Category Archives: Harlingen

TSTC Nursing instructor wants graduates to be equipped, passionate

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Texas State Technical College Nursing instructor Lisa Van Cleave has one goal for graduates of the program in Sweetwater.

“We want to turn out safe RNs who are highly equipped and passionate,” she said.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing at its Sweetwater and Harlingen campuses, and Van Cleave said 34 students are enrolled at the Sweetwater campus this summer. She expects to have 35 enrolled this fall.

“Our program in Sweetwater is different because the students are coming in as LVNs,” Van Cleave said.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Van Cleave said she hopes more licensed vocational nurses consider becoming registered nurses.

“Once you become an RN, that opens the gate wider for you professionally,” she said.

Van Cleave and her fellow instructors are committed to student success.

“We highly emphasize passing the National Council Licensure Examination. We want to prepare our students to pass the exam the first time they take it,” she said.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas had 251,253 registered nurses as of September 2019, the latest statistical information available. Texas leads the nation in the number of registered nurses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to more interest in nursing, which has always been a profession that changes with the times.

“Everything seems to be changing on a daily basis during this pandemic,” Van Cleave said. “It has helped us in the fact that we are able to get a better look at our curriculum.”

TSTC also offers a certificate in Vocational Nursing at the Breckenridge, Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses. 

For more information on the Nursing program, visit

TSTC online learning an option in times of social distancing

The current global pandemic has kept many students outside of the classroom and in their homes to continue their education. In response to this, Texas State Technical College has adjusted several programs to make them completely online while still maintaining the same standards that TSTC is known for.

Associate Vice President of Distance Learning Gina Cano-Monreal discussed the remote learning options available for students at TSTC.

What are the benefits of distance learning?

 There are numerous benefits to TSTC online learning programs and courses. TSTC online programs and courses are of equal value to the accredited quality curriculum offered in face-to-face programs.

The online courses are designed and taught by faculty who are subject-matter experts in their fields and who have relevant, real-world experience. TSTC online faculty are always an email or phone call away. They are committed to supporting students along their educational journey.

Convenience is another benefit. Online courses still have deadlines, but most coursework can be completed when it is most convenient for students and their schedules.

What kind of support do these students receive?

TSTC online students are entitled to the same support services as TSTC’s on-campus students. Online students are provided these services via a variety of methods.

Is distance learning at TSTC going to continue to grow?

 TSTC will continue to grow its online offerings. Prior to the current pandemic, TSTC offered four of its programs entirely online. As a response to current circumstances, TSTC is offering 19 of its programs entirely online in addition to an increased number of online courses. Looking past the fall semester, TSTC will be working with programs and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the college’s accrediting agency, to ensure that the increased number of programs selected for online development and delivery meet our TSTC online quality and accreditation standards.

To learn more about distance learning at TSTC, visit


TSTC Board of Regents honor graduate finds success in distance learning

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – In recent months the world has gone digital. Learning from home has become the new normal, and that new normal means that even though students may be many miles from a Texas State Technical College campus, they can still receive quality technical instruction.

El Paso resident and New Jersey native Emily Mancini recently became a TSTC Board of Regents honor graduate on her quest to obtain an Associate of Applied Science degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology. While her initial goal was to graduate with a 4.0 GPA, the feat was not a simple one.

“Working full time while maintaining a household wasn’t easy,” she said. “Thankfully I was able to take nine credit hours a semester. I wasn’t too overworked, and I could still focus on performing well with all my assignments.”

Mancini’s journey into biomedical equipment technology started in 2014, when she began her education in the U.S. Army. She began working in the field in El Paso the following year.

“I came across TSTC while in search of transferring those credits I had already earned to a state school to complete my associate degree,” she explained. “It took me a few years to get the drive to go back to school, but once I did, I wish I had gone sooner.”

Currently, her occupation as a biomedical equipment technician is keeping her busy.

“I maintain, repair, and calibrate medical equipment technology throughout my hospital, urgent care facilities, and over 30 outlying clinics.”

Despite living in El Paso, her daily commute across state lines into Las Cruces, New Mexico, gives her an opportunity to clear her mind every morning and evening.

“It’s about a 45-minute drive,” she said. “It’s mostly all highway. It’s nice not having to deal with much traffic, and I get to enjoy some alone time.”

Mancini offered words of encouragement for future TSTC students who might follow in her footsteps of graduating with honors.

“Speaking as someone who is not coming right out of high school, it takes definite motivation to want to go back to school,” she said. “It takes even more motivation to graduate with honors, but it is worth it. Be proud of your accomplishments and determination. Don’t settle for ‘well, this is good enough, I just need to pass.’ Do the best you can, and make time to achieve your goals.”

Fall registration is currently underway. To learn more, visit

Associate provost celebrates 24 years at TSTC

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Jean Lashbrook was 19 when she knew she wanted to change lives serving in the medical field. Her journey as an emergency medical technician and a registered nurse led her to her current role: an associate provost at Texas State Technical College.

“I was recruited by a friend who was working at TSTC at the time,” she recalled. “There was an opening for a registered nurse in the Nursing program, and she kept pushing me to apply. I was content in my position at a public health agency. But after several nudges from her, I applied, was hired, and never looked back. It was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.”

Before becoming associate provost, Lashbrook served as TSTC’s Allied Health division director and prior to that as Nursing Division director, which enabled her to meet TSTC colleagues across the state.

“I have learned so much,” she said. “I am still learning and growing, thanks to TSTC.”

This August, Lashbrook will celebrate 24 years of leaving an impact at TSTC — years in which she has influenced the lives of students, and vice versa.

“One of my best memories is of a student who was being pulled in many different directions by his family,” she said. “They did not think that college was necessary. A couple years after he completed school, he came back in his Border Patrol uniform to show me he went the right way with his education. I was extremely proud of him. I still am.”

Lashbrook’s wisdom in the field of health care has not only helped patients she has met in her career, but also benefited students she has met in the classroom.

“The most enjoyable times I had in the classroom were when I was able to see the light come on when students had an excitement to learn about health care,” she said. “When I worked with dual enrollment students, it was so amazing to see the maturity level from day one up until they completed the program. Watching a 17-year-old student find their passion for what they want to do in life is the best.”

Her guidance did not leave students once they exited the classroom.

“I have watched many of them take care of patients in nursing homes with such care,” she said. “I could tell it was the best life choice for them to pursue.”

With many students starting college at TSTC this fall, she offered her advice for success.

“TSTC is the best-kept secret in the Valley,” she said. “I have worked many years with amazing colleagues who give everything possible to their students. At TSTC, you are not just a number — you are TSTC family. I have always been extremely proud to recruit, teach, mentor and represent this college. I started my education at TSTC and finished my prerequisites here for my degree in nursing. I am TSTC.”

Fall registration is currently underway. To become part of the TSTC family, visit


TSTC alumnus designs equipment for West Texas oil field companies

(ABILENE, Texas) – Sheryl Givens turned a lifelong passion into a career.

Since graduating from Texas State Technical College with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology in 2018, Givens has worked as a designer for SCS Technologies in Big Spring.

“I have always been interested in construction,” Given said. “Growing up, I liked drawing things on a day-by-day basis.”

At SCS Technologies, Givens designs equipment for West Texas oil field companies. The company specializes in programmable logic controller-based systems, control panel fabrication, and custody transfer liquid measurements.

Givens said being part of the TSTC program prepared her for this career.

“Throughout the years, I have admired all the strong work ethic and personal integrity of the field,” she said. “I appreciated all the help from TSTC, which led me to become a motivated and driven professional with a high level of leadership and initiative, as well as excellent analytical, organizational, and problem-solving skills.”

She said TSTC instructors prepared her for a career as a designer.

“They helped me find challenging career opportunities where knowledge, skills, and experience can be effectively utilized with organizations offering opportunities for professional growth and advancement,” Givens said.

The drafting and design program is available at the Abilene, Brownwood, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater, and Waco campuses.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Business Management Technology instructor brings experience into the classroom

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – You might say that Texas State Technical College Business Management Technology instructor Duston Brooks brings some practical experience of a bovine nature into the classroom.

Prior to becoming an instructor at TSTC, Brooks worked on the financial side of his family’s dairy farm. He now brings that knowledge to his students as they work toward an Associate of Applied Science degree or certificate in Business Management Technology.

“I learned the financial side of things and how to use the software,” said Brooks, who has taught at TSTC since 2000.

When Brooks first started teaching, TSTC offered a degree in Computer Information Technology. It is now the five-semester Business Management Technology degree program.

Students learn three areas of business management. Brooks said the first part of the program focuses on accounting, followed by management and then software.

“Anybody who works at a computer desk at any business will benefit from this program,” he said.

Students learn a variety of skills, including word processing, presentation graphics, accounting, and business ethics, principles of accounting and management, small business operations, and payroll accounting.

“You will benefit from a well-rounded education,” Brooks said, adding that some graduates continue their education by earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

In addition to on-campus classes, TSTC’s Business Management Technology program is available online, which helps some students, Brooks said.

“We know that people are working and have kids. This gives them the feasibility to complete the program online and at their own pace,” he said.

Brooks said one student completed the course while being employed as a full-time truck driver.

“He could not attend a class on campus, so he took his laptop with him,” he said. “Whenever he had time off the road, he would work on his online classes.”

During his tenure at TSTC, Brooks has seen students of all ages complete the program.

“We have had students just out of high school to adults in their 50s and 60s. Some people want to come back and relearn skills or even learn brand-new skills in order to update their resume,” he said.

Completing the program, according to Brooks, allows graduates to interview for office management positions. He said through hard work, some graduates have worked their way up to higher positions.

Brooks has also had students who wanted to start their own business.

“There are people from our program working in small towns and bigger cities,” he said. “Students who want to move up from a physically challenging job can take our program to get them in a better office or management position.”

Business Management Technology is available at the Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood, Harlingen, and Marshall campuses.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC student graduates with honors while working full time

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – After a perfect first semester at Texas State Technical College, Jianina Sells knew that she could finish the remainder of her years as a Health Information Technology student on the same note. Not only was the Raymondville native able to graduate as a TSTC Board of Regents honor graduate, but she was also able to do it while maintaining a full-time job.

Was it your goal to graduate as a Board of Regents scholar?

When I started college, I never thought that I would graduate with honors. It wasn’t really a goal of mine until the end of my first semester, when I saw that I finished with straight A’s. I’ve always been determined to succeed at anything I set my mind to, so once I decided I wanted to graduate with a 4.0 GPA, I gave it my all and refused to let myself fail.

Were there any challenges you faced while on your journey to a 4.0 GPA?

I was employed full time when I was a student. Working 40 hours a week and being enrolled in college full time was difficult to say the least. I studied during any breaks I had and from the time I got home up until I went to sleep. Balancing my personal life, work and school was challenging.

Why did you decide to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Health Information Technology?

I have been a pharmacy technician since 2013. So I knew if I was going to change my career, I still wanted to stay in health care. I would hear about health information technology programs on the radio, and one day I decided to look into it. I’d heard great things about the online Health Information Technology program that TSTC offers, so I decided to apply.

Who at TSTC had a great impact on you?

My Health Information Technology instructors Katrina Stotts, Randa Weeks and Joni Wallace were always there for me to answer questions I had or clear up anything I was confused about. There were times I would call Ms. Stotts or Ms. Wallace multiple times a day, and they always answered. I love these instructors. Without them, I probably wouldn’t have made it.

What advice would you give to incoming TSTC students who also hope to finish college as Board of Regents honor graduates?

Study hard, but make sure to take breaks. Take notes, and if you think you might not understand, read the chapter again. Make flash cards, and reach out to your instructors. Talk to them about your assignments, and don’t be afraid to speak up.

TSTC Board of Regents Honor Graduate Profile: Mauricio Cruz

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA is no easy task. Graduating with one after serving your country in the U.S. Marines is even harder.

However, for San Benito native Mauricio Cruz, commitment, focus and determination are second nature. Those attributes helped Cruz become one of the few Texas State Technical College students to finish his degree as a TSTC Board of Regents honor graduate.

“I don’t think I ever grew accustomed to the school environment,” he said. “That was the biggest challenge, especially after coming from a military background.”

Cruz was on active duty from 2012 to 2016 before being honorably discharged as a corporal in the Marines.

“I was attached to a unit named Marine Corps Security Forces,” he said of his time in Virginia. “I served as platoon armorer.”

While a military background did pose a challenge in terms of his environment, he kept in mind that the key to success in college was maintaining a keen focus on academics.

“I knew that all I had to do was study, do my homework and pay attention.”

Cruz’s love of the outdoors inspired him to earn an associate degree in agricultural technology.

“I have always enjoyed agriculture, such as cattle and the outdoors,” he said. “I figured if I was going to start college, it would have to be for something I enjoy.”

Cruz’s journey to the finish line would not have been the same without an instructor who had quite an impact on him.

“Mr. (Sammy) Gavito was hands down the best Instructor I have ever had,” Cruz said. “Not just as a teacher, but as a person, he was just amazing and very passionate when he would pass down his knowledge to his students.”

While Cruz dedicated earlier years in service to his country, he is not quite done yet.

“I hope to one day work for U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” he said. “It is not a short process, but it is something I will be striving for.”

With many students getting ready to start college in the fall, Cruz offered advice on how they too can achieve a perfect 4.0 GPA.

“Pay attention in class, take notes, do your homework and stay focused,” he said. “Do that, and you will be just fine.”

Cruz’s hobbies do not stray too far from what he was studying.

“I enjoy my time off caring for my chickens and cattle,” he said. “I’m always making sure they stay at their best.”

Fall registration is currently underway. To learn more about TSTC, visit




Retired lineworker finds new adventure as TSTC instructor

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – After spending 22 years with the Brownsville Public Utilities Board as a certified lineworker, Candelario Deanda is ready to climb to new heights as an Electrical Lineworker Technology instructor when Texas State Technical College introduces the program at its Harlingen campus this fall.

“We are still in the process of getting everything ready,” Deanda said. “I will be an instructor for courses in obtaining the certificate, as well as the associate of applied science degree.”

The program will entail both online learning and labs, which will include the hands-on learning that TSTC is known for.

“Students will get to climb the poles and work with transformers,” he said. “It will never get boring.”

Lineworkers are often the first responders during power outages and major storms, making the hands-on learning not only fundamentally important, but also essential.

“If power lines go out, we fix the problem,” Deanda said. “Outside of weather circumstances, a lineworker’s day consists of work orders, digging for underground lines, setting the poles for new lines in subdivisions — all of that.”

It is no secret that the South Texas heat keeps people confined in their air-conditioned homes throughout the year, and it is because of such conditions that lineworkers are in demand.

“There is always going to be a need for lineworkers,” he said. “There will always be a need for somebody to ensure the power is on and running.”

While Deanda has two decades of experience under his workman’s belt, the main lesson he hopes to pass on to his students is the importance of being safe in the field.

“I hope my students learn that safety is vital,” he said. “I will teach them the importance of wearing their gear and their gloves; that’s my priority. I want to ensure that I teach them everything I can.”

For more information about TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program, visit

TSTC program chair finds fulfillment in helping students across the state

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Seventeen years at Texas State Technical College have brought Sarah Brooks many moments she will never forget. Serving as program chair for Health Information Technology, she not only has found a meaningful career but also has guided students toward fulfilling aspirations of their own.

What inspired you to take on a role in the medical field?

I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in the health care field, but not necessarily with direct patient contact. I was very excited to learn about the many different job opportunities available in the health information field. This career path also allowed me to have a normal work schedule while having a busy family life.

Do you have a favorite TSTC memory?

There are so many it is difficult to choose just one. My most treasured memories all stem from previous students who have contacted me to share their career successes. I love hearing the excitement and pride in their voices.

What do you enjoy most about working with students?

Being an online instructor allows me the opportunity to interact with many students from different areas across the state with a variety of life experiences. It is so rewarding to watch our students learn, develop, and then apply the knowledge and skills that I had a hand in teaching and mentoring them. It is such a privilege to watch these students grow and realize their own capabilities.

To learn more about Health Information Technology at TSTC, visit