Tag Archives: Sweetwater

Two TSTC Employees Recognized With Statewide Award

(Sweetwater) – Two employees at Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater have been honored for their outstanding service and dedication to TSTC.

James Spivey, a building maintenance supervisor, and Karen Waller, chief of staff of Strategic Relations, have received TSTC’s Chancellor’s Excellence Awards.

“Yearly, the Chancellor’s Excellence Award honors those who have consistently demonstrated a work ethic above and beyond their job descriptions, which aligns with our core values of excellence, accountability, service and integrity. On a daily basis James Spivey and Karen Waller exemplify these values; hence, their induction into this elite group is well deserved,” Rick Denbow, provost at TSTC in West Texas, said.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001 and has been given to more than 300 TSTC employees statewide. Recipients are nominated by their peers for their work toward advancing the technical college’s mission.

“The teammates who win this award model excellence for us all and are recognized for both their sound character and for advancing TSTC’s new direction,” said TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser. “Due to their caring and dedicated efforts, TSTC continues to make a difference in the employment success of our students.”

Spivey joined TSTC in 2016 as a maintenance worker and quickly moved up to a leadership role. He was surprised to learn he had won the award but sees it as a win for his team.

“This means my team is working really hard because they are the ones that make me look good. I am exceptionally proud of them, and I am personally flattered,” he said.

Spivey’s first encounter with TSTC was when he was in high school taking welding courses at what was then known as Texas State Technical Institute. He says fate must have been sending him a sign because he decided to work at TSTC after reconnecting with his high school sweetheart, another TSTC employee, who is now his wife.

“This is my home. A lot of places you work at they don’t even know your name, but here there is compassion. I will be here for as long as TSTC will have me,” he said.

Spivey said this is the first time he has received recognition for his work from a company.

Waller felt honored to win the award and said it fueled her passion even more.

“I truly appreciate that my peers felt I deserve this honor. Our work at TSTC is important because we can affect so many lives and have a positive impact in a student’s life and career,” she said.

Waller has dedicated her career to education and has worked the last 26 years in education administration. She started at TSTC in 2012 and promotes educational partnerships with other community colleges, universities and industry leaders.

“I am very proud of my accomplishments at TSTC and plan to continue to make TSTC a great place to work and also a great place for our students to get an education. We are here to educate our students and provide them with a foundation that will serve them the rest of their lives,” she said.

A Snyder native, Waller has lived and worked in the West Texas area her whole life. She is a certified public accountant and has a bachelor’s degree in interior design and a master’s degree in income tax accounting from Texas Tech University.

Spivey and Waller will join 33 other TSTC employees statewide who will be honored at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Excellence Awards Dinner and Celebration in May in Austin.

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

James Spivey, from Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, is a building maintenance supervisor. He was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 

Karen Waller, from Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, is chief of staff of Strategic Relations. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 

Two TSTC Alumni Recognized For Outstanding Service as TSTC Employees

(Sweetwater) – The journey from student to employee has come full circle for two Texas State Technical College alumni who have been honored for their dedication and skills as employees at TSTC in Sweetwater.

Maria Aguirre, statewide senior executive director of Communication and Creative Services, and Elizabeth Reyes, graphic designer, have received TSTC’s Chancellor’s Excellence Awards.

“The Chancellor’s Excellence Award is a yearly recognition for teammates who consistently go above and beyond their normal job duties to improve our students’, and/or our College’s, success. Maria and Liz display, on a daily basis, these lofty attributes,” Rick Denbow, provost at TSTC in West Texas, said.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001 and has been given to more than 300 TSTC employees statewide. Recipients are nominated by their peers for their work toward advancing the technical college’s mission.

“The teammates who win this award model excellence for us all and are recognized for both their sound character and for advancing TSTC’s new direction,” said TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser. “Due to their caring and dedicated efforts, TSTC continues to make a difference in the employment success of our students.”

Aguirre graduated from TSTC in Sweetwater in 1986 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in General Office Technology, an Associate of Applied Science degree in Accounting Systems and a Certificate of Completion in Information Processing. Starting as a student switchboard operator in a work-study program, Aguirre has been employed by TSTC for over 34 years.

“I have dedicated my adult life to TSTC, and I believe in it. I have seen how it changes individuals and families and generations of families — how it can have a positive impact. It’s been my life, and I am honored to be a recipient,” Aguirre said.

She was the first in her family to attend college and has since earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees while moving up within TSTC. She is also a recipient of the Avery Award of Excellence for TSTC staff.

Aguirre is a member of multiple educational organizations and has held several leadership positions as well. She is currently treasurer of the Texas Association of Community College Marketers.

Reyes was surprised to learn she won the award and was overwhelmed with emotion.

“This award means everything; I almost started to cry. It means I’m doing right by the people who hired me and by TSTC,” Reyes said.

Reyes graduated from TSTC in Waco in 2013 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Graphic Design and Advertising, and from TSTC in Sweetwater in 2014 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Software and Business Management. During her time as a student, Reyes worked as a campus housing resident assistant and a secretary for TSTC.

“I hope I can inspire others as my mentors here have inspired me. I am so thankful to TSTC in so many ways because they have shown me that they care about me and treat me like family,” Reyes said.

Reyes has worked with TSTC for over five years and plans to keep growing with TSTC.

Aguirre and Reyes will join 33 other TSTC employees statewide who will be honored at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Excellence Awards Dinner and Celebration in May in Austin.

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

Maria Aguirre, from Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, is the statewide senior executive director of Communication and Creative Services. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 
Elizabeth Reyes, from Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, is a graphic designer. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. 

TSTC Hosts Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Information Seminar

(Sweetwater) – April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and Texas State Technical College is helping to raise awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence by partnering with representatives from Hendrick Medical Center and Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital to provide information seminars.

A session was held on the TSTC campus in Sweetwater on Friday, April 12, and more are scheduled for the summer and fall semesters.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women and one in nine men are victims of sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner.

Griselda Sanchez, director of Student Services at TSTC in Sweetwater, said she sees this as an opportunity to delve further into the information already given to faculty, staff and students.

“TSTC makes sure to have these discussions with everyone once they get on board with us. But, it’s important for us to give our people in-depth information of how to prevent, report and help those suffering from sexual assault or domestic violence because it can happen to anyone, anywhere,” Sanchez said.

Stephanie Lebowitz, trauma coordinator and emergency manager for Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital, led the domestic violence information session, while Ann Marie Willoughby, outreach clinical lead for Hendrick Medical Center, led the sexual assault session.

Lebowitz stressed the importance of empowering victims and educating residents of rural areas.

“The attorney general has recognized the prevalence of abuse in rural areas, and the lack of reporting and resources available.  So, we have been given the means to educate, spread awareness and help unite communities to rally around these victims and help them,” Lebowitz said.

Lebowitz and Willoughby said people think of domestic violence and sexual assault as separate, but they can be interconnected.

“Sexual assault is more common than burglary on most college campuses. I’m not saying TSTC, but at colleges in general students have a chance of being assaulted, and we want to educate them, and faculty and staff, so they can help each other,” Willoughby said.

For TSTC automotive instructor John Kirchmeier, the message hit home.

“Everything they said was spot-on. It’s important for us to know this information because we are with the students every day, and we may see something. We have to be the first line of defense,” Kirchmeier said.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at 800-656-HOPE (4673). The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 800-799-SAFE (7233).

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

Students, faculty and staff listened to presentations about domestic violence and sexual assault from representatives from Hendrick Medical Center and Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital.

##

More Than 50 Companies Represented at TSTC Industry Job Fair

(SWEETWATER) – More than 180 Texas State Technical College students and alumni attended the TSTC Industry Job Fair in Sweetwater on Tuesday, April 2. They had the opportunity to meet representatives from some 50 local, national and international companies.

TSTC provided free transportation to the Sweetwater campus for students coming from the Abilene, Breckenridge and Brownwood campuses. Students talked with representatives from companies looking to fill positions in various fields such as diesel, electrical power and controls, industrial maintenance, nursing, welding, and wind energy.

It was the first time some companies had visited the West Texas campus.

“I was surprised that TSTC had an RN program out here, and now that I know, we fully intend to take advantage of having this local resource,” Tara Camp, community marketing liaison for Cogdell Memorial Hospital, said.

For others, this was an event marked on their calendar every year.

“I go to as many of the job fairs that TSTC does as possible because of the type of training the students get and just the type of personality these students have. Their hands-on experience shows, and they have the willingness to keep learning on the job,” Bret A. Martinets, Human Resources manager at M&S Engineering, said.

The event was a homecoming for TSTC diesel program alumnus Josh McBride of Bruckner’s Truck Sales Inc.

“I hope these students just keep their eyes open and learn from every opportunity because it pays off,” McBride said.

Representatives from Oncor Electric Delivery spoke with students from TSTC’s Electrical Power and Controls, Industrial Maintenance, and Wind Energy programs and offered on-site interviews.

“We’ve got 10 positions we need to fill in Odessa alone, so there is a huge need across the state,” Brad Villa, M&C supervisor at Oncor, said.

TSTC in Abilene Electrical Power and Controls student Anthony Neighbors said he was impressed with the company turnout and hopes to find a job that allows him to travel.

“I’m a single dad, so I want something that provides for my son but that also lets me enjoy new places,” Neighbors said.

Neighbors spoke with representatives from Koenig & Bauer and said he felt like he had found the place for him.

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

More than 180 students and alumni attended the TSTC Industry Job Fair at TSTC in Sweetwater. More than 50 companies were represented. 

TSTC Nursing Student Prepares for Three-peat at SkillsUSA

(SWEETWATER) – Winning is so nice, she did it twice. Now Kacee Merrifield wants it again, and so does one of her classmates.

Merrifield is a nursing student enrolled in the associate degree program at Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater. She has competed at SkillsUSA two years in a row, winning state both times and placing nationally.

“It’s a very validating feeling when you get to test your skills against others in your industry, but it’s so much more than just winning a medal,” Merrifield said.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. In 2017 Merrifield placed first in state for Health Knowledge Bowl, continuing on to win fourth at nationals. In 2018 she won first in state for Nurse Assisting and sixth at nationals. She will compete in Practical Nursing this year.

“I love that SkillsUSA offers a platform to meet other professionals. You meet so many people and make friends and get to travel. I really enjoyed what Skills has done for me,” Merrifield said.

Hoping to win his second first-place title is fellow nursing student Corbin Calsoncin. Calsoncin and Merrifield both graduated from TSTC in Breckenridge with a certificate of completion in Vocational Nursing in 2018. Calsoncin is also currently enrolled in the nursing program at TSTC in Sweetwater.

“I was nervous my first couple times I competed, but I feel better now and am more prepared,” Calsoncin said.

Calsoncin placed second at state in Medical Math in 2017, but placed first in Math in 2018 and went on to place ninth at nationals. Calsoncin will compete in Medical Math again this year.

Not only do Merrifield and Calsoncin compete in SkillsUSA at the collegiate level, but they also judge the high school level.

“Judging is a chance for them to give back and share their experiences with others,” Marchelle Taylor, TSTC nursing instructor and West Texas SkillsUSA coordinator, said. “Skills allows them to interact with other students and industry around the state and nation.”

Merrifield and Calsoncin will compete at the SkillsUSA 2019 Leadership and Skills Conference on April 12-14 at TSTC in Waco.

Both students encourage anyone interested in nursing to visit TSTC and take advantage of the opportunities available with SkillsUSA.

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

TSTC in Sweetwater nursing students Corbin Calsoncin, left, and Kacee Merrifield, right, prepare to compete at SkillsUSA in April. 

TSTC Student Veteran Uses Education to Fuel Future

(Sweetwater) – How would you define a hero? As a parent? As a soldier? Texas State Technical College student Roy Banda is all of that and more.

Banda, 32, is a former Marine now pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology at TSTC in Sweetwater while fostering five children at home in Brownwood.

“I was working in a factory, with no way to move up anymore. So I talked to my wife, and now I’m using my GI Bill to create a career,” Banda said.

Banda served four years in the Marine Corps as a rifleman between 2007 and 2011, with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“My time in the Marines helped me a lot with discipline, obedience and work ethic in everyday actions and now school,” Banda said.

One example of Banda’s self-discipline is his dedication to be early for class each day, despite an almost two-hour commute.

“I drive half the distance Roy does every day, and he still manages to get here before me,” Mark Koslan, master instructor for DET, said. “He is dedicated, he’s a family man, he’s a veteran, and I have a lot of respect for him and his initiative to find a career path.”

Even though Banda attends school full time, he and his wife have a houseful of six kids, five of whom are foster children they plan to adopt.

“We decided to foster just to help out, then fell in love with them,” Banda said.

Banda will compete in Diesel Equipment Technology at the SkillsUSA 2019 Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference on April 12-14 at TSTC in Waco.

“I was nervous when I first agreed because I hadn’t really had any mechanical training before TSTC. But, just in the couple semesters I’ve been here I feel much more confident,” Banda said.  “One of the Marine Corps’ mottos is to adapt and overcome, so I’ll use that.”

Banda is expected to graduate in spring 2020 and plans to build a positive reputation so he can open a shop of his own.

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

TSTC in Sweetwater Diesel Equipment Technology student, veteran and parent Roy Banda, will compete at SkillsUSA in April. 

TSTC Alumnus Boosts Wind Energy Production

(Sweetwater) – There is change in the air: a change toward renewable energy. And Texas State Technical College alumnus John Nichols is a driving force behind that change.

Nichols graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology from TSTC in Sweetwater in 2010.

He is now employed by North Dakota-based Wanzek Construction. He served as the company’s vice president of renewable energy from 2016 to 2018 and is now its senior director of business development.

Nichols credits his time at TSTC, coupled with hard work, for his success in helping to lead the charge for wind energy. He encourages others to take advantage of the rewarding industry.

“Wind energy is something exciting to be part of, and there is no better time than now to be part of the renewable energy revolution,” Nichols said.

Nichols was a nontraditional student who sold his successful real estate business in 2007 to pursue his passion for renewable energy.

“I remember John very well,” Rick Denbow, TSTC in West Texas provost, said. “Wind energy was an emerging industry at the time in far West Texas, but John saw how a technical degree from TSTC could prepare him for a great-paying career in the wind industry. I am not surprised by his success.”

After graduating from TSTC, Nichols worked for Siemens Gamesa, where he was promoted five times in six years, eventually becoming field engineering manager.

“I got to travel the world while moving up in the company,” Nichols said. “I spent 18 months in Brazil, Chile, Peru and other parts of Latin America working on wind energy projects.”

At Wanzek Construction, Nichols plays an active role in identifying new and creative ways to keep wind competitive in the renewable energy market.

“With new technology coming and the offshore market growing, we’re seeing a decrease in cost for wind energy, which makes it even more competitive with fossil fuels,” Nichols said.

In Texas, wind energy makes up 14.89 percent of energy produced statewide, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“It’s an industry on the upswing, and it’s an industry people from all walks of life can be successful in,” Billie Jones, TSTC Wind Energy Technology statewide department chair, said.

Part of Nichols’ success, and what he looks for when recruiting new talent, is common sense and life experience.

“It’s important to have a passion and interest for this field. But also to be a good technician you have to have some common sense and be comfortable around machinery. You need to be reliable and be willing to do the work,” said Nichols.

Nichols hopes others will recognize the potential available to them in wind energy.

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

TSTC in Sweetwater alumnus John Nichols helps to lead the charge for wind energy. 

TSTC in Sweetwater Partners With Local High Schools

(Sweetwater) – It’s time to start the engines and drive toward the future for many area high school students.Thanks to a partnership between their schools and Texas State Technical College, students can earn early college credit.

TSTC established a dual enrollment Automotive Technology program for Brownwood and Snyder high school sophomores, juniors and seniors in the fall of 2018, at no cost to the students themselves.

Those students can earn up to 12 college credit hours toward a certificate or an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology and work at a local internship.  

“I feel it’s important for schools to show every viable option to our students and give them a heads-up,” Lindsay Smith, assistant principal at Brownwood High School, said.  “Our long-term hope is that we can get these students internships at facilities in Brownwood and eventually fill a need for auto techs in the community.”

Students attend class at their high school facilities but follow a carefully structured curriculum created by Rudy Cervantez, the statewide department chair for TSTC Automotive Technology.

The curriculum follows the Automotive Service Excellence Educational Foundation Alliance for Maintenance and Light Repair Standards. Students spend their sophomore and junior years working on the curriculum and their senior year working at an internship.  

“Since these schools already offer shop class, why not jump-start these students and have something to show their families that they’re working toward their futures?” Cervantez asked.

TSTC works with the instructors to ensure that they are Automotive Service Excellence-certified and the facilities have the right equipment.

“This is great for the students because it allows them to start early and complete early, and start earning money early,” Brian Lee, automotive instructor at Brownwood High School, said. “They can find their niche and know they’ve got a lot of jobs waiting on them because there is a huge need for technicians.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas is the second-leading state employing automotive service technicians and mechanics.

“It allows us to promote different higher education and career opportunities to the students, which encourages them to do well in school now so they can pursue all the options available to them,” Janell Martin, principal at Snyder High School, said.

Students follow the same syllabi and curriculum as they would if they were in an actual classroom at TSTC.

Brownwood High School has 30 students in the program, while Snyder High School has nine.  

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

Snyder High School students enrolled in the Automotive dual credit program with TSTC in Sweetwater replace an old car battery.