Longtime Friends Set to Graduate Together from TSTC

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College students Jacob Bledsoe and Joshua Johnson did not get along when they first met in fifth grade in Indiana.

A teacher eventually told them to make peace and try to be friends. They took the advice.

Bledsoe and Johnson, both 20, are candidates for graduation at TSTC’s Summer 2018 Commencement at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17, at the Waco Convention Center.

Bledsoe is scheduled to receive an Electrical Construction certificate, and Johnson is set to receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology.

Today they are best friends, but their friendship took an unexpected turn when Johnson and his family left the Hoosier State and moved to Texas.

“We planned on high school graduation together, but that did not happen,” said Bledsoe.

Johnson said a teacher at his alma mater, Chisholm Trail High School in Fort Worth, encouraged him to attend TSTC. He was in the high school’s first graduating class in 2016.

“I came to visit (TSTC) in February of my senior year and liked it and applied,” Johnson said.

Bledsoe credits Johnson with influencing him to leave Indiana to attend TSTC. After graduating in 2016 from Southport High School in Indianapolis, Bledsoe worked at UPS and later as an electrician’s helper.

“He felt he could be doing more,” Johnson said.

Bledsoe applied to TSTC before he saw the campus for the first time in August 2017. Johnson, who had already been attending TSTC for two semesters, arranged for Bledsoe to room with him.  

“It’s a pretty big leap of faith and it worked out for (Bledsoe),” said Letha Novosad, lead instructor in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program in Waco.

Bledsoe tends to be extroverted and Johnson is more introverted. Bledsoe said Johnson can make great tacos while Johnson said Bledsoe is good at grilling. The two have learned when to give each other space after classes or on challenging days.

The friends once lived about 20 minutes apart in Indianapolis. Besides going to school together, the two bonded over the Disney Club Penguin Island video game.

Bledsoe and Johnson visited each other’s house during the summer after fifth grade. Johnson said they spent days playing outside, riding in the Bledsoe family’s four-wheeler and visiting Kings Island amusement park in Ohio.

Although they did not have classes together in sixth grade, Bledsoe said there were a few minutes during school days when they would pass in the hallway and talk.

Johnson and his family left Indianapolis the summer after his sixth-grade year.

“We were definitely upset,” he said. “I was upset that I would lose my friends.”

The Johnson family lived in Houston for a few months before moving to Fort Worth. While in Houston, Johnson got his first Xbox and was able to communicate with Bledsoe through the video game system.

“We talked and texted every day too,” Johnson said.

Despite the distance between them, the two friends were able to see each other during their freshman and sophomore years of high school.

“It was kind of weird seeing each other at first,” Johnson said.

Bledsoe and Johnson became interested in their career fields when they were younger. Bledsoe grew up around the plumbing and carpentry fields while Johnson chose welding as a class in high school.

Bledsoe was a defensive end on the Southport Cardinals football team. Though Johnson never got to see him play, Bledsoe sent him video clips when he played his senior year in the Horseshoe Classic, a season-opening jamboree at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

While at TSTC, Bledsoe participated in SkillsUSA’s Electrical Construction category at the organization’s 54th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

Bledsoe and Johnson are considering job options in Indiana and Texas.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.