TSTC and GWAMA Partnership Help Promote Career and Technical Education

(WACO) – Hipolito Galan is already putting a spark in his future career.

Galan, 18, is a senior who spends mornings at Waco High School and afternoons at the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy, or GWAMA. His days are a combination of textbooks and hands-on learning with welding equipment.

“It’s something different every day,” said Galan, who plans to enroll this fall in the Welding Technology program at Texas State Technical College.

Students in GWAMA’s welding program can earn dual enrollment credits good for use at TSTC.

Galan said he has come to enjoy fabrication work while attending the academy.

“I like to build things that can be used,” he said.

Besides welding, GWAMA also offers courses in robotics and electronics, along with construction.

“It gives them an advantage to the beginning of a career,” said Brandon McMahan, an instructor in TSTC’s Robotics Technology program. “They have the hunger to learn.”

The high school students use professional-level equipment in their classes, such as 3D printers to create parts for small rockets.

“They are using the same type of robots we have here and in industry,” McMahan said. “We want to maintain a strong relationship with that school. Their students are doing what we want to teach them.”

The academy has about 200 juniors and seniors from more than 10 area high schools, the farthest being in Mexia.

“I get to see people who have the same interests that I do,” Galan said.

GWAMA’s classes enable small, rural school districts who cannot afford to have an array of technical education classes to be able to give students high-quality experiences that can spark curiosity.

“This whole concept was designed for surrounding districts to share the costs of having a program of this magnitude,” said Donna McKethan, director of career and technical education for the Waco Independent School District.

McKethan said the academy’s precision metal manufacturing program will be tweaked this fall to include an emphasis on computer-aided design. And, the architecture program currently at Waco High School will be moved this fall to GWAMA for all interested students to participate in.

GWAMA’s plans do not stop beyond the fall.

McKethan said a new academy focusing on cyber security and networking will have a dual enrollment component with TSTC and another two-year college starting in 2020. McKethan said the number of students is expected to be capped at 40 juniors and seniors a year.

“A lot of what you see is years of working with TSTC and some hard lessons on what can work with the students,” McKethan said.

For more information on the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy, go to wacoisd.org/gwama.

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


TSTC Student Builds Leadership Skills as Campus Ambassador

(RED OAK) – Orlando Chavez, 19, of Red Oak did not look far to make his college decision.

Chavez is a Precision Machining Technology major at Texas State Technical College, which is next door to Red Oak High School, where he graduated in 2018.

“I have enjoyed getting to learn how to use the milling machines and lathe,” Chavez said. “It was a major learning curve, but it was the best thing I learned so far.”

Theo Comer, an instructor in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program, said Chavez has been a joy to teach.

“He shows an energy to learn and the effort to do it correctly,” Comer said.

Chavez also serves as a TSTC student ambassador. Applicants for that position are interviewed by campus student recruitment staff and chosen for their academic work, along with their communication and leadership skills. He works at campus events, such as the recent Spring Counselors Update, gives tours to campus visitors and assists potential students with their TSTC applications.

“He’s not only gaining the technical skills needed to be a successful machinist, but he is also gaining valuable soft skills to enhance his employability,” said Marcus Balch, TSTC provost.

After graduation in December, Chavez wants to work in an area maintenance shop and possibly pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

He said the first time he walked into TSTC in North Texas’ Industrial Technology Center was during a spring open house event.

“I would have to say TSTC was very convenient for me,” Chavez said. “I didn’t want to go to a university because the environment was very different. I didn’t want to go as big. It’s close to home, and I didn’t really have to spend as much as at other universities.”

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



TSTC instructors present at national conference in Washington

Two Education and Training program instructors from Texas State Technical College in Harlingen recently garnered some national attention in Washington, D.C., when they made a presentation at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conference.

“This was our chance to share all of the things that make our program unique and highlight the work we’re doing at TSTC,” said Myriam Aguila, TSTC Education and Training department chair. “There are wonderful things happening at our college, and we wanted to recognize that.”

NAEYC is one of the largest early childhood education nonprofit associations in the U.S. It represents nearly 60,000 teachers, para-educators, center directors, trainers, college educators, policymakers and advocates from all over the world.

At the annual NAEYC conference, educators gather to share lessons, classroom strategies and ideas.

Aguila, who has presented internationally and serves as a board member for the NAEYC chapter in Texas and as president for the Rio Grande Valley chapter, and instructor Mary Elizabeth Hollmann not only were chosen from among hundreds who submitted presentation proposals, but also were the only ones from the RGV.

“It’s prestigious to get selected,” said Hollmann. “We presented to people from all over the world. It was a great experience.”

Their presentation, which was part of the conference’s Spanish track, was titled “All Children Can Learn Through Dramatic Play.” It focused on how classroom play centers that imitate places like kitchens, post offices and doctors’ offices encourage speaking, vocabulary, reading, spelling and writing.

“Just as it’s important to include hands-on learning for our college students, it’s of the same importance for our little ones, if not more,” said Hollmann. “This type of play and learning allows the children to exercise different parts of the brain, and also encourages social and problem-solving skills.”

Aguila and Hollmann also included some of their students’ work, such as prop boxes, to showcase in their presentation. The prop boxes included themed learning tools used as educational materials at TSTC’s NINOS Head Start program.

“The prop boxes were a hit with the people in our presentation,” said Aguila. “We had professionals enjoying the learning tools and playing with the props inside. Many said this was something they wanted to utilize with their students.”

TSTC in Harlingen’s Education and Training program is the only one of its kind among the college’s 10 campuses. It focuses on early childhood education through sixth grade, and offers certificates and associate degree tracks.

It is one of the largest programs at TSTC, with more than 400 TSTC students and close to 200 high school dual-enrollment students from school districts in Harlingen, Los Fresnos and San Benito.

The program also has a long-standing partnership with Texas A&M University-Kingsville, allowing credits to transfer so students can pursue a bachelor’s degree in education.

“Many of our students find positions at the schools where they complete their practicums,” said Aguila. “And this is great for our students and our program; this is how they craft their profession. But, as educators, we want them to reach for more. So we provide them with opportunities.”

Education and Training also offers evening and weekend classes so every student has the chance to be successful. As for Aguila and Hollmann, they are already preparing their presentation proposal for this year’s NAEYC conference in Tennessee.  

Student Success Profile – Robert Piña

Robert Piña is a Business Management Technology student at Texas State Technical College and expects to earn his associate degree in Summer 2019.

The 43-year-old San Benito native, boasts a 3.5 grade-point average and also already holds two associate degrees from TSTC’s Building Construction Technology and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) programs.

The husband and father of four is also a student worker in TSTC’s Talent Management and Career Services Office and volunteers when has spare time as a Tech Day campus tour leader.

What are your plans after you graduate?

After I graduate I hope to find a position with a school district office or at TSTC.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to establish a career here at TSTC in an office setting. Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful, that I want to be that for someone else and help others achieve their dreams.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

As a first-generation college graduate, my greatest accomplishment has been earning my degrees and showing my children that it is never too late to fulfill your dream of an education.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The lesson I have learned is that perseverance does pay off. I worked in the hospitality industry for more than a decade, when I was laid off I decided to come back to school. It was scary and a challenge, but hard work and being opened to change has brought me a long way.

Who at TSTC has influenced your success the most?

The person who has influenced my success is TSTC Talent Management and Career Services Director Viviana Espinosa. She has been a great supervisor, always motivating. I see how successful she is and how hard she is working toward a graduate degree and it inspires me. She has inspired me to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to stay focused and to not get discouraged. If you stay on point and stay positive, everything is possible. All hard works pays off in the end.

TSTC instructor receives congressional honor

When Sessia Wyche III is teaching and leading ministries he is changing lives, and for these contributions and more to the Rio Grande Valley, the Texas State Technical College Mathematics instructor was recently presented with a House of Representatives Congressional Record recognition by U.S. Congressman Filemon Vela.

 “When I received the call about receiving this honor I felt like it was the milestone of my life,” said the 73-year-old Bay City native. “Everything I’ve done is a calling from the Lord. My calling is to teach. I do what I do because I love it, not because I expect anything in return.”

A Congressional Record is the official record of proceedings and debates of the United States Congress and is published daily when congress is in session. Wyche was recognized during a Black History Month Celebration.

Wyche was one of 12 other community leaders honored.

The Congressional Record of proceedings and debates of the 116th Congress, recognized Wyche for his contributions to the state’s  34th Congressional District; it reads:  “He is a dedicated educator in the Rio Grande Valley…He is a role model for our children and we are thankful for his compassion to serve those in need.”

“I am thankful I had the privilege of highlighting and honoring Sessia as an upstanding member of the community,” said Vela. “His commitment to community through education, service to others and unyielding faith serves as a shining example of the people that make up our great community.”  

Wyche began his teaching career at TSTC in 1982, back when it was Texas State Technical Institute, after a four-year stint with Southwestern Bell as a programmer.

And with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics, physics and computer science from Texas A&I University, now Texas A&M – Kingsville, it was only fitting he teach younger generations the art of math.

He was with TSTI for five years before transitioning to a local university where he spent 22 years teaching before retiring.

Upon retiring, Wyche decided he was not done and returned to TSTC. He has now been with the college since 2009.

“Every morning I wake up and pray that the Holy Spirit fills me as I teach and that my students understand what I am teaching them,” said Wyche. “It’s a great feeling when I see my students’ eyes light up when they get it. That’s what makes this job fulfilling. The key is to stay positive.”

In addition to being a long-time educator, Wyche also uses his spare time to play dominoes every night, but most importantly, minister to those in need.

Since 2004, Wyche has led a prison ministry in Raymondville twice a week, at the juvenile detention center in San Benito every Thursday and has served as a volunteer chaplain at Valley Baptist Medical Center and Harlingen Medical Center.

“In the bible there is a verse, ‘Go therefore…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you,’ and reading this I knew serving others was my purpose,” said Wyche. “Serving others has been such a blessing. I live to serve.”

After a prostate cancer diagnosis in 2012, he was forced to slow down, but said it was through Psalm 1:18 – “I shall not die, but live, and declare the words of the Lord,” that he found healing and continued his work. Wyche continues to remain cancer free.

“My faith keeps me going, but so does my family,” he said. “I would not be able to do anything without the support of my family. My wife, children and grandchildren keep me going. A lot of what I have accomplished is because of them.”

Through the years Wyche has received numerous awards and promotions for his success as an instructor and professor, but said he credits a life-changing moment when he was 12, for who he has become.

“If you’re blessed, you bless others. And as a young boy, who attended a segregated school, I didn’t even have two cents for a chocolate milk,” he said. “But while cutting wood to build a fire for my family, a man stopped, observed my work and gave me 25 cents. I was the happiest boy because I could now afford chocolate milk. And since that day I knew I would help others the way this man helped me.”

HORD

New TSTC diesel instructor ready to provide students with gateway to opportunity

When he was in high school, Brandon Foster discovered he was interested in pursuing a career in diesel mechanics. Now, a decade later, he is a Diesel Equipment Technology instructor at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County.

Foster appreciates TSTC’s mission of “placing more Texans in high-paying jobs” and being part of a gateway to better opportunity for students.

“My vision for my students is that they come to class excited, engaged and ready to ask questions,” he said. “And what I love about TSTC is that everyone is here for the student, and the student is encouraged to learn and be successful thereafter.”

The Goldthwaite native began his career as a part-time mechanic’s helper at a company his stepfather worked with at the time. He was still in high school when he received that opportunity, and it was a pivotal moment for him.

“This is the moment I knew I wanted to pursue a career in diesel mechanics,” said the 27-year-old. “Everything was bigger, better and louder. And the technical side is what keeps me going. There are so many advances always happening.”

After a stint working in the oil fields, which he said were not a good fit for him, he earned his associate degree in diesel mechanics in 2016 from a Central Texas college.

Driven by a constant motivation and interest in learning more, Foster now holds an Automotive Service Excellence Medium-Heavy Truck master certification, as well as a universal certification to work on automotive and residential air conditioning.

“No matter what you do, there is always room for improvement,” said Foster. “You have to continue learning if you want to be successful in your field.”

Foster has extensive experience working for diesel service centers, but the owner of a particular shop in Lampasas where he worked pushed him to continue his education and showed him what it means to keep learning.

“I owe this guy a lot. He shaped my life,” he said. “He introduced me to all of the possibilities and opportunities I could work for in this field. I’ll never forget how kind he was and what he taught me.”

Currently Foster is working toward a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology.

He said his career has taken him full circle, from industry to the classroom, and he knows that his purpose is to help others be successful.

Foster said his goal as an instructor is to share his knowledge and experience, and to create critical thinkers, problem-solvers and lifelong learners.

“I love watching students learn and have that “aha” moment when everything comes together for them,” said Foster. “This is what makes teaching so fulfilling and meaningful to me.”

Diesel Equipment Technology is also offered at TSTC’s Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater and Waco campuses.

For more information, visit tstc.edu.  

Student Success Profile – Ayman Agharbi

Ayman Agharbi graduated from Texas State Technical College with an associate degree in Graphics Gaming and Simulation Programming and is now completing prerequisite classes for a bachelor’s degree in the field of computers.

The Harlingen native is also a math tutor at the TSTC Learning Resource Center, helping students understand everything from basic math to calculus.

What are your plans after graduation?

After completing my classes here at TSTC, I plan on transferring to Texas A&M University in College Station to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to work with a hardware development company like Intel, the world’s largest manufacturer of computer processors, and develop the software they need for their technology.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

There are two things I consider a great accomplishment. The first is earning my associate degree; it’s a step in the right direction for my future and my career. Second are the leadership skills I have gained at TSTC by working with Instructional Tutoring. The experience and lessons I have learned are invaluable, have helped me grow as a person and are lessons I will carry with me throughout my life.  

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is the importance of an education. In my first year of college, I was not focused or even into getting an education. It wasn’t until I started doing research on successful people, with and without an education, that I realized that it was going to be difficult to get through life without a formal education.  

Who at TSTC has had the most influence on your success?

There are so many people at TSTC that have influenced me and my success: first and foremost my father, Mohamed Agharbi, who is an associate professor of mathematics, and of course my supervisors and mentors, Norma Salazar and Linda Barron. They have all guided me, pushed me and given me opportunities.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to learn time management, take advantage of the tutoring services TSTC offers and, most importantly — something I had to learn the hard way — don’t be afraid to ask questions. My first year of college was challenging just because I was afraid to ask about things I didn’t understand or know, but honestly that’s the only way things make sense sometimes.

TSTC empowers students to be industry-ready

Texas State Technical College recently hosted its fifth annual Empowerment Conference focused on getting students industry-ready.

Mary Morales, a TSTC Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics student, was one of nearly 50 students who attended the event.

The 30-year-old said that as a nontraditional student there are challenges she will face, and this event helped her learn the steps to break the barriers.

“As someone who has worked in retail for many years, soft skills are something I subconsciously practice,” said the Brownsville native. “So this has been a great reminder and excellent educational opportunity.”

Morales expects to earn her associate degree in Spring 2020.

TSTC Support Services coordinator Patty Flores said the event, which was open to all TSTC students, was a success if it helped at least one student like Morales.

The conference was aligned with TSTC’s statewide Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) on student success: Improve students’ job readiness for the attainment of gainful employment.  

“Our job is to not only teach our students technical skills for the workforce, but also soft skills,” said Flores. “We need to create well-rounded students who can face any challenge in the industry. A lot of times it’s these soft skills that will make them or break them.”

Soft skills are personal characteristics that allow a person to interact effectively with other people such as communication skills, time-management ability, problem-solving skills, adaptability and teamwork.

Conference sessions and interactive activities were led by TSTC faculty and staff.

TSTC assistant department chair and psychology instructor Frank Coronado covered collaboration, General Academics instructor Monica Villarreal covered communication and interpersonal skills, TSTC counselor Alex Galan shed light on problem-solving, and Student Life coordinator Belinda Palomino reviewed interview skills and resume writing.

“A degree alone doesn’t suffice,” said Coronado. “Success in industry is dependent on the graduate’s soft skills, so I hope these students take my examples and those of the other presenters and apply them. We need to fill many jobs, and our students need these skills to do well.”

For TSTC Education and Training student Angel Flores, who is enrolled in a female-dominated field, every presenter had something meaningful and useful that he can use in his everyday life and in the classroom.

“I’m so glad TSTC hosts events like this for us. This conference in particular has allowed me to realize that I need to become a better listener,” he said. “Now I can work on this to become a better teacher and teammate to my colleagues. This event really exceeded my expectations.”

Angel expects to earn his associate degree in Fall 2019.

Patty Flores said conferences like this are about bringing awareness to important topics and issues. Past Empowerment Conferences have covered topics such as human trafficking, cultural awareness and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).   

“To educate is our main purpose,” said Flores. “It’s crucial that we empower our students and community with the services and resources available to them.” For more information on the services and conferences offered by TSTC Support Services, call 956-364-4520.

TSTC students intern with local legislators

The 86th Texas legislative session has begun and two Texas State Technical College students serving as interns for local state representatives will get a first-hand look into the legislative process.

 “These students are about to embark on an experience that will change their lives,” said TSTC Executive Vice President of Governmental Affairs Javier Deleon. “This is a great stepping stone toward any career path they choose.”

TSTC student leaders Iris Juarez and Jennie Remington will intern for State Representatives Armando Martinez and Oscar Longoria, respectively.

This is the second year that TSTC partners with local representatives to provide this type of opportunity for its students.

Both women will serve as interns with the state representatives for five months and have the chance to work in a professional office setting, communicate with constituents and attend networking events.  

“In the past, we have had great responses from the legislators and their staff,” said Deleon. “Our interns are a value to their offices, help wherever help is needed and represent TSTC, their respective office and the state representative in the best light.”

This is a great way to showcase our college and what our students are made of,” added Deleon.

Juarez, who recently earned her associate degree in Business Management Technology and is completing her Academic Core, said this opportunity came at just the right time.

The San Benito native took the lead with TSTC’s voter registration initiative this last midterm election, is a student orientation leader with TSTC’s New Student Orientation Office and serves on TSTC’s Leadership Academy and Service Squad.

“I was actually looking for an additional position where I could grow my skills,” said Juarez. “So when this opportunity came up, I couldn’t pass on it. I’m confident and ready.”

The 21-year-old also said she hopes to be a great asset to Martinez’s team. She is looking forward to taking what she has learned at TSTC in her program and through her leadership roles and applying it to her position.

“I’ve gained the confidence I need here at TSTC to excel in this internship,” said Juarez. “And I plan on learning a lot and embracing this new experience.”

Remington is also a student leader on and off campus, serving as lead for TSTC’s Leadership Academy, as a volunteer for TSTC Student Life and Engagement, as a youth leader with her church and as a volunteer with the Harlingen Community Theater.

“Never did I imagine I would be given this type of opportunity,” said the 28-year-old. “And I’m excited about working with Longoria and his team and the growth a position like this can bring.”

The Harlingen native is pursuing an associate degree in Education and Training at TSTC and hopes to pursue a career in early education.

She said this internship will give her a glimpse into policies that affect the community and education, so she is looking forward to shadowing professionals and networking with those who will help her grow as a person and future educator.

“I hope to represent TSTC well, help in the best way I can and learn a lot,” said Remington. “And I know this will help me be better informed and build new relationships. And knowing how much my mentors believe in me, helps me believe that I will be successful during this internship.”

Those mentors are TSTC Student Life Director Adele Clinton and Student Life Coordinator Belinda Palomino.

“When it comes to opportunities like this we are always looking for committed student leaders who are articulate, organized and comfortable with taking initiative and making decisions,” said Palomino. “And these two women were a perfect fit. They will bring great attitudes, organizational and leadership skills and will show that TSTC students can not only thrive in industry, but also in a professional environment with public servants.”

Palomino added that co-curricular experiences like these internships will ensure that TSTC not only trains students in their vocation, but also gives students the opportunity to network and learn more about themselves and the community.

Deleon said he has no doubt that Juarez and Remington will succeed and he hopes to give other students the chance at serving as interns or student ambassadors with other local lawmakers in the future.  

TSTC Student Uses Military Discipline in Studies

(WACO) – Discipline acquired from military service plays an important role in Texas State Technical College student Edward Hernandez’s day.

“I know I need to wake up at 5 a.m. so I’m not late,” said Hernandez, 50, of Killeen. “I work everything around school.”

Hernandez grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was a member of the U.S. Army for 20 years.

In between Auto Collision and Management Technology classes, Hernandez fits in lunch and does homework at the campus Veteran Services Center.

“This is therapy for me, being at school,” he said. “I want to go to work.”

Hernandez started this semester working on a certificate in Auto Collision Repair.

“Painting a car is like painting a picture,” he said. “It’s art.”

Tracy Marshall, senior instructor in the Auto Collision and Management Technology program, said Hernandez brings insight to class discussions.

“He is not afraid to comment,” Marshall said. “You can tell he has a general interest in learning. He is very quick to learn.”

Hernandez is among the fifth generation of family members who joined the Army. His great-grandfather fought in World War II, his grandfather took part in the Korean War, his father was part of the Vietnam War, and Hernandez had two deployments to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Hernandez’s son is currently in the Army.

“Joining the Army is a good job, plus you can retire early,” Hernandez said.

He learned about TSTC by searching online for auto collision and repair programs.

“I always wanted to learn to paint cars,” he said. “When I decided to do it, I wanted to learn to paint and repair. I have always loved cars.”

Hernandez graduated in December from TSTC with a certificate in Auto Collision Refinishing.

His goal after finishing college is to work at a restoration shop.

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