A survivor of domestic violence finds new lease on life at TSTC

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Yvette Vaughan is one of Texas State Technical College’s newest instructors with only three months on the job.  But she has big goals for her program and students.

Her bachelor’s degree in Biology and a master’s degree in Environmental Science, both from Tarleton State University, and her extensive experience in the field, made her a perfect match for TSTC’s Environmental Technology program.

“I’m excited to be at TSTC. This place was a gift to me from God,” she said. “This is a really big opportunity for me to make a difference in the lives of my students and to work together with them in making our planet a better place.”

The 43-year-old said she never expected to be where she is today because science wasn’t her first passion, but as a domestic violence survivor she is blessed to have a new lease on life.Yvette Vaughan

“I played the flute. I was a music major,” she said. “It was the only thing I knew. It was a large part of my life until an accident left me with severe facial injuries and crushed my dreams.”

At this point, Vaughan had to start life over again.

She became a single mother and no longer able to play the flute due to her injuries, found new dreams.

“I look back now and wonder if this was all some weird blessing in disguise, because had none of it happened, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Vaughan. “Who knew that I loved science as much as I do and that I am so good at it.”

Vaughan said receiving a degree in biology was as much of a surprise to her as it was to her family.

“My advisor called me into the office and asked me if wanted to graduate that semester because I had taken enough classes to earn my credits. I hadn’t even thought about it, or even declared a major,” she remembers. “But I said yes, and when I told my family about my new career choice it was a relief to know everyone was happy for me despite the huge change.”

This was, what Vaughan called, an extremely proud moment for her and her family.

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, surviving a troubled economy and completing her master’s degree, she went on to work at a state park, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and KJ Environmental Management, Inc., a dedicated, full service engineering and environmental consulting firm in Texas, holding positions in areas such as environmental, health and safety, gas and wastewater operations and consulting.

But after suffering two major car accidents on the same day, Vaughan worked hard to walk again and the pressure of constant travel because of her career and her existing injuries, became unbearable.

That is when Vaughan began looking for a new job and found TSTC’s job posting while sitting in an Idaho airport waiting for her flight.

“God answered my prayers that night. Had I not been stuck in Idaho, I would have never seen TSTC’s job posting,” she said. “I applied immediately and received a call back not long after.”

Teaching has been a big change for Vaughan, but she said it’s a good change and she’s looking forward to her future at TSTC.

“I’m more relaxed, less stressed and just overall happier now,” said Vaughan. “And working in a classroom is so rewarding to me and I can’t wait to see where we can take this program.”

Vaughan is currently working on getting Environmental Technology faculty and students involved in the community. She said she believes this is what will help spread awareness about the program, its benefits and career opportunities.

Most recently students volunteered with Fort Bend County’s Citizen’s Environmental Coalition on Earth Day and encouraged recycling, created a Fort Bend Citizen Corp. student chapter on campus, which Vaughan will lead as faculty advisor, and hosted an Environmental Day open house on campus to showcase the program for local middle and high school students.

“Building a strong relationship with our community is essential to how we grow Environmental Technology and TSTC,” said Vaughan.  “I want my students to not only be proud of their academic achievements, but also for what they’ve done for the community. We want to make a difference. And I hope my story can inspire others.”

Students who enroll in Environmental Technical in Fort Bend County, Breckenridge or Waco’s TSTC campuses, find careers as environmental science and protection technicians, environmental scientists and specialists or health and safety engineers or inspectors.

For more information on the program, visit tstc.edu/programs/EnvironmentalTechnology.