TSTC Profile of Excellence – Cristobal Davila

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Cristobal Davila, 41, is a two-time Texas State Technical College graduate. In 2015 he earned an associate degree in Business Management Technology and a certificate in Automotive Technology in 2018.TSTC Profile of Excellence Cristobal Davila

The single dad of two boys worked mostly as a security officer before attending TSTC, and said he finally found his dream job in February when he was hired as an inventory control technician for TSTC’s Central Receiving department.

At an early age, Davila enlisted in the U.S. Army and served eight years, never thinking college was in his future, but he said it was his boys and his desire for a better life that inspired him to enroll.

What was your reaction when you first learned about your job offer?

When I learned about my job offer it was an emotional time for me. Even being at new employee orientation was surreal. Life has been a struggle, but now I have a great paying career, benefits and a work/life balance that allows me to be home with my sons more. I still get emotional thinking about it.

How did TSTC prepare you for your career?

TSTC prepared me for my career in more ways than one. Yes, the training I received was invaluable, I gained and learned skills that set me up for success, but TSTC also taught me soft skills such as how to be a better communicator and leader. I was a work-study student with TSTC Procurement and this allowed me to grow as a person and professional; it provided a number of opportunities for me.

What has had the greatest influence on your success?

First, there’s my sister Rebecca Davila, who also works at TSTC as an executive assistant for Student Development. She encouraged me to enroll at TSTC and motivated me throughout my educational journey. She always has my best interest in mind. Last but not least, are Ruben Ochoa, TSTC Inventory Control supervisor and Linda Rodriguez-Guillen, executive director of Procurement, for giving me the opportunity to begin my career here at TSTC.

What are your future goals?

I hope to someday buy a home for my boys and I, something we can call our own. Also, I’ve never had a new car, so that’s something I would like to accomplish as well. And finally, I hope to just continue working hard and being a good example for my boys so that they too can establish goals and dreams they can work toward.

What would you tell a student thinking of pursuing a two-year degree vs. a four-year degree?

From someone who regrets not attending college earlier in life, I would tell someone to take advantage of any type of education you can get. Four-year degrees are great, but a two-year degree can also get you job-ready, give you skills that will give you an edge against others applying for the same job and that will make you more marketable. A two-year degree is a great starting point.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to always have a goal that you are working toward, stay focused and don’t sell yourself short.

TSTC Veterans Center receives donation from American Legion

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – In a new partnership, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 205 recently presented Texas State Technical College with a check for veteran student scholarships.

The check, in the amount of $1,000, is the first donation in what will become an annual gift for the college and its veteran population.

“We have seen, first-hand, the need our veterans have when they return from the military,” said Linda Correa Garcia, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 205 vice president-elect. “This is our way of giving back to the men and women who have given us so much.”

Every year, the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 205, hosts a large fundraiser to raise funds for scholarships and other causes that benefit veterans and their families.

And after a meeting with The TSTC Foundation and TSTC Veteran Center Director Steve Guevara, and seeing the resources provided to students by the center, Garcia and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 205 President-elect Elizabeth Tamayo, were compelled to use a portion of the funds raised for scholarships.TSTC, American Legion Donation

“Our goal is to give our veterans the chance at a better life,” said Tamayo. “To give them the opportunity of returning to school and obtaining a new career.”

The funds from this donation will be used for two scholarships in the amount of $500, which can be used toward tuition, books, supplies or room and board.

All veterans enrolled at least part-time with a 2.5 grade-point average or higher are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

A committee made up of TSTC employees, who are also veterans, will review the applications and essays to select the recipients of the scholarships.

Guevara said this newly-formed partnership with the American Legion Auxiliary is great and serves as a way to provide veterans with a resource for information on educational benefits.

“Donations like these really make a large impact in the lives of our veterans,” said Guevara. “Unfortunately, many veterans struggle when they return, so this allows them to make a new transition.”

He added that a large portion of the veteran population at TSTC are non-traditional students with families to support, so any assistance makes a difference for their families as well.

This is why Garcia and Tamayo are also using this first donation as a way to challenge other American Legion units and posts to also donate toward TSTC veteran scholarships.

“We are spread out throughout the Valley, from Port Isabel to Mission and we want to challenge other units to contribute to TSTC veteran scholarships and match what we’ve donated,” said Garcia. “If they are unable to match, at least contribute to a veteran’s education.”

Guevara said he sees this partnership growing in the future and with this growth the possibility of helping more veterans.

“With the support of Unit 205 and the challenge they have posed to others, I can see this growing,” said Guevara. “We appreciate all of the help American Legion Auxiliary is giving our students and we look forward to helping more veterans accomplish their dreams.”

TSTC in Harlingen has been recognized as a Military-Friendly School for eight straight years, and the college has been recognized statewide as a Military-Friendly School for four years.

The TSTC Veterans Center serves as a centralized, one-stop shop for prospective and current students who are veterans, as well as their dependents. The center assists with admission, financial aid, GI Bill and Hazlewood applications. There is also a variety of services, such as internal and external referrals, that can benefit veteran students.

In addition to the Veterans Center, TSTC also offers self-paced, competency-based learning for veterans who have gained applicable skills through their service in the military. Veterans can receive credit for these skills to move ahead on their certificate or degree plan quicker.

For more information on the Veterans Center, call 956-364-4387 or visit tstc.edu/veterans.

TSTC makes history with first female lieutenant, swears in new sergeant

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The Texas State Technical College Campus Police in Harlingen recently made history by swearing in the college’s first female lieutenant, Gloria Ruiz.

“She’s a pioneer. A professional in her field and one of the greatest assets to our department,” said TSTC Vice Chancellor and Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel Ray Rushing. “She’s a master at taking a task that is fundamental to our department and turning it into reality.”

Ruiz, who has been with TSTC for 17 years, also made history in 2004 when she was the first female promoted to police sergeant, and although she has found success at TSTC, the journey was not always easy.TSTC Police Lt. Gloria Ruiz

“I can’t help but think how far I’ve come,” said Ruiz. “As a high school dropout all the numbers show that I am here against all odds, but in honor of all the women who are fighting to break glass ceilings and for those who have supported and empowered me I proudly accept my new position.”

She was only 19 when she began working at the Levi’s Manufacturing Co. in Harlingen and said she dreaded going to work.

Then at 23-years-old she lost her first child, Gloria Ann, to a freak accident. By 26, she had her second child, a failing marriage and no high school diploma.

“This was when I realized I needed to get my general education diploma (GED),” said Ruiz. “I was 32-years-old, but I wanted hope of a better future.”

At 35, Ruiz attended night classes at the police academy to fulfill her dream of becoming an officer and worked 40 to 50 hours a week as a security officer for the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District.

“This was a huge sacrifice for me and my kids, but look at me now,” said Ruiz proudly. “I was one of the oldest cadets in the academy and one of only a couple of women, but I never let that stop me. Now I get to serve and protect our campus and community and even give students advice, hope and inspiration.”

Not only is Ruiz celebrating her promotion, but she also recently completed her academic core at TSTC to begin working toward an associate degree in Criminal Justice.

Taking his place as TSTC Campus Police sergeant is Eduardo Becerra. He was also recently sworn into his new position.

Becerra has been with TSTC for six years, this being his first promotion within the department.

“I’m both excited and nervous for this promotion,” he said. “I’ve wanted to be a police officer since I was about seven or eight years old and now I get to protect and serve my community. It’s a great deal of responsibility, but I’m proud that my hard work was recognized and that Chief Eduardo Patino has confidence in my knowledge and experience. This will help me perform to the best of my ability.”TSTC Campus Police

Becerra, who as sergeant now oversees nearly 10 people within the department, served three years in the United States Army and a one-year tour in Iraq before returning to his home in Brownsville.

Once home and taking time for himself and his transition back into civilian life, Becerra enrolled in the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council Police Academy at TSTC.

As a cadet in the academy he worked security for TSTC events, which was when Patino noticed his commitment to the field and hard work.

“By this time I was more than ready for a new career and I’m glad that TSTC gave me a chance,” he said. “My experience at this college has been amazing, we’re like one big family, and I’m proud that I get to protect my “family” every day while doing what I love.”

He added that he looks forward to training and preparing his officers to perform their duties without hesitation while using TSTC’s core values of excellence, accountability, service and integrity as a guide.

Both Ruiz and Becerra said they credit their success to TSTC Police Commissioner Aurelio Torres, Patino and their families.

“My family has been with me every step of the way and them believing in me and being proud of me has made all of the difference,” said Becerra.

Sentiments echoed by Ruiz.

“What I have achieved could not have been done without the support and love of my family. Everything I’ve done has been for my boys and to do my best for them every single day,” said Ruiz. “And also, I owe a lot to my mentor, teacher and friend Commissioner Torres for taking me under his wing.”

Ruiz added that TSTC is promoted as a great place to work, but for someone like her, who actually looks forward to coming to work now, it’s so much more than just a line or hashtag, it’s a promise and a dream come true.

To find job opportunities at TSTC or to apply, visit tstc.jobs.


TSTC Auto Collision Student Receives National Scholarship

(WACO, Texas) – A Texas State Technical College student has received a prestigious Women’s Industry Network scholarship.

Jennifer Watson, an Auto Collision and Management Technology student from Moody, was awarded the WIN College Tuition and Conference Scholarship Award.

Clint Campbell, the statewide department chair of TSTC’s Auto Collision and Management department, encouraged Watson to apply for the scholarship.

“We’ve only had three or four students ever receive that scholarship,” Campbell said. “She’s a very good student. She pays attention to detail, is hardworking and asks a lot of questions to make her work better.”

After submitting an essay and being interviewed, Watson received the scholarship.

“I was at my daughter’s talent show when I got the call,” Watson said.

Watson and other scholarship recipients receive a $1,000 scholarship, along with an all-expense-paid trip to the 2019 WIN Educational Conference.

“She’s a great student and the perfect person to get that scholarship because she will make use of it,” said Tracy Marshall, senior instructor for Auto Collision and Management at TSTC. “It gets her out into a different kind of world and opens up her social network contact.”

The conference took place May 6 through May 8 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“Most sessions are about auto collision and the technology coming up,” Watson said.

She also had the opportunity to be mentored by one of the 2019 Most Influential Women Honorees or a member of the WIN Board of Directors.

“There are women at this conference that I can relate to,” Watson said. “I think that was my biggest thing was getting into a network with women I can identify myself with.”

Before attending TSTC, Watson held numerous jobs. She served six years in the military as a helicopter mechanic after high school.

“The military is all about organization, timelines and being prompt,” Watson said. “I do believe if I went to college out of high school, I wouldn’t have been successful. But coming after I was able to be focused and dedicated to what I had to do.”

After the military, Watson found a job with DynCorp (now DynCorp International).

“I worked for DynCorp for 12 years and decided it was time to go back to my passion: working on cars again and restoring them,” Watson said.

Watson said she has loved every minute of her time at TSTC.

“If you go into a career that you’re not happy with, it makes things miserable,” Watson said. “Once you find something you have a passion and love for, that’s where you’ll be the rest of your life. It makes it easier to get out of bed.”

For more information on the Women’s Industry Network, visit thewomensindustrynetwork.site-ym.com.

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

TSTC Alumna Looking to Set Example in Construction

(WACO, Texas) – As a child, Taylor Allen looked up to her grandfather who was a blueprint consultant. Now, years later, she has earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Building Construction Technology from Texas State Technical College.

She received the degree at TSTC’s Spring 2019 Commencement recently held in Waco.

“I was always the crafty kid in school, and coming here I took it to a bigger scale,” said Allen, 20, of Waco. “I love being able to draw something and then build it with my own hands.”

Allen’s bubbly personality and work ethic helped her excel in the classroom.

“She’s a great, hardworking student,” said Herschel Miller, a TSTC Building Construction Technology instructor. “She’s always on top of things and studies very hard. She takes pride in her work, and she’s got good leadership skills.”

Allen’s leadership abilities landed her the role of president of Beta Gamma Tau, the construction-oriented, co-educational student organization. She also helped give tours to potential students.

“They used me to give tours to students because I can connect with them on a level that older people can’t,” Allen said. “I show students the different opportunities they have here. You don’t have to go to a big university.”

Miller said Allen helped assist her classmates as well.

“She’s always willing to help somebody in need,” Miller said. “I see her in the break room doing that.”

Allen was chosen to lead many projects for her class assignments. She hopes to translate that into her career.

“I’m really aiming for project manager,” Allen said. “I’m going to make sure it’s done right and that ethics and morals are in place. It goes back to giving people what they want.”

Eventually she wants to start her own business.

“I could see myself starting my own business up. That’s ultimately my goal,” Allen said. “Let me be an owner. Let me be in charge and get it done right.”

Allen is excited about the opportunities in the construction field. However, she is still going to miss her time at TSTC.

“I’m going to miss the acceptance, and I’m going to miss the teamwork,” Allen said. “It’s something different every day. One day you can be drawing a house; the next day you can be making a ‘barndominium’. Each class is something different.”

Allen encourages other women to follow her lead in pursuing a career in construction.

“I want to work as hard as the guys, and I love it,” Allen said. “I need these girls to realize we can do it, and we will.”

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


TSTC Profile of Excellence – Hector Rosa

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Hector Rosa graduated last week from Texas State Technical College with an associate degree in Building Construction Technology.

Hector RosaBut that’s not all. Before even putting on his cap and gown, the 40-year-old had a job offer in hand and started this week with Morton Buildings in Houston as a Level 1 carpenter.

When did you first learn about your job offer?

I learned about this job offer the week of commencement. I had other job offers leading up to this, but Morton’s made me an offer I could not refuse. Receiving these job offers, these opportunities, is exciting; it’s a new chapter for me. This just goes to show that you can accomplish anything at any age.

How did TSTC prepare you for your career?

TSTC’s Building Construction Technology is amazing, and not only because I graduated from the program. The majority of the training you receive is hands-on, real-world training and exposes you to nearly everything you will face out in the workforce. And of course, none of it would be possible without experienced and knowledgeable instructors who showed us the right way, gave one-on-one instruction if needed and always pushed us to do our best.

Who has had the greatest influence on your success?

The person with the greatest influence on my success is my wife. She has my back and supports me no matter what. When times get tough and I feel like quitting, she’s right there cheering me on and motivating me to keep going. This is a second career for me after working many years as a supervisor at a local juvenile detention center, and she always told me the sacrifice we made when I came to TSTC would be worth it.

What are your future goals?

My goal is to return to TSTC as a Building Construction Technology instructor. My instructors have made such a great impact in my life that I want to do the same for others.

What would you tell a student thinking of pursuing a two-year degree vs. a four-year degree?

I would tell a student that a two-year degree moves you ahead and gives you benefits that a four-year degree does not. With a technical degree, you have a leg up in industry because you have the skills that are in demand, making you more marketable among companies, which in turn provides a great career with great pay.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

When the road gets tough, don’t give up. Keep your head high and your eye on the prize. I promise, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


TSTC dual enrollment students choose TSTC as their college

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – For high school seniors, picking a college can be stressful. But for a handful of Rio Grande Valley high school students, choosing Texas State Technical College was an easy decision.

Recently several technical dual enrollment seniors signed a “Change of Major” form, marking the transition from high school student to college student, during TSTC’s first Senior Spotlight signing event at the Dr. J. Gilbert Leal Learning Resource Center on campus.

“We hosted this event to celebrate these students’ accomplishments and to welcome them to the TSTC family,” said TSTC dual enrollment recruitment representative Sarai Duran. “We’re so proud of them and are excited that they chose TSTC as their college.”

Technical dual enrollment provides high school students the opportunity to take college courses and earn simultaneous college and high school credit in a technical program.

College courses are available at some high school campuses through a credentialed instructor, through distance learning classes taught by a TSTC instructor, and on-site at TSTC.

The students recognized during Senior Spotlight have completed at least one semester in a technical program such as Auto Collision and Management Technology or Wind Energy Technology and will attend TSTC in Fall 2019 to pursue a certificate or associate degree.

There are currently 13 dual enrollment pathways at TSTC that high school juniors and seniors can pursue. At the end of each pathway, the student completes an average of 12 semester credit hours, or one semester of study.

“Completing four courses within a program while still in high school not only gives these students a head start, but it is also a money saver for them and their families,” said Duran.

As a dual enrollment student, each student’s tuition, books and supplies are covered by the school district they attend.

For Lyford High School senior Orlando Gonzalez, dual enrollment was a game changer, and he said he is looking forward to becoming what he calls a “full-fledged” TSTC student in the Auto Collision and Management Technology program.

He was bused in every morning from Lyford to attend classes on campus.

“To have this kind of opportunity is invaluable to me and my future,” said the 19-year-old. “I love working with my hands, and I never thought a university was for me, so I’m lucky to have found a college where I can pursue my interests while still working toward a rewarding career.”

He also said that being a dual enrollment student has made his transition from high school to college less nerve-wracking and has saved him time and money.

In fact, at the Senior Spotlight, Gonzalez’s name was drawn for a $1,000 scholarship that can be used for tuition, books or tools.

“Dual enrollment has allowed college to be less of a financial burden for my family, and this scholarship takes it to the next level,” he said. “I’m very excited to be joining the TSTC family in the fall.”

Gonzalez will be graduating from Lyford High School at the end of the month.

Representatives of several TSTC programs, along with staff from enrollment, student life and housing, were available at the event to answer questions and give parents and students more information about the college and their transition.

“Our goal with dual enrollment is to capture a student’s interest in college while still in high school and give them the opportunity to discover their interests,” said Duran.

“Many middle-skilled jobs in Texas are in demand, and those jobs make up half of the labor market. These students are going to get those jobs because most students who complete dual credit are more likely to complete their degree,” she said.

Duran added that many of TSTC’s graduates have jobs waiting for them when they graduate, and TSTC’s industry partners actively recruit them.

For more information on the programs offered at TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

Popular former TSTC president honored with plaque

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – It has been more than 10 years since J. Gilbert Leal retired as president of Texas State Technical College in Harlingen. But at a recent plaque presentation ceremony hosted in his honor at the TSTC Learning Resource Center that bears his name, it was evident that his educational legacy lives on.

“He is the true legend of TSTC’s Harlingen campus,” said TSTC Vice Chancellor, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel Ray Rushing. “He started many of the strategies, programs and partnerships this college has seen. It takes a true visionary, and Gilbert Leal is the man, the myth and the legend.”Dr. J. Gilbert Leal

Leal served TSTC for 30 years before retiring in 2008 and being named president emeritus by the TSTC Board of Regents. The college’s library was named in his honor as the Dr. J. Gilbert Leal Learning Resource Center.

“Everything Gilbert Leal did during his service to the college had a ripple effect,” said TSTC Provost Cledia Hernandez. “And he continues to invest in the region’s education and continues to serve our campus wholeheartedly.”

When Leal started as an Adult Basic Education instructor in 1969 while TSTC was still Texas State Technical Institute, the campus sat on only 25 acres, had four buildings and enrolled 67 students.

“To this day we see the impact that Gilbert Leal had on our campus,” said Hernandez. “What we are today comes from taking risks and thinking big, and that is how Gilbert helped TSTC in our region grow.”

At the ceremony, Leal was presented with a commemorative plaque that reads, “In recognition of and in appreciation for your commitment and support to Texas State Technical College.”

The Texas-shaped plaque was designed and manufactured by students in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program.

Dr. J. Gilbert Leal“When I’m at TSTC, I am home,” said Leal. “The people here are my family.”

To put into perspective how far TSTC has come, Leal mentioned that the Learning Resource Center is situated on land once occupied by a recreational vehicle park.

“TSTC has become a respected technical college that plays a major role in the development of technical skills needed to meet industry demand,” said Leal. “And it’s important to remember why we’re here: for the students.”

Leal said his favorite thing about TSTC is how it changes lives and inspires students to greatness.

“Learning and teaching are at the forefront of everything TSTC does,” he said. “Not only is it a great place to learn, but it is also a great place to work, which is a benefit to the students who walk through this campus. So keep up the great work, TSTC, and know you have my continued support. You can’t keep me away.”

For more information about the programs offered at TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Joins Ben Barber Innovation Academy for National Signing Day 2019

(WACO, Texas) – Representatives of Texas State Technical College and the Ben Barber Innovation Academy in Mansfield honored two students on Wednesday during National Signing Day 2019 co-sponsored by SkillsUSA and Klein Tools.

Nick Crook, a senior at Legacy High School in Mansfield, and Juan Vela, a senior at Summit High School in Arlington, both take classes at the career and technical education academy and will attend TSTC in Waco this fall.

“Today was important to see kids pursue careers in trade skills and compete in the future at the postsecondary level at SkillsUSA at TSTC,” said Kendal Carrillo, TSTC’s executive director of national competition and a TSTC industry relations officer.

Crook and Vela signed SkillsUSA and Klein Tools certificates dedicating themselves to their continued education and signifying their commitment to the construction field.

“I wish you guys all the success as you move forward,” said Michael Klein, director of Klein Tools’ Klein Business Systems in Mansfield.

Crook will receive a $1,500 TSTC scholarship to study Building Construction Technology this fall. He was a member of the academy’s statewide third-place-winning SkillsUSA TeamWorks team in 2018.

“I am excited,” Crook said. “I can’t wait to get down to TSTC to work on my future.”

Vela will receive a $6,000 TSTC scholarship and study Welding Technology this fall. He placed first in welding at this year’s SkillsUSA state conference in Corpus Christi and will represent Texas at the 55th annual SkillsUSA Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference in June in Louisville, Kentucky.

“It’s cool and exciting,” Vela said. “I’m excited to learn everything TSTC has to teach me about welding.”

Crook and Vela’s signings were symbolic of the academy’s purpose.

“The trades industry is booming,” said Catherine Hudgins, the academy’s principal. “I get calls weekly from companies in Mansfield looking for employees. The students are taught 21st-century skills. Our goal at Ben Barber is to deliver the whole package.”

The academy, which is in the Mansfield Independent School District, was one of 12 high schools in Texas and among 300 high schools in the country participating in National Signing Day 2019.

This was the first time SkillsUSA and Klein Tools have sponsored National Signing Day.

The day’s focus was for high school seniors to “sign” their intent to pursue career and technical education and careers upon graduation. The format is similar to athletic scholarship signings that take place in high school sports.

For more information on SkillsUSA, go to skillsusa.org.

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

TSTC Joins Ben Barber Innovation Academy for National Signing Day 2019


TSTC Holds Spring Commencement in Waco

(WACO, Texas) – More than 500 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Spring 2019 Commencement held Tuesday, May 7, at the Waco Convention Center.

Many of the graduates already have jobs.

David De La Hoya of Italy, Texas, received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Imaging Systems Technology. He will start this month as a field service technician at CardioQuip in Bryan.

“It feels great because I am the first generation in my family to graduate college,” De La Hoya said.

De La Hoya said his motivation in graduating from college was being a good role model for his cousins and siblings.

De La Hoya said he would miss playing basketball at TSTC’s Murray Watson Jr. Student Recreation Center  and being a resident advisor.

Kaylynn Lawson earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts. She will continue working as a cook at Kissing Tree Vineyards in Eddy.

She said her time at TSTC was challenging.

“It’s been tough, but if you push through it, you can do anything you put your mind to,” Lawson said.

Some of the graduates will continue job hunting.

Ethan Sessums of Whitney received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Environmental Technology Compliance and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Occupational Safety Compliance Technology.

“I am glad I picked the programs I did,” he said. “I liked the mock scenarios and incident prevention. I am ready to start my next journey.”

Sessums planned to celebrate with his relatives at a local restaurant after the ceremony.

TSTC has more than 1,000 students graduating this spring across the state.

For more information, go to www.tstc.edu.

TSTC Holds Spring Commencement in Waco