” said Vargas. “As this continues, opportunities for our students and graduates will only increase. They’re already in demand.”

He added that with the set of skills students learn in the program, they are able to work in any area of the field, from laborer and worker to inspector and manager, with an expected salary range of $40,000 to $90,000 a year, according to https://www.onetonline.org.

What is the length of the program?

Building Construction Technology offers two pathways: Certificate 1, which is three semesters, and an Associate of Applied Science degree, which is five semesters.

What can students expect when they graduate?

They can expect to be well-rounded in all aspects of construction — residential and commercial — and be job-ready. Graduates from the program also have the opportunity of obtaining entry-level to managerial positions.

And an advantage for TSTC’s Building Construction Technology graduates is that the program is the only one in the Rio Grande Valley to offer additional certifications in building codes, forklift, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration 30-Hour Construction Training.  

What skills do students learn in Building Construction Technology?

Students in the program learn skills and become familiar with the areas of construction that include floor, wall and roof framing; exterior and interior finishes; insulation installation; carpentry, concrete mixing and pouring; and painting.

They are able to practice these skills by working on real-world projects that are sold to the community. In the past they have worked on gazebos, sheds, deer blinds, doghouses and wooden ice chests.

What types of technologies are used to learn these skills?

A student in the program has access to a workshop that is stocked with industry-standard power tools and equipment, both mobile and stationary. They also have the opportunity to work on construction management software, thermal cameras, and a drone for ground mapping.

How do these skills prepare a student for the workforce?

A graduate from Building Construction Technology is ready to hit the ground running when they enter the workforce. They are knowledgeable in the many aspects of construction and can work as construction managers, first-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction, construction laborers, and construction and building inspectors.

What types of positions can a graduate from this program obtain?

Graduates from this program have gone on to build careers with local and statewide companies such as Noble Texas Builders, SpawGlass, Couric Enterprises, Origo Works, and Morton Buildings.

    

TSTC automotive student gets to practice his skills for AEP

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Texas State Technical College Automotive Technology student Hugo Villanueva never thought college would be in his future, much less a cooperative (co-op) education learning experience with American Electric Power (AEP).

The San Benito native who expects to earn his certificate in Automotive Technology in Spring 2020 is working 20 hours per week at AEP’s San Benito location as a co-op fleet technician conducting oil changes, automotive diagnosis and troubleshooting, hydraulic repair, among other preventative maintenance.

Through this educational experience, Villanueva is supervised, evaluated and paid by the employer, and receives course credit for his work.

“This has been an amazing experience and opportunity for me,” said the 28-year-old. “I’m sure this is going to look great on my resume and give me an advantage when I begin applying for jobs soon.”TSTC Automotive Technology student

The co-op position is only for the Fall 2019 semester, but Villanueva said although he’s approaching his job hunt with an open mind, he hopes to gain permanent employment with AEP in the near future.

“This is my chance to make a great first impression,” he said. “My foot is in the door and I am working hard and honing my skills and passion for the field. I want them to see what I’m made of.”

AEP lead technician and Villanueva’s director supervisor Mario Tovar said it was Villanueva’s military experience – he served five years as a U.S. Marine – mechanic experience, and knowledge of the field that left an impression and eventually got him hired for the co-op position.

“Villanueva already shows a great deal of knowledge in the field. He’s well versed,” said Tovar. “He’s a hustler, self-starter and I never have to worry about him getting his work done. From what I see, he’s going to go a long way in the industry and be very successful.”

Tovar also mentioned that since the inception of the co-op partnership between TSTC and AEP nearly six years ago, the company has been impressed with the participating students and their skills.

“We’ve had an excellent experience working with these TSTC students who enter the co-op program,” said Tovar. “They are ready to work and knowledgeable in the field, and this is a great way to help them gain the experience they need. It really is a win-win all around and we hope to continue this program for years to come.”

As for Villanueva, he said it was his wife who convinced and encouraged him to return to school, and he’s glad she did.

“I’ve received opportunities I could have never imagined and it’s all because I came to TSTC,” he said. “Because what I am doing is to give my family a better future so we can continue moving forward.”

Tovar said he is thankful that all of his instructors take an active approach in their students’ learning and job placement because it makes all the difference.

“This isn’t just a hobby for me or a way to stay busy, this is my livelihood and a way to support my family,” said Tovar. “And I am excited that I’ll be able to do that while doing something I’ve always had a passion for and that TSTC is helping me get there.”

Automotive Technology is also offered at TSTC’s Sweetwater and Waco campuses.

For more information, visit https://tstc.edu/programs/AutomotiveTechnology.

TSTC Wind Energy Technology changes alum’s outlook on life

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Froilan Gaitan began his college career at Texas State Technical College with the idea of transferring to pursue a bachelor’s degree. But somewhere between dream and reality, he realized that a technical education could pay off big and chose to pursue Wind Energy Technology.

“This was a huge move for me,” said the 32-year-old. “After reflecting on my career choice and the path I was following, I wasn’t where I wanted to be. And I felt returning to TSTC could change that.”Froilan Gaitan Wind Energy Technology alum

After completing his academic requirements for a bachelor’s degree in sociology, he took time off from school so he could work to help his mom.

“My mom was a single mom, and my siblings and I were her top priority every single step of the way,” said Gaitan. “I always told myself that when I grew up, I would take care of her the way she did us.”

But odd jobs here and there were not cutting it for the Mercedes native. That’s when he began doing research on different careers and their outlooks, which led him to TSTC Wind Energy Technology.

“Renewable energy is growing fast, is here to stay, and technicians are in demand,” he said he remembered reading. “So I returned to TSTC and enrolled. I never looked back.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of wind technicians is expected to grow 57% through 2028, and because of the wind industry’s rapid growth, the number of available jobs is expected to be over 6,000.

And with an average salary of around $54,000 a year, Gaitan knew this could be a life-changer.

“Nothing worth getting in life is easy, and this was one of those instances,” said Gaitan. “I was barely getting by, but I kept the prize in mind, and that helped me to keep going.”

As a full-time student in the Wind Energy Technology program, Gaitan worked three part-time jobs to make ends meet.

One of those jobs was at TSTC as a work-study employee in Central Receiving. Gaitan said it was there that he met TSTC inventory control supervisor Ruben Ochoa.

“Ruben was my inspiration,” he said. “He would motivate me, encourage me, and get mad at me when he knew I was in the wrong. He wanted nothing more than to see me succeed, and that made all of the difference.”

Gaitan said in addition to Ochoa being a positive role model, his instructors also played a huge part in his success.

“Our instructors helped us be the best we could be,” he said. “They never denied us help. They led us to resources if we needed assistance and made sure we were job-ready.”

While it was no easy feat for Gaitan and there were times he said he felt like giving up, he finally graduated with an associate degree in Wind Energy Technology in Spring 2018, and he already has a stable career.

He works as a traveling wind technician with BHI Energy and is currently stationed at the Los Vientos wind farm in Rio Grande City.

“I have had the opportunity to see places I never thought I would, but I’m fortunate to be back home,” said Gaitan. “Everything leading up to this has been quite a journey, but it was worth it.”

Gaitan said he can now fulfill the promise he made at a young age to take care of his mom, and he hopes everything he has done has left a positive impact on his siblings, and anyone else who may be in his situation.

“I can only go up from here, and I plan to learn as much as possible so that I can begin to advance in my career,” he said. “And I hope that my story not only inspires my family, but also others who may think education is impossible. Because I’m here to say that if I can do it, so can you.”

For more information on Wind Energy Technology, visit https://tstc.edu/programs/WindEnergyTechnology.  

TSTC, Mueller Co. receive TWC skills grant for workforce training

By Amanda Sotelo

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – A Texas Workforce Commission grant will allow Texas State Technical College and Mueller Co. at its Brownsville location to advance the technical skills of more than 80 Mueller Co. employees through workforce training provided by TSTC.

Bryan Daniel, TWC’s chairman and commissioner representing the public, on Wednesday presented both organizations with a Skills Development Fund grant in the amount of $107,705.

“TSTC is at the forefront of employer and student success,” said TSTC Provost Cledia Hernandez. “It’s a privilege and honor to be part of transforming a major segment in our local manufacturing.”TSTC, Mueller Co. receive TWC Skills Development Fund grant

The training for Mueller Co. employees began earlier this month. It is administered by TSTC Workforce Training and Continuing Education at the Mueller site and includes Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10-hour safety training, as well as courses in basic math, basic machining, troubleshooting of electrical and motor systems, introduction to Microsoft Excel, pneumatics and hydraulics.

Sergio Marroquin, manufacturing manager at Mueller Co., said TSTC’s ability to provide the technical training they require to meet their company’s goals encouraged the partnership.

“TSTC knows and understands the fundamentals and advances in technical training,” said Marroquin. “We know that TSTC makes things happen, and over the next year our employees will receive the training they need to achieve success within our company.”

Daniel views Skills Development Fund grants as an investment back into the community.

“These grants allow employers to help their employees advance their skills and opportunities,” he said. “These trainings can help lead an employee to an increased salary or promotion, which in turn strengthens our communities.”

He added that having the opportunity to partner with top-notch institutions like TSTC ensures that every partnership’s needs will be met and training will continue for generations to come.

Over the next year, Marroquin said they will work closely with TSTC in growing this newly formed partnership.

“We look forward to growing with TSTC and building upon the customized training we’ve created,” he said. “We will continue to advance the skills of our employees, and with TSTC’s help we will stay up to date on all of the latest advances in technical skills training.”

Based in Tennessee, Mueller Co. manufactures fire hydrants, gate valves and other water distribution products.

For more information on the services provided by TSTC Workforce Training and Continuing Education, visit https://tstc.edu/workforce/home.

TSTC HVAC Technology creates cool careers in a hot job market

By Amanda Sotelo

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The demand for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians is high and continues to grow as the number of residential and commercial sites increases.

And Texas State Technical College is working diligently to meet industry demand and fill the jobs that are vacated as people retire.

TSTC HVAC Technology

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for HVAC mechanics and installers is increasing by 13 percent, faster than average, and will have more than 46,000 jobs available nationwide by 2028.

“In the RGV alone, construction is booming. Imagine that tenfold across the state,” said TSTC HVAC Technology instructor Jorge Cabrera. “This is leading to greater opportunities for our students, and we’re training them right here at TSTC.”

Cabrera went on to explain that HVAC systems are becoming more complex as technology advances, and TSTC is training its students to master those skills and more to give t

hem a leg up in the industry.

What is the length of the program?

The program offers two pathways: Certificate 1, which is three semesters, and an associate degree, which is five semesters.

What can a student expect when they graduate?

When a student graduates from the program with either a certificate or degree, they will also hold an EPA608 refrigerant certificate and an employment-ready certificate, which recognizes the mastery of industry-standard HVAC equipment and skills.

Both additional certifications can mean more job opportunities, promotions and a salary increase.

What skills do you learn in HVAC Technology?

In the program, students learn all of the fundamental basics of heating, air condit

ioning and refrigeration, such as basic electricity for HVAC; refrigeration principles; mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems in construction; air conditioning installation and troubleshooting; and residential air conditioning systems design.

As the program transitions to performance-based education in Fall 2020, students can expect to work toward mastering skills quicker to graduate sooner.

What types of technologies are used to learn these skills?

TSTC is constantly working with advisory boards, made of industry partners, to stay up to date on the latest technologies in the field. In HVAC Technology, students have access to industry-standard tools and equipment like Bluetooth gauges; phone and tables application downloads for reporting; air conditioning, refrigeration and heating units; and online video content and three-dimensional simulators.

How do these skills prepare a student for the workforce?

A company’s goal is to hire an already technically trained and licensed graduate who will need little to no on-the-job training, so the skills students learn in this program through hands-on learning prepare them to enter the workforce ready as entry-level technicians. By the time they graduate, they are familiar with what’s expected in industry, familiar with equipment and tools and how to troubleshoot, diagnose, repair and service all types of HVAC units. This makes them more marketable and leads them into successful careers.

What kinds of positions can a graduate from this program obtain?

Graduates from HVAC Technology can become heating, air conditioning and refrigeration technicians, mechanics and installers, and can work in schools, hospitals, and residential and commercial HVAC and refrigeration companies.

Companies that have hired TSTC HVAC Technology graduates range from Central Air and Heating, Coca-Cola, George Cunningham Air Conditioning and Heating, Southern Mechanical LLC, and Trane Heating and Cooling.

TSTC gives student spark of hope during dark time

By Amanda Sotelo

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Fifteen inches of water took it all from Texas State Technical College student Nelda Chavez and her family.

“The only way to describe the situation is devastating and overwhelming,” said the 52-year-old.  “The image and smell of the mess and debris still haunts me.”

The family returned to their home barely a week ago; the massive amount of rain and flooding that devastated their home occurred in June.

TSTC student Nelda Chavez

Chavez’s family has gone from living in a hotel to a compact-size travel trailer while working nonstop to repair their home and replace ruined appliances and furniture.

All of the cleanup, as well as the majority of the rebuilding, was completed by Chavez and her family.

“It’s been quite a process, and a lot of money we do not have,” said Chavez. “We were blessed to have been helped by the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and TSTC.”

The TSTC Foundation’s Snyder Helping Hands fund awarded Chavez $1,000 to put toward the rebuilding and restoration of her home.

The fund was created to assist TSTC students during times of need — to help get them back on their feet and focused on their education toward a great-paying career.

“The money we received was our first form of assistance after the flood, and that allowed us to purchase all of the cleaning supplies we needed to dry up our home and for food,” she said. “Without this money, there is no way we could have done it.”

Chavez added that receiving the money was their first step in recovery. Because she is a full-time pre-nursing student, she and her family rely heavily on her husband’s income.

“I’m so grateful for the help TSTC provided me and my family,” she said. “The money went a long way, and (TSTC was) my light of hope during this difficult situation.”

The flood could have been a devastating setback for Chavez’s education had she not received help from TSTC.

“This is the kind of event that makes someone reflect, dig deep and question what they’re doing,” said Chavez. “I wanted to quit and work to help my husband, but this money saved me from that. And here I am, still going strong. TSTC needs to know how much that means to me.”

Chavez said that after receiving her money, she did extensive research into other services and resources TSTC offers because she was impressed with the amount of help it provides its students.

“I’m sure I’m not the only one who TSTC has helped and allowed to continue working toward their dream,” she said. “Overall, this has taught me not to take anything for granted and that there is always hope.”

To learn more about helping students like Chavez, visit tstcfoundation.com.

From foster care to college: Mechatronics Technology student gets new perspective at TSTC

By Amanda Sotelo

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Texas State Technical College student Madison Freeman is a long way from her hometown of Sulphur Springs, Texas, and her move to the Rio Grande Valley was inspired by TSTC’s Mechatronics Technology program. 

As a woman who grew up in the foster care system, being a college student is a dream come true.

“I moved from house to house until my grandmother was able to gain custody of me. But no matter what happened, college remained in the forefront,” said the 18-year-old. “And it was all somehow a blessing in disguise.”

At a young age, Freeman took an interest in robotics, engineering and how things work. So throughout junior high and high school, she focused on learning just that.

“This field (mechatronics) is so intriguing to me, and I’m happy to finally be at TSTC pursuing it as a career,” Freeman said. “I love breaking things apart and studying their complexities and mechanics, and my family knows that. So even though they were skeptical about me moving, they knew this was something I had to pursue.”

TSTC Mechatronics Technology student Madison Freeman

Before graduating from high school, Freeman competed in SkillsUSA’s state and national competitions in the Robotics: Urban Search and Rescue Challenge, placing in the top three statewide and earning a $1,500 scholarship from TSTC and the SkillsUSA organization for her achievement.

SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help high school and college students pursue successful careers. 

Freeman said that in addition to the scholarship she received from TSTC and SkillsUSA, she receives assistance through a state foster care higher education program.

“All of the help I’ve received is a big deal for me,” she said. “It’s allowing me to follow my dreams.”

Freeman said that as a woman in a male-dominated field, her goal is to break barriers and help other women find their place in the industry without fear of failure.

“This is a man’s world, but if you take a look, more and more women are joining the industry. And we are just as successful,” she said. “And I want other women to come into this field confident and strong, because there are a number of opportunities for us.”

Freeman is starting out her college career with clear goals of what she wants to achieve, from stellar grades to a first-place spot at SkillsUSA nationals. She also hopes someday to make a difference as an inventor of new technology for the medical and educational fields.

“I’m excited for what’s to come and to see where I go,” said Freeman. “TSTC has given me a new perspective on my future.”

After receiving her associate degree in Mechatronics Technology, Freeman hopes to earn additional degrees at TSTC in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics and Digital Media Design to become a well-rounded inventor.

For more information on Mechatronics Technology at TSTC, visit https://tstc.edu/programs/MechatronicsTechnology.