TSTC Alumnus Solving Environmental Challenges in West Texas

(WACO, Texas) – Ethan Sessums sees his job as a way to give back to the environment to make it better.

“I am always looking for a challenge,” he said.

Sessums is an environmental scientist at New Tech Global Environmental in Midland. He began work shortly after graduating from Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus in spring 2019. His work focuses on creating and implementing remediation plans to fix environmental problems.

“People are overlooking the decontamination procedures,” Sessums said. “It is absolutely essential in this environmental industry to focus on decontamination management and handle issues.”

He works with regulatory agencies like the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas Parks and Wildlife.

“They want you to send them a detailed list and a detailed job plan of what you are going to do to clean up,” Sessums said. “They don’t want to know what the regulatory issues are. They want it cleaned up.”

Sessums grew up in Whitney and is a graduate of Whitney High School. He said he knew his postgraduation plan would include TSTC because of cost-effectiveness.

“I did not want to put myself in a position like friends and others have been where they can’t find a job and are buried with student loan debt,” he said.

Sessums began in a different program at TSTC before shifting to pursue associate degrees in the Environmental Technology and Occupational Safety Compliance Technology programs. He changed majors because of his interest in government, prevention and regulations.

“I have always been good at the inspection side in noticing and documenting things,” he said.

Sessums said he enjoyed much of the hands-on work he did, from learning how to put on pressurized suits and face masks to using air tanks.

Sessums credited Lester Bowers, statewide chair of TSTC’s Environmental Technology department, for giving hard-earned knowledge to him and his classmates.

“You can talk about theory and look at scenarios all day, but until you have someone who has been through it and been on-site and run into trouble and come up with solutions, that is what makes an instructor special,” Sessums said.

Bowers said Sessums exhibited honesty and efficient time management skills as a student.

“Ethan was an active participant in classroom discussions and activities, encouraging an environment of inclusion for all other students as well,” Bowers said. “He was adept at fostering healthy discourse in small groups of peers as well as effortlessly capturing the attention of larger groups.”

Sessums’ career advice for students is to focus on hands-on learning to back up the theories they learn. And, he said students should be prepared to go where the jobs are. 

“You have to be willing to move,” he said. “If you want to start out making real good money like you expect to make, you have to put yourself out there. You have to put your time in. You have to do the three to five years to where you can pick the job you want in the future.”

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