How Others Turned Their Passions into Success
Western Technical College isn’t just about learning, it’s about finding a way to turn your passion into career success. To help prepare you for your chosen career, we invite employers from around the region and around the country to recruit on campus, sit on our Program Advisory Committees, participate in mock interviews, and offer internships. Massage Envy in El Paso claims that the majority of their staff are Western Technical College graduates.
Graduate Success Story - Chance Black
Life Obstacles Overcome Through Education & Perseverance
Chance Black is a very hard working person and although his life has not been easy, nothing has stopped him from fulfilling his dreams. Before deciding to go to Western Tech and becoming a success, he was working in a job that was very low in pay. His wife was also working in a part-time job, but they were behind several car payments and had no place to live. “We stopped paying all of our credit cards. We had just enough money to put food on the table and gas in the car so that we could eat and I could go to college,” said Chance. Sometimes there wasn’t gas money, but for Chance, persistence paid off. He recalls that at one point he knew he didn’t have enough money for gas, and he drove his car all the way up Transmountain so that he could coast the car downhill to be able to get to school. “These are the sacrifices we make,” says Chance.
He and his wife lived with his aunt for a year and with his father for another year after that. While at Western Tech he was attending the Electronic Engineering Program. Before graduating in May 2010 he was offered an interview with Halliburton. Halliburton offered him a job in Odessa, Texas as a field technician. As an entry level technician, he immediately started with a $60,000.00 salary and after a year received an increase into $100,000.00. After 4 years of working very hard and every day learning more and more about the field, he was given a promotion as Field Lead Supervisor in Denver, Colorado.
In Denver, Chance supervises 4 or 5 different crews and is responsible for every field technician in those crews. Last month he hit his 5-year anniversary and received an award. After all these accomplishments he was able to finally purchase a home. “I never thought in a million years that I would own a home,” says Chance. “Trust me, I don’t forget where I came from.” Chance keeps working hard every day and continues to learn about his industry, so he can keep bettering his life.
HVAC Graduate Success Story in El Paso
Willie Alvarez is a climber. He is meteorically scaling the ladder of success in his relatively new career field. It has been an upwardly mobile journey that began with a single key step. Alvarez enrolled in and graduated from the HVAC Technician Training Program at Western Technical College in El Paso.
Currently employed by the El Paso-based hospitality development, management and design firm Esperanto Developments, Alvarez earned entry-level employment upon graduation at a hospital at which he previously served as an intern. And he has never looked back.
“I went to Western Tech, and finished my 18 months of school,” Alvarez said, adding that the college’s placement staff assisted him in his post-graduation job search. “My first job was actually a hospital, Southwestern General Hospital. That’s where I started as a technician. I did an internship with the same company, Southwestern General Hospital, and that’s when they started looking to me, the way I used to work.”
Alvarez said he worked for a jeans company that would wind up relocating to Mexico. “They provided me with options for re-training at a college, so that’s when I decided to go to Western Tech for HVAC,” he said.
The ascent can happen fast in the HVAC field. Alvarez was a hospital HVAC technician for only six months. He went from technician to department lead and from department lead to supervisor. After only a year, he was an HVAC manager at the hospital. Today, the WTC graduate is a regional chief engineer.
Alvarez said WTC’s class schedule made possible his successful career transition.
“I have a family,” Alvarez said. “I could still go to school and work. That’s what got me to go to Western Tech. I would recommend no other colleges. I know the flexibility that Western Tech has. You have classes at night. You have classes in the morning. For people like me, who have families and they really need to work, I think this is a good college.”
Alvarez likens his career to living a dream.
“HVAC has brought me to where I am, right now,” Alvarez said. “It was my dream to become somebody big, and here I am.”
Graduate Success: Wilfredo Andino Jr.
Wilfredo Andino Jr. says that he has learned to appreciate the most challenging & difficult moments experienced in the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program because Western Tech has helped him to accomplish his goals and realize that he has the potential to achieve greater feats. Andino, the perfect picture of success, completed the PTA program at Western Tech and is now a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant (LPTA) He says, “Western Tech helped prepare me to work in a variety of settings...they helped me to become a stronger student and a strong professional.”
Andino, who has formed lifelong relationships during his PTA study says, “My experience with Western Tech is an ongoing one. I still find myself interacting with former classmates, staff members, and instructors.”
A “variety of work settings” is truly an understatement for Andino, who is now helping patients recover from major accidents, medical illnesses, and different types of surgeries. He says, “I perform gait training which includes teaching patients how to use assistive devices such as crutches, canes, & walkers, both surgical and traumatic wound care, therapeutic exercises (which include Neuromuscular Re-education, balance + strength training), stair training ,and more.”
As a LPTA, Andino is responsible for assisting patients who suffer from work related injuries recover & prepare them for their return to work. “I perform therapeutic modalities such as ultrasound & electrical stimulation, manual therapy such as soft tissue & joint mobilization, traction, and therapeutic exercises,” he says.
Andino has a busy work schedule as a contractor, but that’s because he is knowledgeable. He alternates his time between various therapy settings which include but are not limited to aquatic therapy & home health. Upon meeting and speaking with Andino, it is evident that he truly cares for the patients and his work; his professional goal is to provide quality care and help patients on the path to rehabilitation. He says, “For many years I worked as a Rehab Technician where I received insight into the field of Physical Therapy. I was inspired by the impact that physical therapy has in people's lives & by the variety of options that this career path offers.”
Graduate Success: Fidel Gonzalez
Western Technical College is honored to share the success story of Diesel Technology graduate, Fidel Gonzalez. Gonzalez completed the diesel program at Western Tech, in January of 2011, and he went on to open his own business, Roadrunner Diesel and Transportation, the same year in September. He describes his business, its services, and their motto: "It is a diesel and automotive based service. We handle all service from tires to repairs on everything from cars to tractors. We also do road side service calls 24 hours a day and will even come to you and bring you and your vehicle back to the shop. We are fair priced, too, because we are not looking to get rich off one job here. Our company motto is 'Let me and my crew take care of you.'"
Gonzalez has even hired another Western Tech graduate to work for him, and he explains why: "I know it was tough to make it through the program at Western Tech because of the challenging courses, and if you do, then you know something about this industry." The graduate that Gonzalez is referring to is Andres Curier, and of him Gonzalez says, "We were in class together and he was very hands-on; you could tell him go take off this transmission, and he would do it without coming back to ask questions- he knew what he was doing." It reflects positively on the College that graduate and business owner Gonzalez would want to hire other graduates, because he knows that they are coming from the college with the same knowledge and hands-on experience.
In reference to his experience Gonzalez says, "Well, it was fun and exciting and a great experience. It was great learning how to take things apart put them back together and know what each part is for and what it does. It is exciting to know what each part does in the truck. My favorite phase and Instructor was the electrical phase with Mr. Acevedo; he was a really good teacher. He broke it down for us and took the extra time to go through each process until he was sure we understood it. He made sure we knew what we were doing before we left his class."
He adds that in addition to required curriculum he also "learned how to present myself in a professional manner in general from the whole college; we had to dress a certain way and be professional in everything we did. I use to be late, but Western Tech made me understand what it was to be professional and how to succeed." He continues, "My favorite thing about Western Tech was the discipline they gave us and how the teachers were willing sit down with us and go through things step by step. Mr. Acevedo would look at our faces to know whether we did or did not understand the concept at hand and go through it until we did." He concludes, "An important aspect of Western Tech is the hands-on work in addition the book learning. We learn to understand the whole system before getting to the hands-on, which is perfect for us because we can look at schematics and understand what we are working on while we are doing the job."
Western Tech Graduate Gets State of Texas Recognition
Western Technical College (WTC) can proudly claim the Student of the Year for the State of Texas as named by the Career Colleges and Schools of Texas (CCST) for 2010. Adam Arce graduated from the Electronics Engineering Technology Program in June of 2009, and he is currently working for the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Helen Garcia, Career Services Director, took notice of Arce’s work ethic and spirit to persevere despite obstacles while he was in school, and she nominated him for the award.
Arce says, “My experiences at college were difficult and at some times stressful, but throughout my time I thought of the benefits that would come out of it all.” He adds, “I want to thank my mom and dad, teachers, and even everyone who said I couldn’t do it. In truth, I really have to say, I did it all for my son. I knew he would benefit from my success.”
Adam Arce is the picture of perseverance working through a divorce to finish school and achieve his goals. In October 2010, CCST held an awards ceremony in Galveston, TX at which Arce was honored. Arce says of the ceremony, “I felt so good being the only one to receive an award for my personal success rather than others that got 'company awards'.”
Arce is the best illustration of what dedication in school can yield; he is honored for his dedication to education and continues to succeed given his personal philosophy. “You can never know too much of anything.” He advises current and future students to “choose your career wisely and go for it! My thoughts were always every time I learned a new thing I would apply it to anything I could. Learn everything they put in front of you. You might think it’s not going to be used!? It is all used. Use your knowledge and push people (figuratively) to get experience. Don’t let anyone say you can’t do it. Do your best at anything you do! I apply my best at anything I touch. DON'T QUIT! Keep your head up high. The light at the end of the tunnel just gets brighter and success awaits you!”
Diesel Technology Grad Wins Award of Distinction
Nina Gaston, a Diesel Technology Graduate of Western Technical College will be announced as the 3rd Annual Career Colleges and Schools for Texas Awards of Distinction winner at the Annual Conference, “Together We Can...” at the Westin Galleria Dallas, October 10-12, 2012. Gaston was nominated by Helen Garcia, Career Services Director at Western Technical College. Garcia says, “It’s a personal honor and certainly a feather in the college’s cap. I work very hard with students, and so do members of my team, and I am so very proud of Nina and all of the other graduates that have proven time and time again that they matter and they can make a difference.”
“CCST is the state association for private, post secondary that prepare people for today’s jobs and great careers. There are approximately 200 colleges and school s in the state offering a wide range of occupational curriculum. These colleges and schools enable more students to reach their career goals, provide employers with a large pool of skilled workers, and ultimately expand the state’s tax base by attracting and expanding business in Texas,” according to the CCST website http://www.ccst.org
Gaston, who is now the Aftermarket Account Representative for Stewart & Stevenson Power Products, graduated from Western Technical College in 2004 with an Associate Degree of Occupational Studies Degree in Automotive Technology. After completing the program at Western Technical College, Gaston went on to become an instructor and externship coordinator for the Diesel Program. She says of winning the award, “This award is an acknowledgment that hard work and perseverance do get recognized. We go through life trying to do what we can to achieve personal success and provide for our families, this award shows us that I am probably going in the right direction… Western tech has been a part of my personal and professional life since I first started there as an automotive student in 2003. The knowledge I received at WTC is what has allowed me to be taken seriously as a technician, not just a girl trying to do a man’s job.”
Internship to Ultimate Driving Machines
As part of the Automotive Fundamentals and Performance Tuner program at Western Technical College, Wytfar Harrigan landed an internship with BMW. “When he got here, the way he carried himself sold me on his future here with us,” says Willie Estrada, BMW Service Manager. “He knew that needed to keep learning, and he was willing to do that.”
Wytfar is currently a Technician in Training at BMW. “He started as an apprentice and he jumped in with both feet,” explains Mr. Estrada. “He has done very well.” In BMW’s structure, technicians start as apprentices before moving to Technician in Training. From there, they move to Level 4 Technician and up to Level 3 and beyond. Wytfar says his goal is to learn as much as possible and move all the way up to Level 1. Being at BMW is a coveted position, and Wytfar knows it. Today he has a future working with the Ultimate Driving Machines.
From Grad to General Manager
In 1999, Jeff Booth was a new graduate of the Microcomputer Technology Program at Western Technical College. Today he is the General Manager for Glacier Technical Solutions in El Paso, where he is responsible for all business activity of the office. “Western Technical provided a solid foundation, through the training and certifications, to excel in a very competitive environment,” he says. “The training and tools, along with hard work, provided opportunities.” Now Jeff hires Western Technical College graduates. “It provides somewhat of a relief, knowing the candidates possess a certain level of proficiency within their discipline.”
Career Traction with Transmissions | Service Manager Rene Talamantes through Internship
Ricardo (Rick) Rodriguez took full advantage of his internship at South Plains Implements, during his Diesel Technology program at Western Technical College. As Service Manager Rene Talamantes says, “During his internship, we knew we wanted to hire him by the third day. We didn’t have an opening to hire him, but we created a position so we could.”
“Western Tech prepared me for the workforce through hands-on training and all the operational theory,” says Rick. He claims that the interview practice also made him more confident. “They showed me how to express myself and explain what I know with confidence.” Today Rick is responsible for diagnosing and repairing electrical, hydraulic, and transmission issues on tractors. “Transmissions are my favorite things to work on because they are challenging, and in this industry there is always a different and new model to work on.”
“After three months on the job my boss told me I am the best investment they’ve made in the U.S.,” says Jonathan Wilder, a 2007 graduate of Western Technical College’s Electronic Engineering Technology program. “I told him he could thank Western Tech for that.” Jonathan works today for On Site Safety, Inc., where he repairs, maintains, and diagnoses all of the electronic equipment for his company and its customers. On Site Safety provides fire safety and protection for companies that are drilling for oil.
“Western Technical College provided me with the resources and background to work in the electronics field. The hands-on approach at Western Tech is awesome; they actually show you how to apply the information learned from books.” In addition to his regular job, Jonathan now recruits and trains new employees for On Site Safety. “I’ve been to other universities, and they don’t have the same hands-on work,” he says. As a note to prospective employees, he offers this advice: “Get your certifications; I was lucky because Western Tech provided me with the budget and the knowledge to earn mine, but they are necessary with employers that are looking to hire you.”
Building on Western Technical College Grads
“If I wasn’t confident in Western Technical College and their graduates, I wouldn’t be opening a third location,” says Massage Envy owner Rod Reyes. “Western Tech is the first place we look when we are hiring because the massage program is 900 hours, and we know these students are coming to us with both knowledge and experience.”
“At least 60 percent of our staff is comprised of Western Tech graduates,” adds Clinic Administrator Amanda Escamilla. Western Technical College graduates work at the two clinics that Rod and Jodi Reyes own in El Paso (each Massage Envy location is locally owned, but as part of a national company). The new clinic is planned for Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Family Ties | Graduate Brother in Electronics Glacier Technologies
Three Green brothers have graduated from Western Technical College with degrees in Electronics Engineering Technology. As the youngest, Kyle Green says, “My brothers’ success persuaded me to attend classes at Western Technical College. The hands-on activities and classroom training put me in a position to be successful.” Kyle is now an Electronic Technician at Glacier Technologies.
His middle brother, Tarryl, says, “Western Technical College provided all the proper training for my current position. Without the training I received at WTC I definitely would not be where I am today. They provided me with the training and experience I needed to find my career in the electronics field.” Tarryl is also enjoying a career as an Electronics Technician at Glacier Technologies.
Eldest brother, Dahn, who is a Senior Site Lead/Manager at Fort Bliss, adds, “Western Technical College did prepare me for the challenges in the electronics field, but most importantly, it helped me build a confidence level within myself which helped motivate me to succeed under any condition. Academically, WTC provided me with a challenging, firm, and well balanced scholastic structure focused around the field of electronics.”