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A TSTC instructor works with students to ensure that they understand the course material that is given to them in class and labs.

(TEXAS) - With Texas State Technical College rapidly growing and the demand for a skilled workforce increasing, TSTC is hiring to fill more than 200 positions by 2019.

“TSTC is expanding course offerings to meet employer demands within the state,” said TSTC Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Pamela Mayfield. “To do this, we need knowledgeable and passionate faculty and staff who are committed to high quality student achievement.”

The ideal candidate is someone looking for a career change or transition and will have a passion to share their technical and industrial field experience in the classroom.  

“TSTC graduates are highly valued by business and industry for their work ethic, knowledge and workplace skills,” said Mayfield. “So we would expect the same attributes in our TSTC faculty and staff along with integrity, excellence, service and accountability.”

Depending on the position, the applicant will need to have one to five years of work experience in their industry, along with an associate degree or higher.

Some teaching or training experience is preferred, but not required.

“Being on the TSTC team is more than a job; it’s the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our students,” said Mayfield. “TSTC is the business of success and it takes a diverse team of dedicated, passionate and talented players working together to achieve goals.”

Faculty positions in high demand technical programs such as Welding Technology, Precision Machining Technology and HVAC Technology are needing to be filled.

There are also openings for staff in the areas of recruitment, information technology and the TSTC police department.

“Each TSTC team member possesses unique skill, perspective and style,” said Mayfield. “And when our employee and customer come together we grow stronger and change lives.”

A TSTC System employee is eligible to receive a competitive salary; benefits that include health, dental, vision, paid sick and vacation time; flexible spending accounts, retirement fund options, employee assistance programs and employee discounts, as well as a respect for employee work-life-balance.

“We have a rich diversity in our employees and customers across our 10 campuses that together gives us a unique advantage as we serve the state,” said Mayfield. “And we encourage people to explore TSTC and what it means to be on this team. TSTC prides itself on being a ‘Great Place to Work.’”

TSTC’s mission is to contribute to the educational and economic development of the state of Texas by offering technical programs and supported academic coursework.  

TSTC is made up of 10 campuses across the state and has been training and placing Texans in great paying jobs for more than 50 years.

Employment applications are already being accepted with the interview process beginning immediately for many positions.

The positions are expected to be filled by January 2019.

For more information or to apply, visit or call 254-867-4810.  

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A TSTC instructor works with students to ensure that they understand the course material that is given to them in class and labs.

Texas State Technical College is looking for faculty to join the family and, to that end, will be hosting a Faculty Recruitment Fair on Thursday, December 13.

The event, hosted at TSTC’s Brazos Center from 2 to 6:30 p.m., will offer those interested in bringing their talents to the classroom the opportunity to apply and complete an on-site interview with faculty and staff.  

“We need additional faculty to support the growth the Fort Bend County campus is seeing. We’re growing rapidly,” said Toni Lerch, TSTC Human Resources manager. “We’re looking for people who are passionate about their professional field and are ready to share their technical knowledge, skills and abilities with the workforce of tomorrow.”

There are faculty openings in the high demand programs of Welding Technology, Precision Machining Technology, Diesel Equipment Technology, HVAC Technology, Cyber Security Technology and Electrical Power and Controls.

Lerch said ideal candidates should have at least three to five years experience in their industry expertise and an associate degree or higher.

Some teaching or training experience is preferred, but not required.

“We want people who can take what they have learned in the technical/industrial field and share it in the classroom,” said Lerch. “Teaching a trade can be such a rewarding career and they will be joining a wonderful family.”

TSTC offers competitive salaries; a state employee benefits package that includes health, dental and vision; and paid sick and vacation leave.

Lerch said she encourages everyone interested in applying to attend the recruiting event.

“This is not your typical event,” said Lerch. “We’ll be offering a glimpse inside one of the area’s newest campuses and showcasing our classrooms and labs. Not many people get to tour a place they’re applying to during a recruitment fair, so this is a great opportunity.”  

TSTC Associate Provost Bryan Bowling said instructors play a critical and rewarding role in changing lives.

“There is a huge technical skills gap in Texas today and with the incredible growth we’re seeing in the state and at TSTC in Fort Bend County we need additional instructors so we can continue to meet the increasing demand for technically skilled graduates,” said Bowling. “Our instructors are the heart of our organization and we rely heavily on the breadth of their knowledge.”

TSTC prides itself on being a “great place to work” offering great benefits, employee development opportunities and state-of-the-art teaching facilities.

With more than 200 positions available statewide, applications are being accepted. Positions are scheduled to be filled by January. For more information or to apply, visit

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TSTC in Fort Bend County Student Government Association President Rene Escobar organizes and stocks the pantry to ensure it's always ready for students in need.

(FORT BEND COUNTY) - Hunger and homelessness is widespread among college students and to help battle this issue Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County has set up a student food pantry.

 TSTC Campus Enrollment Executive Georgeann Calzada said the mission of the pantry is to provide struggling students with meals.

 “The goal with all of our support resources is to fill a gap for our students until we have a permanent solution and/or they are able to get back on their feet with the support of one of the many community organizations we work with,” said Calzada. “Food insecurities are great concern across college and university campuses.”

 On average, the food pantry at TSTC will assist at least five students a week.

 The pantry is filled with canned goods, cereals, soups, oatmeal, and toiletries such as shampoos, soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

 “We realize our students enter college with outside factors that might impact their learning environment,” said Calzada. “Many of our students work paycheck-to-paycheck and try to make it with only five dollars in their pocket, so we want to help get them through this period in their life to get them on their way to a career.”  

 Many of the items the pantry is stocked with are donations that come from TSTC staff and faculty and community businesses and neighbors.

 The last large donation for the pantry came from Kroger’s, which donated $200 worth of food.

The pantry is primarily used for students, but when Hurricane Harvey hit, the outpouring of donations from TSTC campuses across the state and from the community allowed the pantry to be open  to faculty and staff in need as well during that period.

 According to the recent study “Still Hungry and Homeless in College,” by researchers at Temple University and Wisconsin HOPE Lab, 42 percent of community college students describe themselves as food insecure, with one third saying they have skipped meals or eaten smaller portions to cut costs.

 TSTC Student Government Association president Rene Escobar works at the pantry part-time assisting with restocking and organizing and said he has seen firsthand how the pantry helps alleviate student stress.

 “Having a food pantry on campus helps make students feel at home,” said Escobar. “Students know they are welcome to come by anytime and get what they need. In turn, this allows them to focus more on school.”

 Escobar, who is also a Diesel Equipment Technology student at TSTC, said he encourages students to use the pantry.

 “Students should not be embarrassed about using the pantry. Sometimes there’s a negative stigma that surrounds asking for help,” said he said. “But this pantry is here for them. To help them in their journey to success. They should take full advantage of the service, it’s okay to ask for help.”

 Calzada said she wants students to be aware that TSTC is there to assist them through every challenge and obstacle they face during their time at the college.

 “Our pantry has made the progress needed with the continued growth of our campus and we will continue to provide the needed services for our students,” said Calzada. “Since we’re a commuter campus, fuel is also a big issue for our students, so with the support of our provost we’ve set funds aside for gas cards.  As long as the student continues to do his/her part to attend and pass classes then we’ll do everything in our power to alleviate struggles.” 

 For more information on the student food pantry or to donate, call 346-239-3422.

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Counselors from the Fort Bend County and Houston area school districts gathered at TSTC for the Fort Bend County campus' second annual Counselor Update.

(FORT BEND) - Counselors from across Fort Bend County and the Houston area recently gathered at Texas State Technical College for the Fort Bend County campus’ second annual Counselor Update.

Counselor Updates are hosted by TSTC across the state to keep counselors informed about admission, financial aid and changes in programs, and to give them the opportunity to hear from students and alumni and meet TSTC faculty and staff.

During the recent event, more than 70 counselors got an in-depth look into the 10 programs offered at TSTC in Fort Bend County, took a tour of the campus and heard firsthand about the impact TSTC has on students and alumni. The campus’ provost, Randy Wooten, also shared a few words with the counselors.

Millie Perez, a Houston Independent School District transition coach, voiced appreciation for the event and the opportunity to visit the campus.

“This was my first Counselor Update and first time at TSTC. I’m very impressed,” said Perez. “I’ve really enjoyed my experience.”

Perez said she loves technical education and being able to have a part in helping fill the skills gap by learning about colleges like TSTC and the opportunities that are available for her students.

“I got an inside look at TSTC and got to explore the programs they offer,” she said. “I look forward to passing everything I learned on to my students so that they know this is a great postsecondary education option right in their backyard.”

TSTC student recruiter Yulonda Durst said the event was a success and that comments from counselors such as Perez made the achievement evident.

“Based on surveys, the counselors were very pleased with the programs they toured and stated they would definitely recommend TSTC to their students,” said Durst. “This event helped counselors realize that TSTC is not just another two-year technical college, but the start that their students need to get on the right career path.”

Durst said events like this help TSTC build relationships with counselors, career technology education teachers and school district administrators.

“Counselor Updates and other events like it help us build a pipeline from high school to TSTC that we as recruiters try to achieve during all of our recruiting events,” said Durst. “And one of our main goals is to provide information that counselors can use to help students who they deem are good candidates for TSTC so they understand the benefits we provide.”

Registration for Spring 2019 is underway. TSTC will host a Registration Rally, a one-stop registration event, at the TSTC Brazos Center on the Fort Bend County campus on Friday, December 7.

For more information on TSTC and its programs, visit

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(FORT BEND COUNTY) - Laramie Christ always knew college was in his future, but out of high school he could not find one that was the right fit. That is, until he found Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County.

The Needville native was part of TSTC’s first Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) graduating class in the early 2000’s, when the college was still housed inside Wharton County Junior College (WCJC).

TSTC in Fort Bend County now stands on its own along Southwest Freeway in Rosenberg and includes two buildings: the Industrial Technology Center and Brazos Center that house 10 technical programs. The campus is expected to grow to hold at least eight buildings in the future.

“I wanted a career, but a four-year university was not for me,” said Christ. “I knew I could not sit still long enough to learn anything by book. I learn by doing.”

Christ was a student studying his academics at WCJC when he learned that TSTC was coming to town.

“I immediately loved TSTC’s hands-on approach, so I enrolled,” he said.

After doing his research, the 37-year-old realized that HVAC was a sustainable and steady business, which meant job security for him.

“Everyone needs HVAC services, especially in Texas,” he said with a laugh. “It was the perfect program for me.”

Upon earning his certificate and associate degree in HVAC Technology from TSTC he gained immediate employment with a local residential HVAC company.

After three years and gaining experience, he applied with Johnson Controls in Houston and 14 years later he is still there and climbing the ladder.

“TSTC gave me the foundation I needed to build a successful career,” said Christ. “I knew I could find success, and TSTC allowed me to do that.”

Christ began at Johnson Controls as an apprentice/tradesman. Then he got promoted to a journeyman/technician and now he is a technical team lead and oversees 15 employees.

Through his work at Johnson Controls he services large chillers and air handling equipment for 90 percent of Houston hospitals, the University of Houston, Shell, Exxon and TSTC in Fort Bend County.

“It’s quite funny how I came to service TSTC,” he said. “I arrived at the campus to talk about an instructor position and left with a service contract. It’s pretty ironic.”

Christ, once a year, also teaches a two-hour HVAC chillers course at TSTC. It’s an in-depth lesson that includes a hands-on session.

He said he loves speaking with students, answering their questions and seeing in their eyes how much they love what they’re learning.

“I love TSTC and this is my way of giving back and helping students grow,” he said. “They have the desire to achieve success and we need them in the field.”

Christ said he is proud to give back to the college that allowed him to gain a career with great pay and benefits that allows him to support his family.

“I’ve been able to do very well for my family thanks to TSTC,” he said. “They have helped me exceed my own expectations.”

HVAC Technology is offered at TSTC’s Fort Bend County, Harlingen, North Texas, Waco and Williamson County campuses.

For more information on HVAC Technology, visit

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Randy Ratcliff graduated with certificate and associate degree in HVAC Technology from TSTC. He has recently been promoted to service manager at El Campo Refrigeration.

(FORT BEND) - Nearly a decade after graduating from high school Randy Ratcliff became a college student, proving that it is never too late to get an education or a successful career.

“TSTC changed my life for the better,” said Ratcliff. “It set me up with the foundation to give my family better life.”

The 38-year-old, who is married with two children, graduated from TSTC HVAC Technology with a certificate and associate degree in 2009 and 2012 respectively and recently received a promotion – he is now the service manager at El Campo Refrigeration and Restaurant Supply, where he has worked for four years.

He started out as a service technician, but already had extensive experience in commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and refrigeration.

“I enjoy working outside and with my hands,” said Ratcliff. “And HVAC and refrigeration is always going to be a necessity. So for me there was no other career. HVAC was it.”

While Ratcliff waited for his wife to complete her degree, he worked at a polyvinyl chloride, or PVC manufacturing company in Wharton and did his research on colleges that offer HVAC.

“I knew I was looking for a college that offered hands-on learning. I knew a university wasn’t for me,” he said. “After a lot of research, I found TSTC online and when I learned about their hands-on approach, it clicked. It was the college for me.”

College was a challenge for Ratcliff. He was full-time student and had to work to support his family. But because he was an HVAC student, he was able to work for a local refrigeration company performing maintenance on ice machines while gaining experience.

“Everything I was learning in class I could apply out in the field while I worked,” he said. “That’s the beauty of TSTC. You practice with actual machinery and tools you use out in the field. It was enough to set me up with a successful career and make me competitive in my field.”

Ratcliff graduated with several job offers, including a full-time position where he was working at the time.

When El Campo Refrigeration, where he had already applied, learned about his various offers, they made him an offer he could not refuse.

“Randy has great work ethic and fits into our culture well,” said Michael Kennedy, owner of El Campo Refrigeration. “And the one quality that I really admire about Randy is his willingness to work side-by-side with our service technicians to help train and lead.”  

Ratcliff said he credits TSTC for helping him make his dreams a reality.

“If not for TSTC I would still be working shifts that keep me away from my family,” he said. “I would not have the opportunities I have been given. TSTC makes you employment-ready and employable.”

Ratcliff, as manager, is now reaching out to TSTC and other local colleges to recruit new employees and said its to help others who may be in the same position he was in when he was school.

“I’m always recommending TSTC, even to the guys I work with,” said Ratcliff. “I know that if I hire students from TSTC they would have received quality hands-on training and be work ready.”

HVAC Technology is offered at TSTC’s Fort Bend County, Harlingen, North Texas, Waco and Williamson County campuses.

For more information, visit

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Hunter Warner is a 2017 TSTC grad from the Diesel Equipment Technology program. He now works with Ag-Pro Companies in Harlingen, Texas.

As a child, Harlingen native Hunter Warner would help his father and friends work on cars and trucks.

 So wasting no time at all, when he was faced with figuring out his future after high school he enrolled in the Diesel Equipment Technology program at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County.

 His only challenge - having to move away from home for the first time.

 And although there were other diesel programs in the Valley, the now 20-year-old knew TSTC was the right fit for him because of his financial situation, it was a two-year program versus four-year and it was a brand new campus.

 “I had always heard about TSTC and it always came highly recommended by teachers and friends,” said Warner. “So when I heard about the new campus in Rosenberg and the new diesel program, I jumped on it. But moving away is never easy.”

 Like with any move, there were expenses to cover and for Warner who was a college student, there was also tuition, books and supplies.

 Fortunately, Warner received the TSTC Texan Success Scholarship and was able to transfer his sales representative position at Discount Tire to the Rosenberg location.

 “Although moving away was hard, it was overall a great experience and way of growing personally and professionally,” said Warner. “The training I received was invaluable. It laid my foundation.”

 Warner said he is a hands-on learner, so the majority of class time spent at the TSTC diesel lab working on assignments and projects with equipment actually used in industry helped him succeed.

 “School is not my forte. I learn by doing, not reading,” said Warner. “And although I did consider other colleges, TSTC stood out because of its hands-on learning.”  

 Before Warner walked across the commencement stage in December 2017 to receive his certificate in Diesel Equipment Technology, he had a job waiting for him with Ag-Pro Companies in Harlingen.

 “It was such a relief knowing I had a job waiting for me. Although, I was scared to take the plunge and leave my job at Discount Tire; I was comfortable,” he said. “But my family and friends encouraged me and told me not to let my education go to waste because of my fear.”

 So now Warner is back home working as a service technician at Ag-Pro on heavy equipment such as tractors. He will be celebrating his one-year anniversary in a couple of months.

 Ag-Pro Service Manager and Warner’s direct supervisor Christie Hill said it was his skills, know-how and his will to take initiative that caught her attention.

 “I knew he would be a great asset to our team,” said Hill. “He is self-motivated, not afraid to work on something new and gets along great with others.”

 Hill said he started out in the Lawn and Garden department and quickly got promoted to the heavy equipment side of the house.

 “His dream is to become a field technician and have his own truck,” she said. I have no doubt that he will get there sooner than later. He works hard and has ambition.”

 In fact, Warner will be attending a week-long session at John Deere School getting further training on electrics and hydraulics.

 Warner describes his job more as a hobby than actual work because he loves it so much, and he credits TSTC’s Placement Officer Judy Cox and his diesel program instructors for helping him open this chapter.

 “I want thank them for their tireless efforts in helping us students get a job,” said Warner. “Because of them I now have the dream of opening up my own diesel mechanics shop. And with what I learned at TSTC and the experience I’m gaining at Ag-Pro, I know that it can become reality.”

 “And it feels great to be back home,” he added.

 Diesel Technology is offered at TSTC’s Fort Bend County, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater and Waco campuses. For more information on Diesel Equipment Technology, visit

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(FORT BEND) - Grant Siebrecht knew he wanted to become a diesel mechanic, but with pressure from his family to attend a four-year university he thought his dream was impossible, until Texas State Technical College opened up in his community.

“TSTC had great timing,” said Siebrecht. “It had everything I was looking for in a college and because of it, I am now doing what I love.”

The Needville native was a new high school graduate in 2016, the same year TSTC in Fort Bend County opened its doors, and much to his surprise, Diesel Equipment Technology was an offered technical program.

“I went through some disapproval from some family members because it was a technical school,” said Siebrecht. “But I knew a four-year degree wasn’t for me. I needed to work with my hands and this place had it all.”

With support from his grandfather from the get-go, Siebrecht received emotional and financial support from him, with the rest of the family following suit when they realized how happy and how much Siebrecht was achieving.

“I used to watch my dad work on cars and trucks as a hobby. It was fascinating and I knew that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up,” he said. “And without the support from my grandfather and family, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

In fact, Siebrecht loves mechanics so much he took a part-time job while in high school at a local mechanic shop, the same place his family would take their car when it needed repairs.

“This was a great experience for me as a high school student. It laid out my foundation in the industry,” he said. “And attending TSTC just took it to another level for me.”

The 21-year-old was among the program’s first cohort to graduate in 2017. And with honors, a certificate in Diesel Equipment Technology, a 3.7 grade-point average and a job offer in hand, Siebrecht was ready to face the world.

“TSTC was a great place of learning for me. All of the hands-on training and knowledgeable faculty made my experience there worth my while,” said Siebrecht. “My classmates and I learned so much and the student life was great. Everyone was so nice and welcoming.”

 Siebrecht credits TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology Instructor Spencer Paige for much of his success because of his knowledge, patience and experience.

“Spencer was great. With his teaching, training and letter of recommendation, I got a job before I even graduated. Not many people can say that about their college,” he said.

Siebrecht started his career at Hlavinka Equipment Company in Rosenberg as a diesel technician and has now been there for a year and half.

“I work on off-road equipment and tractors, have a steady paycheck and benefits,” he said. “What more could a guy ask for?”

Hlavinka Equipment Service Manager Chris Hallman said he knew from the moment he met Siebrecht that he was a great hire.

“I could tell that this was a young man who wanted this position and who actually had a passion to work in this industry. This is what set him apart from other candidates,” said Hallman. “And of course knowing that he received his training at TSTC was an added plus.”

Hallman added, “He is a solid worker, not afraid to get his hands dirty and get the job done and has a concern for safety. He is definitely a great asset to our company.”

Siebrecht said he will be visiting TSTC again soon because he plans on beginning the path toward an associate degree in Spring 2019 because he has bigger dreams he is working toward.

“I hope to someday own a diesel shop and work on diesel truck performance and heavy equipment,” said Siebrecht. “I’m a turn-the-wrench type of guy and I have to continue my education and getting experience to make this happen.”

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

For more information Diesel Equipment Technology, visit    

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Pictured left to right are SGA officers and Cyber Security Technology students Parker Sorrels and Scott Easter delivering the school supply donations to Lunches of Love in Rosenberg.

(FORT BEND) - With the new school year upon us, the Student Government Association (SGA) at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County wanted to help students and their families that struggle to purchase school supplies for the year.

All thanks to the organization’s hard work and help from college students and employees, TSTC was able to donate a boxload of supplies to Lunches of Love in Rosenberg.

Lunches of Love is a non-profit organization that is committed to helping end childhood hunger in Fort Bend County by providing free nutritious sack lunches during extended holidays and weekends. They provide at least 3,500 lunches a day.

“Many of our families don’t have the means to purchase food to eat on a regular basis – much less school supplies,” said Adriane Gray, Lunch of Love creator and director. “These supplies will help our kiddos have confidence and hold their head high when walking into school with the tools needed to have a great year.”

Grey added that the school supplies are a true blessing for her Lunches of Love kids and that she is very thankful to TSTC for the donation.

To make this donation possible, SGA President Rogelio Garcia, Vice President Parker Sorrel and Treasurer Scott Easter, recently hosted a Gaming Tournament with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward the purchase of school supplies.

“Not only was this a great way for our students to relax and have fun before final exams, but it allowed everyone on campus to get involved and give back,” said Garcia.

Also, between June and August, collection boxes were set up throughout campus with students, faculty, staff and administration making donations.

“We wanted to do something meaningful that would benefit our community,” said Garcia. “We hope that this will alleviate the stress of back-to-school shopping and that it’s a boost for students to help them succeed. They are our future after all.”

TSTC Director of Admissions and SGA Advisor Georgeann Calzada said she is proud of the SGA officers for coordinating donation drives and the event to collect monetary donations and supplies such as notebooks, paper, pens and pencils, folders and colors.

“Our local communities are very important to us so we try to give back in any way we can,” she said. “At the start of a new school year we see how students struggle  to get the bare necessities so we wanted to extend our donations to our local community.”

Calzada added that civic engagement is an important lesson to teach students during this transitional phase into their careers.

“The communities they’ll be working and living in need them to be involved. It builds good character and I hope that they feel the sense of joy I feel when I see them giving back to the community that gives us so much on a daily basis.”

For information on SGA or the programs offered at TSTC in Fort Bend County, visit

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(FORT BEND) - They say it takes a village. For Darryl Jackson, or DJ, as most people know him, that could not be more true.

Thursday night was life changing because the 22-year-old graduated with his certificate in Electrical Lineworker Technology from Texas State Technical College - a feat that not long ago seemed impossible for this young homeless man.

"I never dreamt that I would, or could be a college graduate," said Jackson. "Statistics show I should be in prison or dead."

But Jackson is not a statistic. Instead, he is defying all odds.

The Houston native was taken away from his mother because of her drug addiction and his father was never in the picture.

Jackson grew up in the foster care system and suffered some abuse. At 18, he aged out, like many teens in the system do.

He found himself out in the streets with no place to live, no food to eat and no money for even his most basic needs.

"My entire life has been discouraging, frightening and sad," said Jackson. "I was a very angry child and teen. I didn't understand why I was suffering."

Jackson spent one year at a homeless shelter. Then went from couch-to-couch, living with different friends.

Then, finally a break. One of his friends invited him to visit TSTC for registration.

"I had no intention of registering for classes. I was only along for the ride," said Jackson. "But as soon as I stepped foot on campus everything changed."

That was the day that changed Jackson's life forever. And although he said he had no idea what a lineworker was or did, he signed up for the program anyways. He figured he had nothing to lose.

"What was I thinking, I'm afraid of heights," Jackson said he thought on the first day of class. "I didn't know what I had gotten myself into, but I knew I had to do something. I didn't want to be homeless forever."

Enter Troy Eads, TSTC's Electrical Lineworker Technology instructor. Jackson credits Eads for much of what he has been able to achieve.

As a young homeless man, school was not a priority, survival was. And although Jackson received financial aid and scholarships such as TSTC's Texan Success Scholarship, it was only enough for tuition and books.

He was still homeless and without enough to eat.

"DJ was so close to quitting several times, and it hurt me as his instructor because I knew about his life and I wanted so much to see him succeed," said Eads. "He would sleep in the trucks at the college's diesel lab and he was always hungry and tired, so I took him into my home."

Jackson would stay with Eads occasionally, but help also came from Carolyn Arnim from Friendship Church in Richmond, who learned about the lineworker student and his situation during one of her clothing drop-offs for TSTC's Clothing Closet. Arnim got her whole congregation to help.

"As a church in the community we felt compelled to help Darryl. What was happening could not happen on our watch," said Arnim. "I can't even put into words what a big deal his graduation is. We're so proud of him and I truly feel that we needed Darryl more than he needed us. His testimony has resonated with so many in our community."

The congregation from Friendship Church took Jackson in as one of their own, helping him with spiritual guidance, clothes, food and a place to stay.

Between TSTC and the church sharing the cost, Jackson has been able to stay at a local motel for the past couple of semesters, and Eads picks up Jackson for class and drops him off at his room every day to ensure he has transportation.

"Without Troy, TSTC or the church, I would have quit a long time ago. There is no way I could have graduated without these selfless people. They are special to me," said Jackson. "Everything everyone has done has changed my life."

On August 27, Jackson will begin his career at CenterPoint Energy in Houston with a starting pay of $30 an hour.

"I'm ready to get to work and start building my future," said Jackson. "I have a chance at a completely different life and I'm excited."

Jackson said with his new career he is looking forward to saving for an apartment and car, and helping his sisters who are also struggling.

His long-term goals are to own a business and help others.

"I need to build myself up so I can build others, he said. "I want to be to others in my situation what everyone here at TSTC and Friendship Church have been to me, they have become the family I never had."

Jackson celebrated his life-changing milestone with Eads, Arnim, Friendship Church Pastor Jason Frazier, his tenth grade teacher Sierra King and their families, all of which he credits for his success.