Tag Archives: Texas

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’s EMS Program Turns Experience Into College Credit

Time for an upgrade? The Emergency Medical Services program at Texas State Technical College in Abilene recently created a program that brings more opportunity to current and future students.

The EMS program now gives certified paramedics and emergency medical technicians college credit for some certifications they already have. The certifications are transferred toward earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Emergency Medical Services Paramedic to becoming licensed paramedics.

“We are offering an opportunity for students who already have some experience,” said Ronnie Pitts, an EMS instructor and the college’s statewide department chair. “We evaluate the certifications they have already obtained, and they can transfer those certifications toward our degree plan here at TSTC.”

To take advantage of the program’s credit by certification, a student must already be a certified EMT or paramedic.

“When these students graduate, they will have a college degree on top of all the previous certifications they already obtained to work in the field to be more marketable in their job hunt. It helps our students save time and money, and to increase their growth in the field,” Pitts said.

Pitts stated that students can save time because instead of having to retake the basic courses to be admitted into a paramedic program, TSTC will accept the Texas Department of State Health Services certifications as college credit after a student credit evaluation is completed along with a $25 fee per course that is transferred. Students are only required to take 15 hours, or 20 percent, of the degree plan at TSTC to earn the associate degree.

Randall Noe, a firefighter/paramedic with the Mineral Wells Fire Department, earned his certifications through another institution and was able to transfer all of his credits to TSTC.

“I want the degree because it can further your career,” Noe said. “I’m able to earn it online, so it doesn’t interfere with my work schedule much.”

This will be Noe’s first degree. He is expected to graduate in summer of 2019.

Zachary Henderson, a firefighter/paramedic with the Baytown Fire Department, earned his EMT basic certification at TSTC but his paramedic certification through a third party.

“My time at TSTC really helped me in the long run because it laid the foundation for other training,” Henderson said. “My goal is to become a teacher, and the degree is important to have because it gives me that option and the opportunity to go even further with my degree and get a bachelor’s.”

Henderson chose the program with TSTC because he can complete it online while still working in the Houston area. Henderson is expected to graduate with his associate degree in spring of 2019.  

Once a student graduates from the program and passes the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam, he or she can work with emergency medical services, schools, hospitals or as safety officers.

TSTC’s EMS program is always accepting applications and hosts an information session every Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Industrial Technology Center at 2082 Quantum Loop in Abilene.

For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC in Abilene is offering state certified paramedics and ETMs the opportunity to earn an Associate degree and work toward becoming a licensed paramedic.

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 Program Partners with Walker Sayle Unit to Combat Substance Abuse

(BRECKENRIDGE) – Texas State Technical College’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Walker Sayle Unit, a substance abuse felony punishment facility, are working together to change lives and fill a need in the Texas workforce.

A report filed by the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services to the 86th Legislature showed that 1.6 million adult Texans suffer from a substance use disorder (SUD). Furthermore, Texas has only about 17 SUD care providers per 1,000 of these adults, the third lowest in the nation.

To help combat this crisis, students enrolled in TSTC’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program can work as interns and later be considered for employment at the Sayle Unit.

“It’s hard to find staff in this industry because you have to have a passion for it and it’s a lot of work,” Kemberlee Lively, program director at the Sayle Unit, said. “About 90 percent of our staff comes from TSTC because they have a hands-on knowledge base and are open to our input. These students come here and do exactly what we need them to do.”

The TSTC Chemical Dependency Counseling program allows students to earn a certificate of completion or an Associate of Applied Science degree to become licensed chemical dependency counselor interns. This provides a career pathway to become licensed chemical dependency counselors.

“There is an opportunity to help those individuals who this may be their last chance for recovery,” Patty Bundick, TSTC Chemical Dependency Counseling program chair and senior instructor, said. “Many students are people in recovery or have a family member who suffered from an addiction and see it as a chance to give back to society and now want to help someone else in their recovery.”

For Sayle Unit Assistant Program Director Shana Vandergriff, TSTC offered her the chance for a career and to help others.

“I recommend TSTC, for sure, because I went there. I know what the students are learning, and TSTC helped me,” Vandergriff said. “(TSTC) made it easy for me as a single mom … in recovery to get enrolled. They still are like my family to this day when I go visit,” Vandergriff said.

Vandergriff graduated in 2011 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Chemical Dependency Counseling. She did her practicum as a student at the Sayle Unit.

Vandergriff encourages anyone who feels a calling and enjoys helping others succeed to consider the field.

“There is a huge need for people in this industry, and we are almost always hiring,” she said.

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

TSTC in Breckenridge Chemical Dependency Counseling students work with Walker Sayle to combat substance abuse.

Brownwood Firefighters Further Education in TSTC EMS Program

(BROWNWOOD) – Not all heroes wear capes, but some do arrive in big red fire trucks.

Three Brownwood firefighters, Ron Groom, John Hendrix and Justin Prince, volunteered to further their education and attend the Texas State Technical College Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program in Brownwood to become paramedics. It almost requires superhuman strength for them to maintain a full-time class schedule while being ready to fight fires and help save lives in their community.

“Any higher level of skill we can have is a benefit to the community. We usually are the first on scene, not always, but a majority of the time. So anything we can do to help is a benefit to everyone,” Groom, captain of the Brownwood Fire Department, said.

Firefighters in Texas are required to have training as basic emergency medical technicians. This is the first group from the Brownwood Fire Department to pursue paramedic licenses, the highest level for EMS responders.

“I, personally, and most firefighters want to be the best firefighters we can be. With our call volume being a majority of EMS, it’s essential that we have that training to be the best on those calls,” said Hendrix, who is a driver for the Brownwood Fire Department and a part-time firefighter with the Early Fire Department.

Besides providing a higher level of service for the community, becoming a paramedic offers an opportunity for promotion within a fire station and is a bonus when applying with other stations.

“For anyone in this field today, education is extremely important, whether it’s as a firefighter or in EMS,” Groom said. “To be in those higher-up or leadership roles, they’re asking for more education on top of having that paramedic license. So it’s important if you want to pursue that.”

According to projections by O*Net Online, Texas can expect increases in emergency medical technician and paramedic jobs of 20 percent and municipal firefighter jobs of 17 percent by 2026.

“There’s a huge need for first responders. Paramedics, especially in the Brownwood area, are in large demand. These guys are helping to fill a need in the community,” Stephanie Young, EMS instructor at TSTC, said.

Working in a smaller department has benefits because firefighters train in a variety of fields, but it also offers challenges.

“Just because it says ‘fire department’ doesn’t mean it’s just fire,” Prince, lieutenant with the Brownwood Fire Department, said. “We’re considered a jack-of-all-trades, so if they don’t know who to call, they call us. We need to be prepared.”

The Brownwood Fire Department encourages anyone interested in becoming a firefighter or entering an EMS field to visit the station or TSTC and ask questions.

Groom, Hendrix and Prince are expected to graduate in spring 2020. For more information on

Texas State Technical College, log on to tstc.edu.


Three Brownwood firefighters, pictured left to right, John Hendrix, Ron Groom and Justin Prince, are working toward their paramedic associate degrees at TSTC in Brownwood.

TSTC Student Exemplifies Dual Enrollment Success

(Brownwood) – Education means opportunity, and no one values that more than Alan Acosta, a Welding Technology student at Texas State Technical College in Brownwood.  

Acosta plans to be the first member of his immediate family, who immigrated from Mexico when he was 6, to earn a college degree. He started working on that goal while still a Brownwood High School student, earning college credit through TSTC’s dual enrollment program in welding.

After graduating high school in May 2018, Acosta became a full-time TSTC student working toward a structural welding certificate.

“I first tried welding in middle school and was fascinated by it, but I was pretty horrible,” Acosta said. “But after the classes in high school, I felt a lot more confident, and I’m learning faster now in college.”

The partnership between TSTC and Brownwood High School allows high school students to experience college courses before committing as a full-time traditional student.

“Dual enrollment students become much more experienced in college coursework than other students entering college having never attended a college class, not knowing what to expect,” Rene Ralston, TSTC director of dual enrollment, said. “Brownwood High School is in TSTC’s backyard, so it makes sense to partner with the school.”

TSTC welding instructor Stephen Hope believes that dual enrollment allows students the chance to figure out what they want to do in life and learn what opportunities are available.

“Alan is a determined young man, and he works so hard because he knows that there are so many job opportunities waiting for him,” Hope said. “He will go far because of his determination, and I’m proud of him.”

Acosta encourages anyone interested in getting a well-paying job to pursue their education. “If you have the ambition, you can do it. It may be hard, but you will learn it,” Acosta said. “And the people at TSTC are so helpful and willing to be there for you.”

Acosta’s younger brother, Domingo, is following in his footsteps and is currently enrolled in the welding dual enrollment program at Brownwood High.

Alan Acosta plans to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology at TSTC in Abilene and hopes to graduate in April 2020.

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

TSTC in Brownwood student Alan Acosta is working on a structural welding certificate after completing the welding dual credit program with TSTC and Brownwood High School.