(ABILENE) — Friendships can be one of the greatest things about a student’s time at college.
Recent Texas State Technical College Emergency Medical Services graduate Ricki Coleman found a great friend in his EMS instructor, Ronnie Pitts. So Coleman took time to honor him at TSTC’s Fall 2018 commencement ceremony.
“Ronnie is the reason I’m graduating,” Coleman said. “He really listened to me and became a friend and a mentor, and I wouldn’t be here without him.”
Coleman is a member of the academic honor society Phi Theta Kappa, and as a thank-you he gifted Pitts with an honorary Phi Theta Kappa stole.
“I had no clue he was going to give me this, and I am so honored,” Pitts said. “We’re both about the same age and have gone through a lot of the same things, so I’m just glad I could offer some advice.”
Coleman served in the U.S Army from 1990 to 2004. After he left, he worked in several fire service and emergency medical service jobs.
“I’ve always had a calling to this field and just want to help people,” Coleman said.
Despite years of experience in the industry, Coleman wanted to be an example for his children and get a degree.
“It’s showing that you can be committed and consistent in the business world, and I can’t tell my kids to do something if I can’t be the example,” Coleman said.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, emergency medical technician and paramedic jobs are expected to grow by 15 percent over the next 10 years.
With the expected growth in jobs, TSTC in Abilene moved the EMS program to the new Industrial Technology Center that opened at the beginning of the fall semester.
“The new building is beautiful, and I think it helps to teach these skills in a real-life setting,” Coleman said.
Wanting to follow in his mentor’s footsteps, Coleman hopes to become an instructor in TSTC’s EMS program.
“Ricki has always been an ideal student: respectful, professional and open to feedback,” Pitts said. “And I think anywhere would be very lucky to have him in their employment.”
Before the commencement ceremony, Coleman and Pitts shared a laugh and a hug as they celebrated his achievement.
“This was a bucket-list accomplishment, and there have been so many people — my kids, my wife and of course him (Pitts) — that helped to get me here,” Coleman said.
For more information about TSTC, log on to tstc.edu.