Category Archives: Harlingen

Computer Programming at TSTC prepares students for booming career

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Coding, JavaScript, and Python may seem like foreign languages to some, but for Texas State Technical College students enrolled in Computer Programming, they are as easy as the alphabet.

The program, which is taught online, prepares students to become problem solvers behind the scenes while not forgetting other vital components of career training, like project management and communication skills.

TSTC statewide department chair Shannon Ferguson and instructor Shelby Coffman discussed the program’s benefits and what students can expect to learn.

“Students enrolled in Computer Programming technology will work with industry-standard development tools and resources,” Coffman said. “Throughout their coursework, students use these tools to complete projects that simulate real-world scenarios. We want our students to achieve mastery by demonstrating their proficiency on the topics we cover.”

Ferguson added that the impact of a computer programmer is a lot closer than most people would assume.

“Behind every software, website, game and mobile application is a computer programmer who makes things happen,” he said. “Programmers are needed in every facet of business and industry. We live in a world where we have access to products, information, and resources to help us in our daily lives at the click of a mouse. Computer programmers make this possible.”

Ferguson and Coffman both agree that the quality curriculum available at TSTC makes a great impact on the learning outcomes of students.

“Technology, as well as industry demand, is continually changing and evolving,” Ferguson said. “Like most programs at TSTC, the Computer Programming department regularly reevaluates and adjusts our curriculum to meet the needs of industry partners and demand.”

Coffman said that the department also makes sure to stay competitive in the industry.

“We work closely with our departmental advisory board to ensure we teach the skills and topics that industry is looking for in prospective employees,” he said. “Our goal is to produce graduates that are ready for the workforce.”

According to the Texas Workforce Commission and, the field is expected to grow by at least 10 percent over the next 10 years.

Both instructors have advice for students who are curious about the program.

“If you are interested in technology, how software works and can approach problems as solvable challenges, then you can be successful as a computer programmer.”

To learn more about the programs available at TSTC, visit

Photo caption: Computer Programming at TSTC is offered 100 percent online. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)

Desire to adopt child and help others motivates TSTC EMS student

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Vanessa Hurtado had a special reason to reenroll at Texas State Technical College.

The San Benito native’s desire to adopt a child inspired her to want to help others, and she hopes that a certificate of completion in Emergency Medical Services that she is working on, along with the biology degree that she earned at TSTC in 2016, will help her to do just that.

“I saw a need for the little girl that my husband and I want to adopt,” she said. “I want to be able to give her a normal, happy and healthy life.”

Hurtado knew that she was making a good decision when she returned to TSTC.

“I already had experience there,” she said. “I knew I was going to get a quality education and training. I made the decision to come back specifically for this program, and I have not regretted it.”

She said that part of what makes her time in the Emergency Medical Services program worthwhile are the instructors.

“They have all been in the field, and they teach from experience,” she said. “The instructors advocate for the students, and they love what they do.”

Daniel Forbing, an instructor in the program, said that Hurtado is not just excelling as a student, but also as someone who other students could come to for help should they need it.

“She is a mentor for other students,” he said. “I look forward to hearing about the great things she will do in the field.”

As far as what she plans to do after graduating, Hurtado said that because of the hands-on training she has received while studying, her options are wide open.

“The great thing about this program is that you get to interact with potential future employers during clinical rotation,” she said. “It is like one big job interview. The possibilities are truly endless.”

During the month of March, TSTC wants to honor women in history and right on our campuses who work to make strides in STEM fields every day.

To learn more about TSTC, visit

TSTC to host virtual job fair for its students and alumni

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The Texas State Technical College Office of Career Services will host a virtual industry job fair from March 23-25 to connect TSTC students and alumni with potential employers.

The event is not open to the public.

TSTC Career Services recently hosted a successful drive-thru event in which more than 200 TSTC students and alumni participated and learned of the services still available despite the remote learning environment.

“Students were happy and so appreciative to have an event on campus,” said Viviana Espinosa, a director of TSTC Career Services . “They felt like it brought some normalcy to their day.”

Espinosa wants TSTC students and alumni to have the same enthusiasm for the upcoming virtual job fair.

“Our hope is that our students will gain a job through the fair,” she said. “It is a great way for students to present themselves to potential employers, ask questions and build their network.”

TSTC Career Services associate Ashley Perez said the event has attracted representatives of some impressive companies and dozens of potential employers.

“We have close to 90 employers participating and about 30 companies attending each day of the three-day event,” she said. “Some of the companies include Phillips 66, BMW, L3Harris Technologies and ONE Gas.”

TSTC students and alumni should log in to their hireTSTC accounts on March 23 beginning at 10 a.m. to access the job fair, but they should not come empty-handed.

“Have your resume ready to send to employers,” Espinosa said. “Practice your elevator pitch, research the companies you are interested in, and test your technology at home before the event. Also, be sure to dress appropriately, and make sure your surrounding area is clean and organized.”

TSTC Career Services associate Belinda Munoz said that students should take advantage of the opportunity to interact with the potential employers.

“The main purpose of the job fair is for our students to gain employment,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to network.”

To learn more about TSTC, visit

Financial Aid Processing Center at TSTC works to assist students

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The Financial Aid Office at Texas State Technical College is now the Financial Aid Processing Center.

The center works diligently to provide both current and prospective students with information and resources about scholarships, grants and other aid that they may be eligible for during their time at TSTC.

“We are working hard to award students as quickly as possible,” said TSTC financial aid processing specialist Johann Martinez. “Although we do not meet with students personally, we do help their enrollment coaches with any questions they have about their financial aid.”

There are several options that students can explore when it comes to applying and receiving financial aid to help pay for tuition and other costs associated with attending college.

“Federal student aid comes from the federal government,” Martinez said. “It is money that helps a student pay for higher education expenses. There are three main categories of federal student aid: grants, work-study funds, and loans.”

While applying for financial aid may seem intimidating for students, Martinez said that students at TSTC do not have to do it alone. He said that if someone needs assistance through the process or has questions about financial aid, then they should not hesitate to reach out to a TSTC enrollment coach.

“Students who wish to get their financial aid questions answered can reach out to their enrollment coach at the Enrollment Center, which continues to offer virtual appointments,” he said. “They can also call 956-364-4997 for assistance.”

June 1 is the recommended financial aid application deadline for the fall 2021 semester. Students interested in applying for financial aid can reach out to an enrollment coach or visit


TSTC welcomes new regional executive director of government affairs

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – After having spent nearly two decades working in the Texas government, Maricela De Leon joined Texas State Technical College in February to serve as its regional executive director of Government Affairs.

De Leon said that education is something she has always fought for, not only in her career, but also in her personal life. She knows these experiences will bring much to the table through her journey at TSTC.

“I have always been a proponent of education,” she said. “I hope to bring my leadership and go-getter attitude with me to my new position.”

Growing up in the underserved community of San Carlos is what motivated De Leon to continue her education, and it is what propelled her to continue fighting for others who have grown up in similar circumstances.

“Sometimes there are communities that are left behind,” she said. “I know what it’s like to be invited last to the party, and I want to make sure that I give back. Coming from a challenging background should not be the single most reason why you do not want to seek higher education. I want to be the advocate for those students.”

While De Leon wants to be a fighter for others, it was her family that inspired her. Her parents have always instilled in her the importance of an education, and her older brother, who left home at 18 to attend college in Dallas, reinforced it through his own experience.

“My brother would write to me and say that education was my key to everything,” she said. “My education, along with my career experiences, have led me to where I am today.”

De Leon also dedicates herself to her nonprofit, Just Kauz It’s Right, which she started in 2009. The organization gives school supplies to students across the Rio Grande Valley and in Mexico.

“When you plant that seed about a desire to learn more, it really does stick with young students,” she said.

Ultimately one of De Leon’s callings is to continue planting that seed in the minds of young people so that they too can experience the difference that an education can make.

“Students develop the life that they are going to live,” she said. “I would tell any student to continue to develop their mind because it is invaluable. Take the leap and keep charging forward.”

During the month of March, TSTC wants to honor women in history and right on our campuses who work to make strides in STEM fields every day. #tstchonors

To learn more about TSTC, visit


TSTC Education and Training utilizes hybrid curriculum for teaching future educators

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Future child care providers, teaching assistants and paraprofessionals receive a uniquely hands-on education when enrolled in Texas State Technical College’s Education and Training program.

The program, which has adopted an online curriculum since March 2020, equips students to work in child care settings with infants, toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school students up until sixth grade.

“Our program is now 100 percent online as of March 2020,” Education and Training instructor Myriam Aguila said. “Thanks to the experience, knowledge and commitment we have to our students, our faculty has converted all of our courses so that the content and the learning outcomes are fully met through this new modality. Right now, technology is our best ally.”

Tony Desjardins, an instructor in the program, said that different approaches are used throughout a student’s studies to ensure their success.

“It is a hybrid technical education program incorporating a skills-based instructional approach, along with the coverage of relevant academic content,” he said. “Our students graduate with valuable classroom experience, which sets them apart from other traditional teacher-training program graduates.”

While the coronavirus pandemic has brought adjustments to many college curriculums, Aguila said that the TSTC Education and Training department is still greatly committed to student success.

“I am very proud to say that our program is unique, not only in our local area, but even at a larger scale,” she said. “We utilize a hands-on approach, which includes field-based experiences.”

Aguila added that the instructors in the program are part of what makes a tremendous difference.

“All of the instructors have been teaching between 10 and 44 years,” she said. “We provide our students with knowledge, skills, strategies, tips and experiences to succeed.”

Desjardins had some advice for future educators.

“Take advantage of the networking opportunities that may develop while completing elementary classroom observations and field experiences,” he said. “I would also recommend that students secure a position as a teacher assistant or co-teacher while working on their certificate or degree.”

To learn more about TSTC, visit


TSTC Building Construction Technology program adapts as lumber prices increase

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Hands-on work with lumber is essential to Texas State Technical College’s Building Construction Technology program.

And as students hammer, nail and saw to create a range of projects, program instructors are keeping an eye on the dollars and cents of lumber.

“We use the cheapest framing lumber we can find for our framing projects,” said Rick Vargas, lead instructor in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program. “We do still purchase treated lumber when needed to show the students exactly how it should be done, but that does take a big chunk out of our budget to get it.”

Prices for softwood lumber have undergone a 73 percent unadjusted increase from January 2020 to January 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index.

“Lumber prices do seem to just keep climbing up, but thankfully we’ve been ordering slightly more than what we need so we can create a small stock of lumber when we need it,” Vargas said. “We do not have a lack of projects in the shop, which the students love because they can always work on something to learn.”

Lumber prices have caught the eye of some national construction organizations.

The National Association of Home Builders has attributed price increases to not enough domestic production of lumber. John C. Fowke, the NAHB’s board chairman, asked in a Jan. 29 letter to President Biden to end tariffs on Canadian lumber shipments into the United States.

The Associated General Contractors of America, which has a Rio Grande Valley chapter in Harlingen, has said the slowdown in the supply chain due to the COVID-19 pandemic has also played a role in rising prices.

Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, wrote a letter on Feb. 18 to the president seeking for the administration to ask domestic lumber producers to increase production to make up for growing shortages and improve delivery methods.

“While lumber is sometimes considered a product that is important only in single-family house construction and remodeling, in reality lumber and other wood products are used in every type of building construction,” Sandherr wrote.

Vargas said there are alternatives for the Building Construction Technology program to use, some of which include metal finish materials.

“We do not sacrifice the learning experience because of that,” he said. “If we can, we try to salvage whatever pieces of lumber we can to use somewhere else. We will sometimes even take down a structure that we built just to reuse the lumber for the next class. It is unfortunate, but we use it as a training opportunity and discuss how to properly salvage lumber during a renovation and remodel.”

The uncertainty of lumber prices is a learning experience for TSTC’s Building Construction Technology students. 

“The students run their take-offs and estimates and see how much we are going to pay for those materials and explore other alternatives,” Vargas said. “It helps in the value engineering portion of construction, where the goal is to save money but still accomplish the same design outcome.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

TSTC EMS program prepares students with real-world experience

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The Emergency Medical Services program at Texas State Technical College takes pride in preparing students for their futures in health care with hands-on training that will allow them to get to work on day one.

Instructor Daniel Forbing discussed the emphasis that the program places on real-world environments, as well as an opportunity that allowed eight TSTC EMS students the chance to roll up their sleeves and get to work when they volunteered at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

“Students assisted with the rehab portion of the vaccine, which included the 15-minute check after patients received their dose,” he said. “They were able to facilitate care and interact with patients.”

Current EMS student Vanessa Hurtado said she is grateful that she was able to play a role in a historic moment for the Rio Grande Valley.

“I learned that organization, communication and teamwork are the formula for success,” she said. “There were 6,000 vaccinations given that day, and I am happy I was able to be a part of it and play a tiny, but important, role in a huge piece of our history.”

While experience outside of the classroom is essential, the tools that students are able to learn with also make a difference.

“Students in our program train with top-of-the-line equipment, like our ambulance simulator,” Forbing said. “We prepare them for the national registry and provide them with all certifications to get a job.”

It is essential that students graduate with several achievements under their belt.

“All of our students graduate with all required certifications, such as CPR training, to get straight to work,” Forbing said. “TSTC establishes a real-world learning environment for them.”

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Paramedic, as well as certificates of completion in Emergency Medical Services – Advanced Emergency Medical Technician and Emergency Medical Services – Paramedic.

To learn more about the EMS program at TSTC, visit or email Daniel Forbing at

To learn more about TSTC, visit

TSTC Career Services to host On-the-Go Drive-Thru for TSTC students and alumni

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The Office of Career Services at Texas State Technical College is not letting working remotely stop it from helping TSTC students on their path to a new career.

The department is set to host an On-the-Go Drive-Thru from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10, to reiterate to students that despite the fact that most of the TSTC staff is working from home, they are still available to assist whenever and wherever they can.

Office of Career Services director Viviana Espinosa said that the purpose of the event is to benefit students and alumni.

“We want to promote our services to them,” she said. “We actually have a Virtual Job Fair coming up in late March, and employers are eager to connect with our students and alumni.”

The event will follow TSTC’s coronavirus protocols, and while students will not be able to meet with staff indoors that day, they will still be given guidance that they need.

“They will be able to schedule appointments to meet with our Career Services staff face-to-face or virtually after the event,” Espinosa said.

TSTC Career Services associate Ashley Perez said that she hopes students leave the event with a clear understanding of the department.

“We want our TSTC students to become more informed about the services we have to offer,” she said. “This includes resume assistance, interviewing assistance, career placement and job fairs. We want to let students know we are still here to help them, even while working remotely.”

Espinosa shared the same sentiment.

“Our hope is that through this event we will remind students that we are readily available to assist them as they prepare to enter the workforce,” she said. “We want to hear from our students, we want them to stay engaged, and ultimately we want to connect them to all available options.”

To learn more about the event and TSTC’s Office of Career Services, TSTC students and alumni should contact Viviana Espinosa at

For more information about TSTC, visit


Training future educators is ‘a calling’ for TSTC instructor

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Myriam Aguila, Texas State Technical College’s Education and Training department chair, for seven years has helped to transform today’s TSTC students into tomorrow’s educators.

Prior to her time at TSTC, she served as a Head Start teacher, diligently working with the curious minds of two-year-old students. She also worked with the Brownsville Independent School District and as an assistant principal across the world at an elementary school in the United Arab Emirates.

Throughout her years in education, Aguila has known one thing is certain: she was born to teach.

“I firmly believe that being an educator is something that you have in your heart, not only in your mind,” she said. “It is a calling and a need to help others.”

Aguila said that she knew what she wanted to do in her life from a very young age.

“I remember wanting to be a teacher at eight years old,” she said. “It probably runs in my veins.”

Being a part of the lives of students who have the same passion for education is very important to her.

“Being able to share my experience with new generations in the field, and seeing how students grow and develop new skills, is wonderful.”

Though she has many favorite moments, there are a few memories at TSTC that stand out in particular.

“Almost every single class session has left me a great memory,” she said. “One of the moments I remember fondly was when our department received five scholarships to attend a training at NASA in Houston. Another was when a group of educators from Honduras came to the Rio Grande Valley for training and observations, and my bilingual students served as interpreters for them in the classroom.”

Her passion for education is not going anywhere, and neither is she.

“After 32 years of teaching, I do not have plans to retire,” she said. “I enjoy my job so much. Being able to interact and communicate with many people … has allowed me the opportunity to teach and learn at the same time.”

TSTC’s Education and Training program at the Harlingen campus offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a Certificate 2.

During the month of March, TSTC wants to honor women in history and right on our campuses who work to make strides in STEM fields every day.

To learn more about TSTC, visit