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What started as a job as an English tutor turned into a career that makes a difference in the lives of students for Texas State Technical College Success Coach Mara Hartsell. 

“I started working as an English tutor in the TSTC Marshall library in 2011,” she reminisces.  “I taught remedial English courses as an adjunct and went on to a full-time position as a success coach in Marshall.  Not too long after, I was transferred to the Fort Bend campus.”

While a job as a success coach entails many different responsibilities, the Shreveport, Louisiana native clarifies that one thing is always for certain; she will make sure that a student’s future is as bright as possible.

“I practice holistic advising techniques and work with students at all stages of their academic careers,” she said.  “Essentially, I help them strategize and plan in a way that keeps their educational goals at the forefront, and help them graduate with the award they need.”

Hartsell’s humble beginnings have helped her leave an even greater impact on the students she advises.

“I was a first-generation student who struggled through college while working full-time.  Today, I still recall select individuals who encouraged me and told me to keep going.  Without their support, I’m not sure if I would have reached the finish line myself,” she stated.  “I try to fill this role as best I can with students experiencing hardship, and it’s a great feeling when they take the time to let me know I’ve succeeded in pushing them forward.  The best moments are those when a student from a past semester visits you and thanks you for the impact that you had on him or her.”

A college education may seem like a difficult journey for students who struggle financially, but Hartsell emphasizes that money should not be what deters someone from enrolling.

“A lot of people today are concerned about the financial debt they might incur if they enroll in college, and they’re also worried about the job prospects they’ll realistically have after they make that sacrifice,” she said.  “TSTC students shouldn’t be preoccupied with either of these things given our extremely competitive tuition rate and high job placement statistics.”

As Hartsell points out, affordability is what sets TSTC apart from other institutions of higher learning.

“I always brag that this school puts the interest of students first, because once they graduate, they’ll still be able to maintain their financial independence.  They’ll also have a team well-rooted in the industry advocating for them.  You won’t find TSTC alumni complaining that they’re shackled by debt or unable to find a job.”

Hartsell not only enjoys her role at TSTC, but she is also grateful for the people she has met along the way.

“Collaboration, determination and friendship have defined my time here,” she said.  “TSTC has given me many opportunities to practice new skill sets, and it has introduced me to a number of great people who are not only my colleagues, but also my friends.”

Students interested in an advisement session with Mara Hartsell may reach her at

Registration for the Fall semester is currently underway.  Deadline for registration is August 22 and classes begin on August 29.  Apply online or register at

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