Category Archives: Harlingen

Student Success Profile – Lizett Garza

Lizett Garza is a Health Information Technology student at Texas State Technical College; she expects to earn her associate degree in Spring 2020.

The 32-year-old said she has always been interested in the medical field and said her sister inspired her to leave a customer service job of nearly a decade to return to school.

The Rio Hondo native and mother of three, who also works as work study with Talent Management and Career Services, said she is excited to be working toward a career and hopes to set an example for her children.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan on returning to TSTC to pursue the vocational and registered nursing programs.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to work as a nurse in a clinical setting. My ultimate goal is to earn a bachelor’s degrees and someday manage a clinic.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment has been maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade-point average after being out of school for so long.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned about life is the importance of an education. When I left my full-time job to return to school I needed to find something else, but it has been difficult without a degree. So I’m grateful for the opportunity to work on campus.

Who at TSTC has had the greatest influence on your success?

My Health Information Technology advisor and instructor Ana Gonzalez and instructor Aida Rocha have been my greatest influences. They push us to be the best version of ourselves. They prepare us for our careers and for life; they truly cares about our success.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?  

My advice for future TSTC students is to stay focused and stay in school. When life happens it’s easy to quit, but hang in there.

Student Success Profile – Alissa Sosa

Alissa Sosa, 19, expects to earn her associate degree this semester from Texas State Technical College.

The Harlingen native is an active member of the TSTC Leadership Academy and the Chemical Technology Club. With her participation in both organizations, Sosa has also been able to complete community service activities such as beach cleanups.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan on transferring to the University of Texas at San Antonio to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry.

What’s your dream job?

My ultimate dream is to earn a Ph.D. and work in medical research to find cures for serious illnesses and diseases. I want what I do to make a difference in other’s lives.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishments are one: getting this far in my education. I’m almost graduating and I never thought it was possible. I seriously considered joining the army to afford a valuable education that would lead to success. And two: I’ll be graduating from the Leadership Academy in a couple of months and the lessons I have learned and the experience I have gained have been a great accomplishment for me.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

I have learned that I am capable of anything. Before coming to TSTC I doubted my abilities and I never saw a future for myself. And being here has helped me realize with hard work and dedication I can achieve what I set my mind to. I now have a direction and I know what I want to do and where I want to go.

Who at TSTC has had the most influence on your success?

My Chemical Technology instructor Everardo Villarreal and former department chair Robert Hernandez have had the most influence in my success. They have both really encouraged me and pushed me to keep going when times get tough. They have helped me believe in myself.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to reach out if you need help. TSTC has so many resources that can assist students who are having trouble in class or in life. Also, get involved on campus. Yes, school can be stressful, but TSTC also makes it a priority to make it fun with its different clubs and student activities.

Up, Up and Away: TSTC alum finds career as flight mechanic

Isaiah Arizmendi is about to reach new heights with an associate degree from Texas State Technical College and a new career at World Atlantic Airlines.

The 20-year-old graduated in December 2017 and December 2018 with an associate degree in Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology, respectively.

“Aviation is in his blood,” said TSTC Aviation Maintenance instructor Leo Guajardo. “Arizmendi has a quiet confidence and I have seen him grow into a well-rounded student and professional.”

For the Rio Hondo native, his journey took flight at TSTC while a junior at Rio Hondo High School and a dual enrollment student.

And with an uncle and cousin in the field, a passion for aviation and working with his hands, as well as, a recommendation from his high school counselor, Arizmendi knew aviation maintenance at TSTC was the path he was supposed to follow.

“Never did I imagine I would have a career at 20,” said Arizmendi. “It’s because of dual enrollment and TSTC that I was able to get ahead.”

Arizmendi was bussed to TSTC every day, even with a broken collar bone from a sport injury, until he graduated from high school in 2016.

He said he left high school with confidence and peace of mind because he knew he was off to finish what he started.

“I had already come this far, so I planned on earning my degree,” he said. “And unlike many students in a senior class, I graduated with ease because I knew where I was going and what I was going to do.”

He said the training he received at TSTC fully prepared him to obtain his Federal Aviation Administration airframe and powerplant licenses, both required to work in the industry.

The exams for the licenses are a three-part tests that includes written, oral and application.

Arizmendi said he went into the testing room with assurance and fully prepared thanks to his instructors.

“All of my instructors were great and they made my TSTC experience a positive one,” said Arizmendi. “They’re so full of knowledge and ready to help. They kept me moving forward. Really, they keep all of their students going.”

Going and going, until they snag a position like Arizmendi’s at World Atlantic Airlines in Brownsville, or other aviation facilities across the Rio Grande Valley and statewide.

Arizmendi said he is looking forward to his new-found career as a flight mechanic, meaning he will be accompanying the pilots in the planes he repairs and maintains.

In about one week, he will have the opportunity travel the United States and abroad with this position.

“I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to travel and see new places,” he said. “But with this position comes great responsibility and I’m ready to tackle what comes my way.”

Included with the benefits of travel, he will also receive a full benefits package and competitive salary.

“There is no doubt that Arizmendi will achieve in this position,” said Guajardo. “I’m so proud of the aviation professional he has become and my wish for him is that he continues moving up.”

A wish Guajardo has for all of his students in an industry where the demand for aviation mechanics is increasing at a fast rate.

According to a Boeing pilot and technician outlook report, more than 754,000 new maintenance technicians will be needed to maintain the world fleet over the next 20 years.

“The demand in our field isn’t spoken about a lot. It’s often overlooked,” said Guajardo. “It’s a demanding career, but a rewarding one. Just ask any of our graduates; that number is also increasing.”

As for Arizmendi, he said he recommends the airframe and powerplant programs to anyone with an interest in aviation, and TSTC in general.

“TSTC changed my life drastically,” said Arizmendi. “They connect people to opportunities and provide the resources necessary for success.”  

Aircraft Airframe and Powerplant Technology is also offered at TSTC’s Abilene and Waco campuses, with a certificate and associate degree track.

For more information, visit

TSTC students build their way to success

Students in Building Construction Technology at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen are building sheds and gazebos as part of their class project.

In previous years, when the work was complete, the project would be torn down to reuse the materials, but this year things are different.

“Our students feel so accomplished when they finish, that making them tear it down is so disheartening,” said Building Construction Technology instructor Rick Vargas. “So this year, we’re selling their projects to the community.”

The students in Construction Technology 2 and Construction Management courses have been working for nearly two semesters to complete the gazebos and sheds.

“They have built each one from the foundation, up,” said Vargas. “It’s a long process and takes about three semesters to complete, but after this students have a better understanding of the construction process and are pretty much ready to work in industry.”

Each shed and gazebo is built with care and love according to Building Construction Technology student Salvador Hernandez.

“Construction is a passion for us here in this program,” said Hernandez. “We take pride in what we build. It’s been an elaborate process to ensure everything is of the highest quality and workmanship. We ensure that everything is well built.”

Salvador was pursuing a nursing degree at a four-year university prior to withdrawing and transferring to TSTC to pursue his love of construction, and said this particular project has taken his skills to the next level.

“I have been able to get experience in a little bit of everything by doing this project,” he said. “From the foundation and framing to the roofing, I feel better prepared to hit the ground running when I graduate next semester.”

Vargas said the idea behind this project is to give his students a real-world experience that will give them a hands-on approach to practice their skills from construction to management.

“Our overall goal is to create well-rounded students and get them placed in good paying jobs,” said Vargas. “And this project has always played a huge role in that.”

Jaqueline Vidal said this project has taught her a lot about her strengths, especially as a woman in a male-dominated career.

“What I’ve learned is that I can do anything the boys can do,” she said. “There are no limits for me as a woman and this project has taught me that.”

The gazebo that Vidal has been working on has already been sold and she said while she is proud and feels accomplished, she is also sad to see it go.

“It’s rewarding to know that someone liked our work enough to buy this gazebo and I hope they love it as much as we do,” she said.

The sheds and gazebos are not being sold to make a profit, but to merely cover the cost of materials the students use in class.

“We just want our students to gain experience and have their work recognized and appreciated. And take note: these students have produced a good-quality product,” said Vargas.

For information on how to purchase a shed or gazebo, call 956-364-4770.

Building Construction Technology is also offered at TSTC’s Waco campus, to learn more visit    

TSTC instructors present at national conference in Washington

Two Education and Training program instructors from Texas State Technical College in Harlingen recently garnered some national attention in Washington, D.C., when they made a presentation at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conference.

“This was our chance to share all of the things that make our program unique and highlight the work we’re doing at TSTC,” said Myriam Aguila, TSTC Education and Training department chair. “There are wonderful things happening at our college, and we wanted to recognize that.”

NAEYC is one of the largest early childhood education nonprofit associations in the U.S. It represents nearly 60,000 teachers, para-educators, center directors, trainers, college educators, policymakers and advocates from all over the world.

At the annual NAEYC conference, educators gather to share lessons, classroom strategies and ideas.

Aguila, who has presented internationally and serves as a board member for the NAEYC chapter in Texas and as president for the Rio Grande Valley chapter, and instructor Mary Elizabeth Hollmann not only were chosen from among hundreds who submitted presentation proposals, but also were the only ones from the RGV.

“It’s prestigious to get selected,” said Hollmann. “We presented to people from all over the world. It was a great experience.”

Their presentation, which was part of the conference’s Spanish track, was titled “All Children Can Learn Through Dramatic Play.” It focused on how classroom play centers that imitate places like kitchens, post offices and doctors’ offices encourage speaking, vocabulary, reading, spelling and writing.

“Just as it’s important to include hands-on learning for our college students, it’s of the same importance for our little ones, if not more,” said Hollmann. “This type of play and learning allows the children to exercise different parts of the brain, and also encourages social and problem-solving skills.”

Aguila and Hollmann also included some of their students’ work, such as prop boxes, to showcase in their presentation. The prop boxes included themed learning tools used as educational materials at TSTC’s NINOS Head Start program.

“The prop boxes were a hit with the people in our presentation,” said Aguila. “We had professionals enjoying the learning tools and playing with the props inside. Many said this was something they wanted to utilize with their students.”

TSTC in Harlingen’s Education and Training program is the only one of its kind among the college’s 10 campuses. It focuses on early childhood education through sixth grade, and offers certificates and associate degree tracks.

It is one of the largest programs at TSTC, with more than 400 TSTC students and close to 200 high school dual-enrollment students from school districts in Harlingen, Los Fresnos and San Benito.

The program also has a long-standing partnership with Texas A&M University-Kingsville, allowing credits to transfer so students can pursue a bachelor’s degree in education.

“Many of our students find positions at the schools where they complete their practicums,” said Aguila. “And this is great for our students and our program; this is how they craft their profession. But, as educators, we want them to reach for more. So we provide them with opportunities.”

Education and Training also offers evening and weekend classes so every student has the chance to be successful. As for Aguila and Hollmann, they are already preparing their presentation proposal for this year’s NAEYC conference in Tennessee.  

TSTC instructor receives congressional honor

When Sessia Wyche III is teaching and leading ministries he is changing lives, and for these contributions and more to the Rio Grande Valley, the Texas State Technical College Mathematics instructor was recently presented with a House of Representatives Congressional Record recognition by U.S. Congressman Filemon Vela.

 “When I received the call about receiving this honor I felt like it was the milestone of my life,” said the 73-year-old Bay City native. “Everything I’ve done is a calling from the Lord. My calling is to teach. I do what I do because I love it, not because I expect anything in return.”

A Congressional Record is the official record of proceedings and debates of the United States Congress and is published daily when congress is in session. Wyche was recognized during a Black History Month Celebration.

Wyche was one of 12 other community leaders honored.

The Congressional Record of proceedings and debates of the 116th Congress, recognized Wyche for his contributions to the state’s  34th Congressional District; it reads:  “He is a dedicated educator in the Rio Grande Valley…He is a role model for our children and we are thankful for his compassion to serve those in need.”

“I am thankful I had the privilege of highlighting and honoring Sessia as an upstanding member of the community,” said Vela. “His commitment to community through education, service to others and unyielding faith serves as a shining example of the people that make up our great community.”  

Wyche began his teaching career at TSTC in 1982, back when it was Texas State Technical Institute, after a four-year stint with Southwestern Bell as a programmer.

And with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics, physics and computer science from Texas A&I University, now Texas A&M – Kingsville, it was only fitting he teach younger generations the art of math.

He was with TSTI for five years before transitioning to a local university where he spent 22 years teaching before retiring.

Upon retiring, Wyche decided he was not done and returned to TSTC. He has now been with the college since 2009.

“Every morning I wake up and pray that the Holy Spirit fills me as I teach and that my students understand what I am teaching them,” said Wyche. “It’s a great feeling when I see my students’ eyes light up when they get it. That’s what makes this job fulfilling. The key is to stay positive.”

In addition to being a long-time educator, Wyche also uses his spare time to play dominoes every night, but most importantly, minister to those in need.

Since 2004, Wyche has led a prison ministry in Raymondville twice a week, at the juvenile detention center in San Benito every Thursday and has served as a volunteer chaplain at Valley Baptist Medical Center and Harlingen Medical Center.

“In the bible there is a verse, ‘Go therefore…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you,’ and reading this I knew serving others was my purpose,” said Wyche. “Serving others has been such a blessing. I live to serve.”

After a prostate cancer diagnosis in 2012, he was forced to slow down, but said it was through Psalm 1:18 – “I shall not die, but live, and declare the words of the Lord,” that he found healing and continued his work. Wyche continues to remain cancer free.

“My faith keeps me going, but so does my family,” he said. “I would not be able to do anything without the support of my family. My wife, children and grandchildren keep me going. A lot of what I have accomplished is because of them.”

Through the years Wyche has received numerous awards and promotions for his success as an instructor and professor, but said he credits a life-changing moment when he was 12, for who he has become.

“If you’re blessed, you bless others. And as a young boy, who attended a segregated school, I didn’t even have two cents for a chocolate milk,” he said. “But while cutting wood to build a fire for my family, a man stopped, observed my work and gave me 25 cents. I was the happiest boy because I could now afford chocolate milk. And since that day I knew I would help others the way this man helped me.”


Student Success Profile – Robert Piña

Robert Piña is a Business Management Technology student at Texas State Technical College and expects to earn his associate degree in Summer 2019.

The 43-year-old San Benito native, boasts a 3.5 grade-point average and also already holds two associate degrees from TSTC’s Building Construction Technology and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) programs.

The husband and father of four is also a student worker in TSTC’s Talent Management and Career Services Office and volunteers when has spare time as a Tech Day campus tour leader.

What are your plans after you graduate?

After I graduate I hope to find a position with a school district office or at TSTC.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to establish a career here at TSTC in an office setting. Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful, that I want to be that for someone else and help others achieve their dreams.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

As a first-generation college graduate, my greatest accomplishment has been earning my degrees and showing my children that it is never too late to fulfill your dream of an education.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The lesson I have learned is that perseverance does pay off. I worked in the hospitality industry for more than a decade, when I was laid off I decided to come back to school. It was scary and a challenge, but hard work and being opened to change has brought me a long way.

Who at TSTC has influenced your success the most?

The person who has influenced my success is TSTC Talent Management and Career Services Director Viviana Espinosa. She has been a great supervisor, always motivating. I see how successful she is and how hard she is working toward a graduate degree and it inspires me. She has inspired me to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to stay focused and to not get discouraged. If you stay on point and stay positive, everything is possible. All hard works pays off in the end.

Student Success Profile – Ayman Agharbi

Ayman Agharbi graduated from Texas State Technical College with an associate degree in Graphics Gaming and Simulation Programming and is now completing prerequisite classes for a bachelor’s degree in the field of computers.

The Harlingen native is also a math tutor at the TSTC Learning Resource Center, helping students understand everything from basic math to calculus.

What are your plans after graduation?

After completing my classes here at TSTC, I plan on transferring to Texas A&M University in College Station to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to work with a hardware development company like Intel, the world’s largest manufacturer of computer processors, and develop the software they need for their technology.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

There are two things I consider a great accomplishment. The first is earning my associate degree; it’s a step in the right direction for my future and my career. Second are the leadership skills I have gained at TSTC by working with Instructional Tutoring. The experience and lessons I have learned are invaluable, have helped me grow as a person and are lessons I will carry with me throughout my life.  

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is the importance of an education. In my first year of college, I was not focused or even into getting an education. It wasn’t until I started doing research on successful people, with and without an education, that I realized that it was going to be difficult to get through life without a formal education.  

Who at TSTC has had the most influence on your success?

There are so many people at TSTC that have influenced me and my success: first and foremost my father, Mohamed Agharbi, who is an associate professor of mathematics, and of course my supervisors and mentors, Norma Salazar and Linda Barron. They have all guided me, pushed me and given me opportunities.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to learn time management, take advantage of the tutoring services TSTC offers and, most importantly — something I had to learn the hard way — don’t be afraid to ask questions. My first year of college was challenging just because I was afraid to ask about things I didn’t understand or know, but honestly that’s the only way things make sense sometimes.

TSTC empowers students to be industry-ready

Texas State Technical College recently hosted its fifth annual Empowerment Conference focused on getting students industry-ready.

Mary Morales, a TSTC Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics student, was one of nearly 50 students who attended the event.

The 30-year-old said that as a nontraditional student there are challenges she will face, and this event helped her learn the steps to break the barriers.

“As someone who has worked in retail for many years, soft skills are something I subconsciously practice,” said the Brownsville native. “So this has been a great reminder and excellent educational opportunity.”

Morales expects to earn her associate degree in Spring 2020.

TSTC Support Services coordinator Patty Flores said the event, which was open to all TSTC students, was a success if it helped at least one student like Morales.

The conference was aligned with TSTC’s statewide Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) on student success: Improve students’ job readiness for the attainment of gainful employment.  

“Our job is to not only teach our students technical skills for the workforce, but also soft skills,” said Flores. “We need to create well-rounded students who can face any challenge in the industry. A lot of times it’s these soft skills that will make them or break them.”

Soft skills are personal characteristics that allow a person to interact effectively with other people such as communication skills, time-management ability, problem-solving skills, adaptability and teamwork.

Conference sessions and interactive activities were led by TSTC faculty and staff.

TSTC assistant department chair and psychology instructor Frank Coronado covered collaboration, General Academics instructor Monica Villarreal covered communication and interpersonal skills, TSTC counselor Alex Galan shed light on problem-solving, and Student Life coordinator Belinda Palomino reviewed interview skills and resume writing.

“A degree alone doesn’t suffice,” said Coronado. “Success in industry is dependent on the graduate’s soft skills, so I hope these students take my examples and those of the other presenters and apply them. We need to fill many jobs, and our students need these skills to do well.”

For TSTC Education and Training student Angel Flores, who is enrolled in a female-dominated field, every presenter had something meaningful and useful that he can use in his everyday life and in the classroom.

“I’m so glad TSTC hosts events like this for us. This conference in particular has allowed me to realize that I need to become a better listener,” he said. “Now I can work on this to become a better teacher and teammate to my colleagues. This event really exceeded my expectations.”

Angel expects to earn his associate degree in Fall 2019.

Patty Flores said conferences like this are about bringing awareness to important topics and issues. Past Empowerment Conferences have covered topics such as human trafficking, cultural awareness and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).   

“To educate is our main purpose,” said Flores. “It’s crucial that we empower our students and community with the services and resources available to them.” For more information on the services and conferences offered by TSTC Support Services, call 956-364-4520.

TSTC students intern with local legislators

The 86th Texas legislative session has begun and two Texas State Technical College students serving as interns for local state representatives will get a first-hand look into the legislative process.

 “These students are about to embark on an experience that will change their lives,” said TSTC Executive Vice President of Governmental Affairs Javier Deleon. “This is a great stepping stone toward any career path they choose.”

TSTC student leaders Iris Juarez and Jennie Remington will intern for State Representatives Armando Martinez and Oscar Longoria, respectively.

This is the second year that TSTC partners with local representatives to provide this type of opportunity for its students.

Both women will serve as interns with the state representatives for five months and have the chance to work in a professional office setting, communicate with constituents and attend networking events.  

“In the past, we have had great responses from the legislators and their staff,” said Deleon. “Our interns are a value to their offices, help wherever help is needed and represent TSTC, their respective office and the state representative in the best light.”

This is a great way to showcase our college and what our students are made of,” added Deleon.

Juarez, who recently earned her associate degree in Business Management Technology and is completing her Academic Core, said this opportunity came at just the right time.

The San Benito native took the lead with TSTC’s voter registration initiative this last midterm election, is a student orientation leader with TSTC’s New Student Orientation Office and serves on TSTC’s Leadership Academy and Service Squad.

“I was actually looking for an additional position where I could grow my skills,” said Juarez. “So when this opportunity came up, I couldn’t pass on it. I’m confident and ready.”

The 21-year-old also said she hopes to be a great asset to Martinez’s team. She is looking forward to taking what she has learned at TSTC in her program and through her leadership roles and applying it to her position.

“I’ve gained the confidence I need here at TSTC to excel in this internship,” said Juarez. “And I plan on learning a lot and embracing this new experience.”

Remington is also a student leader on and off campus, serving as lead for TSTC’s Leadership Academy, as a volunteer for TSTC Student Life and Engagement, as a youth leader with her church and as a volunteer with the Harlingen Community Theater.

“Never did I imagine I would be given this type of opportunity,” said the 28-year-old. “And I’m excited about working with Longoria and his team and the growth a position like this can bring.”

The Harlingen native is pursuing an associate degree in Education and Training at TSTC and hopes to pursue a career in early education.

She said this internship will give her a glimpse into policies that affect the community and education, so she is looking forward to shadowing professionals and networking with those who will help her grow as a person and future educator.

“I hope to represent TSTC well, help in the best way I can and learn a lot,” said Remington. “And I know this will help me be better informed and build new relationships. And knowing how much my mentors believe in me, helps me believe that I will be successful during this internship.”

Those mentors are TSTC Student Life Director Adele Clinton and Student Life Coordinator Belinda Palomino.

“When it comes to opportunities like this we are always looking for committed student leaders who are articulate, organized and comfortable with taking initiative and making decisions,” said Palomino. “And these two women were a perfect fit. They will bring great attitudes, organizational and leadership skills and will show that TSTC students can not only thrive in industry, but also in a professional environment with public servants.”

Palomino added that co-curricular experiences like these internships will ensure that TSTC not only trains students in their vocation, but also gives students the opportunity to network and learn more about themselves and the community.

Deleon said he has no doubt that Juarez and Remington will succeed and he hopes to give other students the chance at serving as interns or student ambassadors with other local lawmakers in the future.