(BRECKENRIDGE, Texas) – Three participants in Texas State Technical College’s recent high school welding competition liked what they saw and decided to continue their education at TSTC.
Pablo Camacho, Christian Chapla and Manuel Soto were among the 16 high school students who welded a cube for TSTC Welding Technology instructor Stephen Hope in the hopes of earning a scholarship. Camacho was the top finisher in the contest and earned a $1,000 scholarship. Chapla and Soto also received scholarship funds to enroll at TSTC.
Now that they have graduated from high school, all three students have started working toward certificates of completion in TSTC’s Welding Technology program in Breckenridge.
Camacho, of Seymour, said it was not until after the contest that he decided to enroll.
“I talked to Stephen after the event, and he was very helpful with my questions,” he said. “Also, having a scholarship opportunity to further my education was a great incentive. I could not wait to get started learning more about welding with Stephen.”
Camacho has been welding for two years and plans to continue after receiving his certificate. He said having access to a variety of equipment for lab sessions will help him in the future.
“We have different machines here in the lab that are good for learning,” he said. “When I came for the competition, I loved that it was such a big space, and people were always helpful. We also have the torch room to complete projects, which is an added bonus.”
Chapla, of New Castle, is a first-generation welder and appreciates the time he spends in the lab.
“Stephen will always be there to help you when you have problems,” he said. “He is not only teaching you the trade; he is teaching you how to do it the best way possible.”
Soto, also of New Castle, has been welding most of his teenage years and is excited to begin attending TSTC to learn more about the technology.
“We were treated with respect during the competition, and that carried over to when we started class this summer,” he said. “Welding in the shop has been great. Having the experience from the contest is allowing me to better myself.”
The three students hope that more high school students participate in the contest.
“I hope to see more of my friends show up for the contest. It is a great opportunity to show your skills while visiting a great facility,” Soto said.
Hope said having the three students enrolled this summer will help draw more students to the 2021-22 school year contest. In addition, six Breckenridge High School students competed and are part of the college’s dual enrollment welding program.
“Having the contest and students enroll was awesome,” Hope said. “We are already working on plans for the next contest and hope to see more students compete. Having the contest on our campus will only help the program grow.”
Registration for the fall semester is underway. Scholarships are available. For more information, visit tstc.edu.