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TSTC welcomed Senator Ted Cruz on campus for an announcement on legislation that will benefit students, like those at TSTC, who want to pursue a technical education.

(ROSENBERG) - United States Senator Ted Cruz toured Texas State Technical College recently after announcing new legislation that will benefit students who pursue a technical education.


“To keep up with the rest of the world and be competitive we need to continue growing the skilled workforce we need to keep our economy moving forward,” said Cruz. “And this bill, at the end of the day, will match people with their passion and work for the state and its industries.”


Cruz introduced the special legislation cited as the “Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act” to TSTC leadership and Fort Bend County industry leaders.


The act establishes tax credits to encourage individual and corporate taxpayers to make scholarship contributions to workforce training organizations, like TSTC.


Contributions can provide students with scholarships for secondary or postsecondary vocational education and training, including preparation and examination costs relating to certificates or credentials, or industry recognized certification or credentialing programs.


Chancellor Mike Reeser said 60 percent of the jobs in Texas require some kind of education beyond high school and half of those require only a certificate or two-year degree like the ones offered at TSTC.


“The beauty of hosting you (Cruz) today is the great impact this new bill can have for these students seeking these opportunities,” said Reeser. “A lot of families struggle to pay for college and having the opportunity to increase the amounts of scholarships for families is absolutely crucial to us expanding the availability of a skilled workforce.”  


After the announcement, Cruz toured the campus and visited technical programs - Electrical Lineworker Technology, Diesel Equipment Technology and Robotics Technology -  in the Industrial Technology Center and Brazos Center. ranks TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program as best in the state.


He spoke one-on-one with program instructors and students during the tour to get an inside look into the type of skills training TSTC is providing.


TSTC, a leader in technical education statewide, offers more than 60 technical programs of study. And because of its legislative mission, the college has focused its resources and efforts on technical education and emerging technology, and filling the skills gap that exists statewide.


“TSTC is doing a great job at training students to ensure that they can support their families and stand on their own,” said Cruz. “Walking through campus and hearing that employers are knocking on their doors asking for graduates and that they’re earning high-earning careers is impressive.”


After the tour, Cruz sat down with TSTC leadership, TSTC Robotics Technology student Joshua Schott, Electrical Lineworker Technology student Isaac Hughes, and industry leaders such as ExxonMobil, Schlumberger, CenterPoint Energy, Houston Area Safety Council and the George Foundation for a roundtable.


Cruz praised TSTC for the training the college is providing industry in the region. TSTC currently serves more than 500 students, but is expected to grow enrollment to 5,000 within the next decade.  


Cruz also thanked TSTC for giving men and women the critical skills needed to achieve successful careers and expanding educational opportunities for Texas and its residents.


“I’m a fan of technical education and if this legislation is passed this could truly be transformational,” said Cruz. “And it will take time to pass, but once we build a broader coalition and support, this bill it will be a win-win for everyone.”

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John Kennedy.

(FORT BEND) - Field Development Officer John Kennedy, who has been with Texas State Technical College since the expansion in Fort Bend County in 2014, has recently been named a Chancellor’s Excellence Award recipient.

The Sugar Land native has worked diligently with TSTC donors to raise funds for scholarships, has collaborated with local industry partners and has served as an ambassador throughout the community for TSTC.

“I never expected this,” he said. “There are scores of people who I know deserve this award, so I am humbled.”

Kennedy was nominated by his peers, provost and vice chancellor and chosen among 160 faculty and staff members nominated for his distinguished service and dedication to the college, community and the state.

“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.”

For nearly two decades, the Chancellor’s Excellence Award has celebrated employees who exhibit TSTC’s core values of Excellence, Accountability, Service and Integrity.

Coming from a long-time career in the hospitality industry and tasked with the mission of expanding TSTC in Fort Bend County, Kennedy realized his favorite part of the job immediately: giving someone the chance at a better life.

“Everyone at TSTC shares a unique opportunity; and that is to give the people in our community an education and a skill that will change their life,” said Kennedy. “There is nothing like seeing our students with their families at commencement. It’s moving and motivating.”

Kennedy said his goal is to continue increasing engagement and interest in TSTC statewide, so that students can continue to have scholarship opportunities.

“Many of our students rely on these scholarships,” he said. “For many, this is a game changer.”

TSTC’s Vice President of Development Pete Rowe has worked with Kennedy for almost five years. In fact, it was Rowe who invited him to join the team.

“As soon as you meet Kennedy you can feel his confidence and see his intelligence. We have a tremendous respect for John,” said Rowe. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the Chancellor’s Award than John. His passion for the college and its students is what drives his work and his success. He always puts TSTC and helping others first.”

In addition to serving his community through education, Kennedy also serves the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston as an ordained deacon at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Sugar Land.

“I enjoy the possibility of helping people and making a difference in their lives,” said Kennedy. “My passion is serving and I carry that over to TSTC and I want to thank those who nominated me and see this. I hope to be able to continue fulfilling expectations now and in the future.”

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Christina Vargas


(FORT BEND) - Christina Vargas is the Assistant Director of Enrollment Management for Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County and has added Chancellor’s Excellence Award recipient to her title.

“I was overwhelmed and humbled when I found out about this recognition,” said Vargas. “I know so many hard workers that I look up to and I know are deserving. So this was an unexpected honor.”

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award has celebrated employees who exhibit TSTC’s core values of Excellence, Accountability, Service and Integrity for the last 19 years.

TSTC employees are nominated by their peers, provosts and vice chancellors and are chosen for their distinguished service and dedication to the college, communities and their state for this award.

“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.”

Vargas was selected among 160 faculty and staff members who were nominated and is one of 35 recipients statewide.

It’s been two years since Vargas first arrived at TSTC, and as a Rosenberg native she said she is happy to be home.

“It feels great to be serving the community where I grew up with education,” she said. “Being back here has brought back so many great memories.”

Although Vargas has an hour to an hour-and-a-half drive every day from Victoria, where her and her family reside, she said it’s worth it because she gets to change lives for the better.

“Helping students find success is my favorite thing,” said Vargas. “Especially when they thought college was out of reach for them. And seeing them put on that cap and gown is the cherry on top.”

Vargas has been serving students in various capacities for more than 2 decades. She came to TSTC with extensive experience in teaching for both public and private school, and with student services experience from Victoria College and University of Houston-Victoria, both of which she also attended as a student.

“I look forward to growing with the campus,” said Vargas. “I have a great team that inspires, encourages and motivated each other and our students, and TSTC cares not only about their students’ success, but also about their faculty and staff growing. This is what makes TSTC a great place to work.”

Vargas said TSTC overall has won her family over because even her son is part of the TSTC family as a student in Environmental Compliance Technology.

“TSTC is changing lives every day, including ours,” said Vargas. “It’s great to be a part of something big like this and I’m honored that someone, somewhere feels that work I am doing is invaluable and worthy. The Chancellor’s Excellence Award is a validation and great honor.”

Vargas will be honored in May at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Awards dinner and celebration in Austin where, she and the other Chancellor’s Award recipients, will receive their awards.

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TSTC in Fort Bend County will host its first Industry Job Fair on March 19 from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

In line with its of mission of placing more Texans in high-paying jobs,

Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County will be hosting its first Industry Job Fair for TSTC students and alumni.

The job fair will be hosted at the TSTC campus located at 26706 Southwest Freeway in Rosenberg with more than 40 companies signed up to  accept resumes and conduct on-site interviews. 

“The growth we have seen on this campus is exponential,” said TSTC Talent Management and Career Services coordinator Judy Cox. “And because of the highly-skilled students we’re producing and sending out into the workforce, we’re becoming more popular among local industries.”

Industry Job Fairs are an annual event hosted across TSTC’s 10 campuses statewide.

“Many of the industry reps who will be attending this event have hired TSTC students in the past or are interested in hiring,” said Cox. “One of the major reasons for hosting this job fair comes from request of these companies.”

TSTC students and alumni can expect to see companies such as Atec, Inc., a product and service manufacturer for aerospace and energy; Burns & McDonnell, a construction and engineering company; Coonrod Electric, an electrical construction services company; Crown Lift Trucks; HEB; Travel Centers of America-Petro; among others.

“TSTC is the technical education leader in Texas and companies know this,” said Cox. “And as industry continues to boom in our area and across the state, opportunities for our students grow.”

Cox added that programs at TSTC can be completed within two years or less, which in turn can save the student money and get them out into the workforce quicker.

This also allows TSTC to meet the increasing industry demand for more middle-skilled workers, which in most cases requires an education beyond high school, but not a four-year degree.

TSTC students and alumni are encouraged to attend the job fair and arrive dressed to impress and with updated resumes in hand.

If a student or alumni needs assistance preparing for the job fair, the college’s Talent Management and Career Services office offers resume writing assistance and interview coaching.   

Among these services, which are offered throughout the year, TSTC also offers job search assistance and for employers and industry partners, Employer Spotlights.

Employer Spotlights include on-campus recruiting visits used by employers to meet and speak to TSTC students and graduates about job opportunities.

“Our goal is to get our students hired before they graduate and this job fair is another tool in our arsenal that gives our students in the Fort Bend County area an advantage,” said Cox. “This will open up a world of opportunities for our students and industry partners.”

For more information on the Industry Job Fair or the services offered to students, alumni and employers, call Talent Management and Career Services at 346-239-3429.

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TSTC in Fort Bend County Open House will be March 22 from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County invites all prospective students, community leaders and neighbors to its annual Open House.


The open house will be Friday, March 22, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at TSTC’s Brazos Center located at 26706 Southwest Freeway in Rosenberg.  


“This is an opportunity for us to showcase our campus and the type of technical education TSTC is providing to the local community and the state,” said TSTC student recruitment coordinator Yulonda Durst. “Events like this are eye-openers and give people a better understanding of who we are and what we provide.”


TSTC in Fort Bend County is one of 10 campuses throughout the state. It offers certificates and associate degrees in programs such as Cyber Security, Diesel Equipment Technology, Electrical Lineworker Technology and Welding Technology.


“We offer degrees in two years or less that can lead to great-paying jobs,” said Durst. “We’re focused on providing the skills needed for successful careers and on providing the state with a quality workforce.”


According to research conducted by the National Skills Coalition, 53 percent of all jobs are at the middle-skill level, but only 43 percent of the United States workforce is trained for this type of work.


Closing this skills gap and building a stronger economy is what Texas State Technical College has set out to do.


The National Skills Coalition reports that the majority of middle-skill job opportunities require education and training beyond high school, but not a four-year degree.


Durst said that during Open House those in attendance can learn firsthand about the training opportunities TSTC has to offer.


Programs will offer hands-on activities and demonstrations to give attendees the TSTC experience.


“We offer a wide variety of programs that have an in-demand workforce,” said Durst. “And so we hope that many will find TSTC a good fit for them.”


During the open house, TSTC will also offer 30-minute sessions on financial aid, college admissions and the “411 on TSTC.”


Campus tours and lunch will also be available. And every student who applies to TSTC during the Open House will be entered to win a TSTC scholarship for tuition, books and supplies.


“We want to encourage everyone who’s interested or curious about TSTC to stop by,” said Durst. “This is going to be a one-stop shop to get everything needed for registration ready. This could be the start to someone’s successful future.”


Registration for the TSTC Open House is online at Save the QR code to save time on the day of the event.


For more information on TSTC in Fort Bend County and the programs it offers, visit

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A new partnership between Texas State Technical College and power management company Eaton is giving TSTC Electrical Power and Controls students an invaluable training opportunity.

Eaton, a global technology leader in electrical systems, and TSTC have been working closely for a year to create a program that would open the doors of Eaton’s Experience Center in Houston for the program’s students.

“I can’t put into words how valuable this partnership with Eaton is for our students and TSTC,” said TSTC Electrical Power and Controls instructor Jonathan Bonkoske. “This is a dream come true, and we are looking forward to the kind of opportunity this can bring.”

Recently the current cohort of Electrical Power and Controls students was invited to tour and train at the Eaton Experience Center, which provides a unique ability to give visitors hands-on training in a true application environment.

“This place is perfect to provide our students with a firsthand look as to what they can expect when they enter the field,” said Bonkoske. “And it also gives our students the chance to network with industry professionals.”

Although TSTC’s Electrical Power and Controls lab offers industry-standard equipment and tools, Bonkoske said there’s nothing that compares to seeing and using it out in the field.

TSTC Electrical Power and Controls student Thomas Penney from West Columbia, Texas, said that the training he receives at TSTC, in addition to the training he received at the Eaton Experience Center, has prepared him for a successful career.

“This experience has truly been an eye-opener,” said Penney. “I give our instructors props for working hard to give us this type of opportunity and for setting us up for success.”

Penney plans to graduate with his associate degree this summer and said he hopes this newly formed partnership will continue for years to come to benefit other students.

“This is great real-world experience, and I hope others that come after our class have the same opportunity,” said Penney. “I’m pretty sure it’ll only get better from here.”

Eaton District Operations Manager Joe Montanari and Bonkoske agree that this partnership promises to grow over time.

“This partnership is our contribution to education,” said Montanari. “And when I toured TSTC and the Electrical Power and Controls labs, they left an impression. Many students don’t get the type of training TSTC students receive.”

Montanari said the hands-on training the Eaton Experience Center provides is a supplement to what students are already learning at TSTC, and future plans for the partnership include supporting the program with equipment and tools, sending field engineers and technicians to the college for presentations, and ultimately hiring TSTC graduates.

Montanari’s counterparts in North Texas already work closely with and hire graduates from TSTC in Waco.

“TSTC students come highly recommended,” said Montanari. “And I’ve already been impressed with the students’ engagement, willingness to learn and excitement they have shown us.”

Bonkoske added that the opportunities found at Eaton’s Experience Center extend beyond Electrical Power and Controls, and he hopes in the near future he can incorporate Electrical Lineworker Technology, Cyber Security Technology and Industrial Maintenance into this training experience.

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

For more information on the program, visit  

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Camille Martinez is a student in TSTC's HVAC Technology program and expects to graduate in Summer 2019.

Camille Martinez thought she had settled on her life-long career right out of high school, but after more than a decade and realizing she was no longer growing without a degree, she took her life in a different direction.

The 39-year-old is now a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) student at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County and the only female in the program.

“I can’t tell you why or how I became interested in HVAC, except that we live in Texas and we always need air conditioners,” she said with a laugh. “But in all seriousness, I know that HVAC is a stable industry and I will probably never be out of job or opportunities.”

For more than a decade Martinez worked with Texas Instruments in photolithography, processing images on chips that are part of fabrication for technologies used in, among other things, toys such as the Furby doll.

“Life was good, and I got comfortable. I was making really good money without a college degree,” said Martinez. “But at the same time not having that degree was weighing on me and I didn’t have growth opportunities because of it.”

So for a little over a year, she lived off her savings so she could begin the process of returning to school, but in the midst of it all her mother got ill and Martinez  became her full-time caregiver.

“My mom was my motivator. What was I was going to do without her?” said Martinez. “The one thing I know she wanted for me was to become a college graduate, so after she passed away in June I set out to do just that.”

The Richmond native holds a perfect 4.0 grade-point average, was recently invited to join Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society for her academic achievement and expects to earn her certificate in Summer 2019.

“I’m excited for this new chapter in my life,” she said. “I now have a goal, opportunities and the chance at a long-term career.”

She said her time at TSTC has been life-changing and her hands-on training invaluable. From the instructors to her classmates, who she now considers little brothers, she said her experience at TSTC has been a positive one.

“Everyone has been so supportive, encouraging and motivating,” said Martinez. “I never expected this, especially as the only woman in the class. But they have all proved me wrong. In fact, I’ve come to learn that everyone on campus plays a part in our success.”

Now with everything in place for Martinez, she said she expects to return to TSTC for an associate degree  and looks forward to begin her career working in the field to gain experience that she hopes leads to her very own HVAC company.

“My family has been so supportive making this an easy decision for me,” she said. “Because at TSTC I’m no longer wandering. I have a path and a sense of accomplishment. I have a future.”

Students like Martinez, who are enrolled in HVAC Technology, have access to industry-standard labs and an opportunity to learn and practice on commercial and residential heating and air conditioning equipment, refrigeration equipment and chilled water systems.

There are certificate and degree tracks provided so students can enter the field as skilled HVAC mechanics or installers.

HVAC Technology is also offered at TSTC’s Harlingen, North Texas, Waco and Williamson County Campuses.

For more information, visit

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Jerroll Hodge graduated with an associate degree in Welding Technology from Waco, and now he has returned as a welding instructor for TSTC in Fort Bend County.

From student to instructor, Jerroll Hodge is back at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County and is ready for his new role.

Hodge graduated from TSTC in Waco in 2016 with an associate degree in Welding Technology and said he never imagined he would return to the college in this capacity.

“I’ve had a passion for the art of welding since high school, but it wasn’t until recently when I began to think about teaching,” said Hodge. “I have learned so much out in the field that I want to share with younger welders.”

The 24-year-old worked as a welder with National Oilwell Varco, a leading provider for equipment and components used in oil and gas drilling, before getting hired as a Welding Technology instructor.

“This is new territory for me. This is my first time as an instructor, but everyone has been so helpful and welcoming,” said Hodge.

Hodge has more than five years welding experience under his belt. He began welding barbeque pits and trailers, among other things, his junior year in high school competing against other students and continued on into college working part-time as a welder while he was in school.

“I was undecided about college until I started welding,” he said. “I figured I’m good at it, I love it…why not pursue it as a career. Welding to me isn’t a job, it’s fun.”

When Hodge was researching colleges, he had a family member attending TSTC and it was an invite to the campus in Waco that helped him decide it was the right place for him.

“It was the perfect fit. I knew it was where I was supposed to be,” said Hodge. “The instructors were amazing in how they taught us and shared their real-world experiences with us. They supported us and really pushed us to be our best. I want to be that for my students now.”

The Huntsville native said he hopes to become the instructor that students feel comfortable going to for advice about welding or life.

His goal is to bring all of his knowledge forward to ensure that he can mold and create great welders for the industry.

“I had a job before even graduating and that’s my goal for these students,” said Hodge. “I want them to be as prepared, if not more, than I was when I entered the field.”

TSTC offers Welding Technology at each of its ten campuses located in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas Sweetwater, Waco and Williamson County. For more information, visit

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Cheyenne Kuta earned an associate degree in Welding Technology on Monday night from TSTC during the commencement ceremony hosted at the Stafford Centre.

(FORT BEND COUNTY) - Cheyenne Kuta was only 16-years-old when she purchased her first $5,600 welding machine, she knew at the time that this would be a great investment toward her future.

Fast forward to December 2018, she is now a graduate from Welding Technology at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County.

“I’m so excited to finally be celebrating this milestone,” said Kuta. “I’m excited to begin working and looking forward to a successful career in welding.”  

The Plantersville native walked across the stage Monday night at the Stafford Centre in Stafford, Texas as an honors graduate with a grade-point average of 3.75 and received two certificates and an associate degree from TSTC.

She joined close to 60 other graduates from TSTC in Fort Bend County who also earned certificates and associate degrees.

“We are so proud of our daughter,” said Kuta’s mother Sandra Kuta. “She has achieved so much at the young age of 19. She’s goal-oriented, driven and determined. All of this has carried her to the top.”

Kuta was exposed to the field of welding at an early age by her grandfather and uncle. She eventually began her own welding journey in high school.

She quickly rose to the top, beating a lot of the boys in her class and earning two “Top 10 Awards” in the high school’s welding department.

“I really got into welding. I loved it and I was good at it,” said Kuta. “I had a lot of support and a great mentor.”

That mentor was Don Tullos, president of Texas Boiler Makers in Kuta’s hometown. Kuta said he took her under his wing and always encouraged her to continue in the field no matter what the men said.

“There came a point where I was going to Don’s shop every day to practice my welding,” said Kuta. “Then one day he told me, ‘You’re really great at this. You could make this a career.’ And it all changed for me.”

Tullos was also the person who introduced Kuta to TSTC. She toured both the Waco and Fort Bend County campuses, and although further from home, TSTC in Fort Bend County was the perfect fit for her.

“It was a new campus with new labs and equipment. I couldn’t wait to start,” she said. “There were also still smaller class sizes so that meant more one-on-one time with instructors.”

It was August 2017, when Kuta enrolled at TSTC, set up a trailer at a local RV park, where she stayed during the week; and sped up her program completion by testing out of Welding Technology introduction courses because of the welding experience she brought from high school.

Kuta was even inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.

“TSTC was a really great experience for me. It was a great place to kick-off my welding career,” she said. “And I was fortunate enough to have instructors who believed me, supported me and pushed me to be the best welder I could be.”

TSTC Welding Instructor David Torres called Kuta a great welding student who is goal driven.

“Cheyenne is very dedicated and you can see that dedication in her welding abilities,” said Torres. She’s always lending a helping hand and coming in early and staying late to build her skills. She will go far in this industry; I know she’ll make it because she has all of the skills. Her future is bright.”

Kuta also said the best thing, for her, about graduating from TSTC, is that she is leaving debt free because of a collection of scholarships she received in high school, financial aid and non-traditional students scholarships from TSTC and other welding industry organizations.

Her advice for other students, “Always put yourself out there. Apply for scholarships, you just never know. This is a possibility for everyone,” she said.

She also wants other girls and women to know that there is no need to feel intimidated about entering into a male-dominated career.

“Don’t be scared. If you have a passion for something and you want to do it, do it,” Kuta said.

“We can do the job just as good, if not better, than the men. Let’s show them what we got.”

So what’s in Kuta’s future?

She has already begun the job application process. She has interviewed with several oil field companies such as National Oilwell, Conroe and Baker Hughes.

“The oilfield is where the jobs are at and I can’t wait to get started,” she said.

Kuta also hopes to become a Certified Welding Inspector and a Certified Welding Instructor in the coming years.

For more information on Welding Technology, visit

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Joel Staner will graduate with an associate degree on Monday from TSTC's Diesel Equipment Technology program and is already working as a diesel tech at Travel Centers of America.

(FORT BEND COUNTY) - With a bachelor’s degree, but ready for a career change and a new challenge, 58-year-old Joel Staner enrolled in Diesel Equipment Technology-Heavy Truck Specialization at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County two years ago.

And on Monday, Staner will graduate with an associate degree and as a Board of Regent honors graduate with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.

“TSTC has been such a great experience for me,” said Staner. “I was a little intimidated coming back to school at my age, but I think that also gave me an advantage because I knew the kind of dedication and commitment it would take to successfully finish.”

Staner said when he first received his bachelor’s degree in psychology and general business in 1993 he was young and only took this path because it was the only opportunity available to him at the time.

“I never used my degree,” said the Sheridan native. “I took advantage of the educational opportunity, but these fields were never truly my passion.”

Leading up to his time at TSTC, Staner worked as a car salesman, a hardware customer service and sales specialist and as a general manager for an animal rescue shelter in his hometown.

For the man who owns acreage with horses, chickens and at least a dozen dogs and cats, the animal shelter gig was his favorite.

“For the last nine years I have worked at an animal shelter and it’s been the greatest,” said Staner. “But I needed a change, a career of my own; one that I was passionate about.”

With the exception of minor repair and maintenance on heavy farm equipment such as tractors, the diesel equipment field was new to Staner.

“After touring the campus and visiting with advisors, Diesel Equipment Technology seemed like the best fit for me,” said Staner. “And honestly the hands-on approach TSTC takes in its teaching is what got me.”

Staner said what made all of the difference during his time at TSTC was the genuine care faculty has for their students and their willingness to answer questions and ensure that students understand the material.

He credits not only his hard work, but also the faculty for his success because not only was he inducted into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society for his grades, but he accepted a job offer and started his career before earning his degree.

“This college offers its students so many opportunities to network with industry recruiters and professionals,” said Staner. “It was during one of these events that I was offered a job.”

Staner is now a diesel technician with Travel Centers of America, where he has been working full-time since May.

“The pay is great, the benefits are excellent and they worked with my school schedule,” said Staner. “Going to school and working full-time has been no easy feat.”

Unfortunately, for Staner, he will be traveling to Ohio for job training on the day of TSTC in Fort Bend County’s commencement, so he will be unable to walk the stage in his cap and gown.

“Sure, I’ll miss the commencement experience, but it’s worth it,” he said. “This is the career that will sustain me for the next 15 years or so. So I’m excited to be done and focusing on a new career.”

Staner also said there may be management opportunities with Travel Centers of America in the future, so just maybe he’ll get to use his general business degree after all.

“I changed directions in my life and TSTC was the vehicle that enabled me to change careers,” said Staner.

Staner is one of close to 1,000 TSTC students earning a certificate or associate degree statewide and will join an alumni network of more than 100,000 TSTC graduates.

TSTC in Fort Bend County will host its commencement ceremony on Monday, December 10 at the Stafford Centre in Stafford, Texas at 6 p.m.

For more information on Diesel Equipment Technology, visit