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Tamara Lain is an enrollment coach at Texas State Technical College who works to be the person who helps students remove barriers when applying for college.

(ROSENBERG, Texas) - Tamara Lair is a first-generation college student who faced many uncertainties and roadblocks throughout her educational journey. Now, as an enrollment coach at Texas State Technical College, she is working to remove some of those barriers for her students.

“I had no know-how on college or the processes,” said the Houston native. “I was expected to go to college, which was the plan, so I had to navigate the journey alone.”

The 41-year-old said she remembers not knowing what she wanted to be when she grew up. All she knew was that she wanted a career in which she could help people.

“My strength is helping others and being there when someone is in need, which is what my degree has allowed me to do,” she said. “It’s just taken some reflection and soul-searching.”

Lair holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Houston.

She also worked in the work-study program at the university and said that is where her interest in working in higher education came to be.  

With her degree, she has been able to work for Meals on Wheels, as an academic advisor for the University of Houston–Victoria, and for an area high school.

“I found I loved helping students get to college or through college,” she said. “To see students you’ve advised and helped persevere is the best feeling.”

And because she worked at a high school before TSTC and was ready to re-enter the higher education arena, she immediately applied when TSTC’s enrollment coach position became available.

“TSTC was really meant to be,” said Lair. “I’ve always been a huge advocate of two-year technical degrees, so I knew this was where I was supposed to be.”

Lair said her goals at TSTC are simple: Connect with students to earn their trust, find the program that best fits their strengths, share her educational journey so that students can see that success is possible, and give students the resources they need to become college graduates with a great-paying career.

“I will do whatever I can in my power to ensure that every student has what he/she needs to be successful,” said Lair. “And it’s so rewarding when I have students return to campus or call me just to say thank you. All I’ve ever wanted is to make a difference in someone’s life.”

To better serve her students, Lair said she is working toward becoming a certified life coach and earning a master’s degree in counseling.

“I feel that holding these two things will allow me to serve students on a broader level,” said Lair. “Students sometimes not only need academic advising, but they also need someone to talk to regarding difficult life situations. And I want to be the person they can come to.”

Lair, who has been with TSTC for nearly a year, said the college is a great place to work because its faculty and staff statewide have become a second family to her and they work toward the same goal: student success.

For more information on TSTC and its programs, visit

To see job opportunities at TSTC, visit

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Mauro Blanco graduated last year with an associate degree in Industrial Systems and i now working as a mid-level technician for Niagara Bottling in the Houston area.

(ROSENBERG, Texas) - From high school dropout to college graduate, Mauro Blanco is proof that if you want something and work hard, dreams can become a reality.

Blanco, 45, graduated in December 2019 from Texas State Technical College’s Fort Bend County campus with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems with honors.

“There’s a breath of fresh air now that I’m done,” he said. “The beginning was a challenge, but I feel a lot better now.”

When the Eagle Lake native started his educational career at TSTC, he was working full-time and was a full-time student.

He had class from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and would work a night shift, spending most of his nights in his truck to stay close to campus for the next morning.

“It got hard balancing school and work, to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore,” said Blanco. “I was close to dropping out, but my instructor Ray Smith saved the day.”

He added that Smith played a key role in him graduating.

“He allowed me to come in on Fridays and Saturdays to catch up so I could keep up my grades,” he said. “This gave me the chance to focus on school. Had he not helped me, I would not have graduated.”

Blanco first returned to school for a degree that would help him advance into leadership roles within his long-time career in concrete manufacturing, but his interests and goals since beginning have changed.

“I ran into a lot of road blocks without a degree,” he said. “But now I find myself going in a different direction because I have more opportunities.”

Blanco is now working as a mid-level technician for Niagara Bottling in the Houston area. He received the job offer shortly after graduating from TSTC, along with several more.

“The plan was to be hired as an entry-level technician, but with my experience and degree, the company brought me in as a mid-level employee,” he said. “My degree is already working as it was intended. And I’ve never been more excited to start a new career. I feel like a kid on Christmas.”

Not only did TSTC and the degree he earned change his life, but it also changed that of his family.

“My family went along for the ride with me,” he said. “It really affected my grandchildren because before school we’d spend a lot of time together. But they recently told me how proud they are of me, and that felt good. My family was my inspiration and I could not have done it without their support.”

By beginning a new career, Blanco has begun a new chapter in life and said he did not want it to stop there.

Blanco said he hopes to continue his education online now that he knows he can balance school, work and life.

“I still dream of being a leader and help create new things,” he said. “And my degree from TSTC has led me to a successful career and has opened my eyes to what is out there and what I can do. It’s opened doors of opportunities I never thought possible.”

Industrial Systems offers two certificate pathways – Mechanic and Electrical, and two associate degree pathways – Electrical specialization and Mechanical specialization.

The program is also offered at TSTC’s Abilene, East Williamson County, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses.

For more information, visit

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(ROSENBERG, Texas) - On Friday, Jackie Cook joined nearly 100 other Texas State Technical College graduates who received a certificate or an associate degree during the college’s commencement ceremony at the Stafford Centre.

The 31-year-old walked across the stage to receive his associate degree in Cybersecurity Technology as his family and friends witnessed the graduate’s proud moment.

“This is a huge achievement for me,” he said. “It’s a brand-new chapter. I’ve been working toward this for a while now.”

After his first stint in college didn’t go as planned, Cook served in the Army for nine years, with a deployment in Afghanistan.

“College wasn’t going so well, so I enlisted,” he said. “I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps.”

Cook was no stranger to military life. His father served in the military, and the family moved to destinations around the world, including Japan, where Cook was born.

“It was challenging as a child, moving from place to place,” said Cook. “But as I got older, I found the adventure in it, and meeting new people was always the silver lining.”

Although meeting new people and experiencing new places was exciting for Cook, he realized he wanted more stability for his family. In 2018 he decided to leave the military.

That was when TSTC came into the picture.

“I needed to return to school and get an education,” he said. “I needed a new career, and education was the key.”

With an interest in computers and a father who specialized in information technology and encouraged him to pursue a career in the field, Cook found Cybersecurity at TSTC and thought of it as a perfect match.

“I have found that I really enjoy network security processes,” said Cook. “I want to be the person that blocks threats, and TSTC has prepared me for that career.”

He added that although hands-on training and getting to practice what he learns has given him confidence to enter the real world, it has been his instructors’ eagerness to help that has made all the difference.

“Our instructors have been there to help and go above and beyond,” he said. “They ensure that we understand the material and that we are learning skills that will make us marketable to employers.”

And with his student worker position at the Cybersecurity labs, Cook has had the opportunity to learn even more by using his skills to help others in his class.

“Overall, my entire experience at TSTC has prepared me for the future,” Cook said. “And I’m definitely ready for what’s next.”

With several job offers in hand, the husband and father of one said TSTC has changed his life and his family’s life.

“It’s been an interesting journey to say the least. Being in school with a family had its challenges, but we got through it,” he said. “Everything I am doing is for them, and now I’m going to be able to support them and give them a better life.”

Statewide this fall, more than 1,000 TSTC students will receive certificates or associate degrees and join an alumni network that is 100,000 strong.

Cybersecurity Technology is also offered at TSTC’s East Williamson County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses.

For more information, visit

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(ROSENBERG, Texas) - On Friday, Texas State Technical College student David Krenek will walk across the stage at the Stafford Centre and receive his associate degree in Industrial Systems.

“It feels great knowing that I’m done and about to graduate,” said the 20-year-old. “It’s time to move forward and get my life started. That’s exciting.”

At a young age, the Rosenberg native discovered his passion for working with his hands and tinkering with machinery.

“It’s this type of work that allows me to think outside of the box,” he said. “Working with machinery and its components to create, repair or troubleshoot is something I love to do, and I’m glad that at TSTC I can create a career out of my passion.”

College was always in the cards for Krenek, but he wasn’t always sure about attending a four-year university.

“I saw this new school (TSTC) along the highway and decided to check it out,” said Krenek. “And after some research and a tour of the campus and the Industrial Systems program, I was sold. It was the modern, industry-standard equipment I would be trained on and the program’s faculty that sealed the deal.”

Krenek said the program has brought him a long way since the summer days when he worked with his uncle on the farm, repairing farm equipment and small engines.

“I knew a bit about machines, but TSTC has really given me an in-depth understanding of them and what it takes to repair and maintain them,” he said. “I can’t wait to put my training into good use.”

Krenek has already received several job offers from companies around the Houston area.

“I’m ready to start working, and I can’t believe how fast TSTC got me there,” said Krenek. “There is still so much to learn, but TSTC has given me the foundation I need to begin a successful career.”

He added that he enjoyed his experience at TSTC, from training to faculty assistance.

“I received a lot of one-on-one with my instructors, which helped in understanding concepts and processes,” he said. “And even better was the hands-on training and real-world practice I got to do in the classroom.”

Krenek will graduate as a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

“I’ve come a long way, and I’ve entered a new chapter in life,” he said. “I hope to gain experience, learn a lot, advance in my career, start a family someday and enjoy life the best way I can. This is only the beginning.”

Krenek will celebrate with family and friends on Friday, joining nearly 100 other students at the Fort Bend County campus who will graduate with a certificate or associate degree as part of TSTC’s Class of Fall 2019.

This month, statewide, more than 1,000 TSTC students will join an alumni network that is 100,000 strong.

Industrial Systems is also offered at TSTC’s Abilene, East Williamson County, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses.

For more information, visit

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TSTC Electrical Power and Controls students practice their skills in one of the program's fully-equipped labs, which includes industry-standard equipment and machines such as transformers and electrical motors.

(ROSENBERG, Texas) - The demand for electrical power and controls technicians is high and continuously increasing, which is why Texas State Technical College and its Electrical Power and Controls program are working diligently to produce highly skilled graduates.

“The industry is growing by leaps and bounds around the industrial centers in the Gulf Coast region,” said TSTC Electrical Power and Controls instructor Jonathan Bonkoske. “And with the mix of retirees and employee promotions, the demand will continue to increase.”

To meet that demand and fill a need, students who enroll in TSTC’s Electrical Power and Controls program can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in approximately 18 months.

In the program, students can gain skills such as electrical safety, electrical design and engineering practices, electrical distribution equipment and component testing and evaluation, speed motor control circuit design, programming and troubleshooting, and electrical calculations.

“This highly diverse and well-rounded set of skills and experience will produce a potential employee that can fill different roles within a company,” said Bonkoske.

To learn and practice these skills before entering the workforce, students have access to labs that include industry-standard electrical distribution, transmission, equipment testing, automation, instrumentation motion-control tools, transformers and electrical motors.

“Being familiar and knowledgeable in these different areas gives the students options to select from many career opportunities and does not lock them into a specialty, which increases their hireability,” said Bonkoske. “Our graduates in this area are highly sought-after because of their hands-on skills and directly related work experience gained in the classroom and labs.”

Electrical Power and Controls statewide has a 94% job-placement rate with many of its graduates finding work as an electrical field service technician, electrical maintenance technician, electrical designer, instrumentation technician, automation technician or motion control technician.

Program graduates have found employment with such companies as Burns & McDonnell, Dashiell, Eaton Corporation, Wood Group and Schlumberger.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a person in this field can make, on average, nearly $64,000 per year.

Electrical Power and Controls is also offered at TSTC’s Abilene, East Williamson County, North Texas and Waco campuses. It is part of the college’s Money-Back Guarantee program, which refunds the tuition of participating graduates if they do not find a job in their career field within six months of graduation..

Registration for Spring 2020 is underway.

For more information, visit

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TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology students work on truck repair and maintenance during class.

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – The construction and transportation industry in the Houston area and statewide is rapidly growing, meaning that a skilled workforce is very much in demand.

Texas State Technical College is helping to fill that need with its technical programs like Diesel Equipment Technology.

TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology instructor Brandon Foster said that program faculty receive numerous calls from employers who have attended Employer Spotlights on campus and want to recruit TSTC graduates.

“Our graduates are in high demand. Skilled diesel technicians are in high demand,” he said. “And we’re working diligently to ensure that our graduates are job-ready.”

To accomplish that, the program focuses on hands-on training to teach the appropriate skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the industry.

Students have access to a large shop that is equipped with industry-standard technology, such as training aids for hydraulic, brake and electrical systems, to learn skills in diagnosing, troubleshooting, repair and maintenance.

The shop is also complete with heavy-duty diesel trucks, bulldozers and front-end loaders.

“All of our equipment allows for a real-world experience,” said Foster. “And the skills they learn can be applied immediately to tasks they will find in the workforce.”

In addition to technical skills, soft skills such as resume building, interviewing, writing, leadership and communication are also a focus for the program.

“Soft skills are just as important as technical skills,” said Foster. “They have to be effective writers and communicators; all jobs require you to be.”

After completing one of three pathways -- certificate one, certificate two or an associate degree -- a student can work as a diesel mechanic technician, maintenance technician, construction equipment technician, engine specialist or heavy-duty equipment mechanic.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of diesel service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow five percent through 2028, faster than all other occupations, with a median pay of $22 per hour.

Companies who have hired TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology graduates include Chevron, Freightliner, Halliburton, Holt Equipment, John Deere and Peterbilt.

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

For more information, visit

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Joyee Stevenson is TSTC Workforce Training and Continuing Education's newest project manager. She works closely with TSTC industry partners to establish employer training.

(ROSENBERG, Texas) - Joyee Stevenson has returned to her roots in Houston and, in the midst of a career change, she found her calling at Texas State Technical College.

With only a couple of months under her belt at TSTC, the Workforce Training and Continuing Education project manager is already finding that this change was the best decision she could have made.

“I’ve always been an advocate for education,” said Stevenson. “So when I was laid off and I needed to start anew, I decided to combine my past experiences to help others find their dream careers.”

For more than a decade, Stevenson worked as a graphic designer, moving around often to follow job opportunities after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and a minor in marketing from the University of South Carolina.

She worked contract and freelance jobs rebranding pharmaceutical companies, and she even had the opportunity to design and advertise for a ramen noodle manufacturer.

“I was infatuated with all aspects of my job,” she said. “The creativity and seeing my ideas and designs come to life kept me going.”

After hitting some bumps in the road as a designer, she returned to South Carolina and worked for a technical college doing graphic design and student recruitment.

“As a single mom, I did what I had to in order to support my daughter,” said Stevenson. “But I never knew that I would enjoy working in higher education so much, that it would spark a career change.”

With her brother in Texas and retired parents who were also ready to move, Stevenson decided to relocate to be closer to family and find better opportunities.

“My mom always told me I would thrive in higher education, but I was stubborn,” she said. “It turns out she was right.”

Stevenson said that soon after she arrived in Houston she noticed the new TSTC campus under construction in Rosenberg and immediately imagined herself working there.

“I’m so glad to be part of the TSTC family,” she said. “I immediately connected with college faculty and staff. It feels like home.”

Stevenson works closely with TSTC industry partners to provide training and opportunities for advancement for their employees.

“We connect with local companies because we feel training is important for everyone and everywhere,” said Stevenson. “What we do affects companies, individuals and families for generations to come.”

Stevenson said she sees a lot of herself in some of the students. Life as a single mom has not been easy. But with a great support system, she has gone far -- and she hopes she can offer support to others as well.

“I share my experiences with students; there are no secrets to success,” she said. “I want to share my experiences and knowledge with others so that they can find success too.”

She added that she sees herself growing with TSTC, climbing the ladder but never forgetting what she is advocating for: education.

For more information on the services offered by TSTC Workforce Training and Continuing Education, visit

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Tracey Clayton is one of TSTC's newest enrollment coaches and said her favorite part of her job is getting to help students begin their college education.

Tracey Clayton comes to Texas State Technical College from Tennessee, where she was first introduced to careers in higher education.

Now, with several years of experience under her belt as an educational advisor and as an enrollment coach for the college, she is helping students at TSTC find their potential and become college graduates.

“It’s so exciting to see students get ready to enter college,” she said. “My passion is to help students start their education so they can find opportunities that help them lead better lives.”

Higher education wasn’t always what Clayton had in mind as a profession.

For 15 years, the single mom practiced as a licensed massage therapist for spas, mobile clinics, chiropractic clinics and private clients.

But when the joints in her hands started giving her problems, she knew it was time for a career change.

“This profession fell into my lap by accident, but it helped me support my son,” she reminisced. “I was always giving family members and friends massages and they all told me the same thing, ‘This is your career,’  so when I couldn’t massage anymore, I decided to teach.”

She taught massage therapy for three years at a technical college in Tennessee, also serving as a new student and graduate advisor.

“This was my first go-around in the education sector and I loved it,” she said.

Then Clayton decided she was ready for a change.  So with friends and family in the area and in Dallas, she chose Houston, Texas as her new home.

“Before making the move official, I applied everywhere. I wanted to work in higher education,” she said. “And then TSTC called. The moment I walked on campus and met the people around me, I knew this was where I was meant to be.”

Ten months later and Clayton said everyone at TSTC has become a second family and her favorite part: seeing the students she assists with enrollment being successful and getting closer to graduating.

“I love what I do and where I do it,” said Clayton. “TSTC has been a great place to work and my job feels rewarding. I can see myself growing here and staying for the long run.”

Clayton’s said her goals are to continue helping students pick the careers that are right for them and keeping her positive attitude because it can make a world of difference for those she serves.

And to help in her career development, she is also pursuing an online associate degree with TSTC in Business Management Technology.

“Nothing I have done or achieved has been easy, especially as a single mom,” said Clayton. “I can empathize with many of our students and I hope my story will inspire others to not give up on their dreams. Because TSTC helps create careers for anyone willing to work hard.”

Registration for Spring 2020 begins November 11. For more information, visit

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Carranza Bankston recently joined the TSTC family as a TSTC cook and Cybersecurity student.

With a second chance at life, Carranza Bankston has joined the Texas State Technical College family as an employee and a Cybersecurity student.

It’s only been a few months since the 34-year-old, single mother had a stroke that left her bedridden for two months induced by Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks the nerves.

“I’ve always been the traveler, the daughter that moves away to find adventure, so when I had my stroke I was far from my family,” said Bankston. “I knew it was time to move home and that’s when TSTC came into play.”

While on bed rest, the Richmond native began her job search, and working in the food industry for much of her life, she knew the TSTC Café cook position was the right fit.

“I had already applied to TSTC for several other positions, but this one was the one that was meant to be,” she said. “And I was able to move back home.”

Bankston’s food industry experience ranges from restaurant management to catering business owner. She even began culinary school, but put it on hold at age 22 when she became pregnant with her daughter.  

Her catering business “Jacasians” is Jamaican food with an American twist, and has seen success in the wedding and large-event arena.

“I’ve been working since I was 15 so I’m no stranger to hard work,” said Bankston. “And even though cooking has always been my passion, I also worked in technical support for a couple of major companies, and that’s why I decided to return to school for cybersecurity.”

With support from her mother and daughter to return to school, Bankston enrolled in Cybersecurity’s online program and expects to earn her associate degree in Spring 2021.

She said she is blessed to have a job she loves and a program that is flexible, allowing her to balance work and life.

“TSTC has exceeded my expectations as an employee and student,” she said. “I love the help, the friendliness and family-like atmosphere. I feel right at home.”

She added that her favorite part of being TSTC’s Café cook is serving people and making them smile, because with everything she has had to overcome she knows the importance of not taking life for granted.

“Everything I do, I do with my daughter in mind. I want her to see that no matter the trials and tribulations, you can still accomplish your dreams,” she said. “And that’s what I’m doing here at TSTC, moving forward with my goals so I can make my dreams come true.”

Bankston plans on continuing to travel around the United States, adding Mexico to the list soon, maybe even Italy in the future.

And while her ultimate goal is to own a successful restaurant, she said she is going to work hard in first, completing Cybersecurity and second, getting a government or state job that will allow her to use the skills she learns.

“With this degree I have the opportunity to start a new career in numerous areas. It really opens doors,” she said. “And although there are and will be obstacles to overcome, I can’t wait to put all – restaurant and cybersecurity – skills together to become a leader in my industries.”

Cybersecurity is offered online or at TSTC’s Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Waco and East Williamson County campuses. And, beginning Fall 2020, Cybersecurity Technology will be one of the Performance-Based Education programs offered at TSTC. PBE allows students the flexibility to move through the program at their own pace. 

For more information, visit  

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Jerry Nieto graduated Spring 2019 with an associate degree from TSTC Electrical Power and Controls. He is now a master field technician for EATON in Houston.

(ROSENBERG, Texas) - Jerry Nieto sold the business he co-owned and he wanted to travel the world, but a life surprise led him to Texas State Technical College. 

The Brownsville native graduated with an associate degree from TSTC’s Electrical Power and Controls program in Spring 2019, and since then has found success within his chosen field.

“We came out strong after selling the business and I wanted to travel with my wife and daughter, but suddenly there was a new baby on the way, and I knew I needed to find something that would help me support my family,” said Nieto.

After being a utility business owner for nearly a decade, Nieto said he had research to do on colleges and careers, but then TSTC came to mind.

“I remembered TSTC and recalled hearing that it had strong programs that led to career opportunities,” he said. “And it turned out to be my best decision ever.”

Nieto’s son was born in 2017, at the beginning of Nieto’s program, and said it was not easy being a full-time student and parent of two, but he said he focused on what the program could give him and his family, and kept that in mind the entire time.

“I could see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Nieto. “So while it was no easy feat, I knew that what I was doing was for all of us.”

From TSTC’s real-world, hands-on training on industry-standard equipment to assistance with job placement, Nieto said he knew he was on his way to a new, successful career.

In fact, he was part of the first TSTC Electrical Power and Controls class to attend the EATON Experience Center in Houston last year.

Students, like Nieto, who visited the EATON Experience Center had the opportunity to speak with EATON leaders and professionals, tour the facility and get hands-on experience within the company’s training center.

“This was the first time I was introduced to EATON and it really opened my eyes,” he said. “It’s great that TSTC gave us this type of opportunity, it was really above and beyond. And because of it, I now work for EATON with a competitive salary and excellent benefits.”

One week after Nieto visited the EATON Experience Center he interviewed with the company, which led to a job offer before even graduating from his program.

Nieto is now a master field service technician troubleshooting, testing and performing preventative maintenance on electrical equipment such as breakers, transformers and switch gears throughout the state.

“I can now provide for my family and have more time to spend with them,” said Nieto. “I am so content with where my life is going and none of it would have been possible without TSTC.”

Students in Electrical Power and Controls will learn skills in specializations such as electrical engineering and design, installation and calibration, robotics interfacing and electrical construction and can work as electrical and electronics engineering technicians, electrical repairers, electrical designers, substation electricians and testing and maintenance technicians.

And if a graduate does not find a job within six months of graduating from the program, their tuition can be reimbursed, thanks to the program’s money-back guarantee.

Electrical Power and Controls is also offered at TSTC’s Abilene, North Texas, Waco and East Williamson County campuses.

For more information, visit