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(ABILENE, Texas) – To say that Rachel Lowe is busy does not begin to describe her daily schedule.

In between attending Eula High School, caring for show goats, preparing for National FFA Organization and agriculture science mechanical competitions, and operating her own welding business, Lowe is a dual credit student in Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Systems program.

“It does get hard some days,” the high school senior said. “I have to balance a lot of things to make sure I am ready for what comes next.”

While spending a couple of days a week in the TSTC lab, Lowe knows that when she leaves it will be time to care for goats in preparation for weekend stock shows. She said Terry Steelman, her TSTC Industrial Systems instructor, understands her hectic schedule.

“Terry has grandchildren who show animals, so he knows what I go through each day,” she said. “It is good for me that he helps me in school and lets me get my other responsibilities in order as well.”

Steelman said Lowe’s work ethic shows in the TSTC lab, especially during the welding curriculum.

“She demonstrates the role of a leader because she is confident in what she does,” he said. “She is not afraid to jump in on any project. With her own business and the stock show routines, Rachel is dedicated to getting the job done.”

Lowe, who admits that she enjoys the mechanical field, said she first thought of beginning the dual credit program after hearing from Shelby Bennett, a TSTC dual credit recruiting representative.

“Shelby started talking about this program, and I thought it sounded great,” she said. “I have asked her several questions since I started. Shelby wants the dual credit students to be successful.”

Bennett said Lowe has grown as a person since becoming a dual credit student.

“Watching Rachel in our lab shows the importance of the dual credit opportunities we offer,” she said. “I cannot wait to see what she does in her career because I know she will be a success.”

Lowe talks to the TSTC instructors not only about class projects, but also about her welding business. She recently told them about one welding project that she sold for $5,000.

“I became a certified welder so I could do more and make some money to help fund my other projects,” she said.

Her career plans may be narrowed down to a couple of local companies, but that will have to wait. After graduating from high school in May, she plans to enroll full time in TSTC’s Industrial Systems program to earn an associate degree. 

Lowe hopes that more high school students take advantage of the dual credit opportunities at TSTC, especially Industrial Systems.

“I think more people will be interested in the program. Once you start talking about it, it is cool to learn what you can do,” she said. “You are going to learn a lot of different aspects of the maintenance world.”

The need for industrial machinery mechanics will increase over the next few years. According to, such positions were expected to grow by 35% in Texas between 2020 and 2030. The average salary for an industrial machinery mechanic in Texas is $58,360, according to the website.

In the Industrial Systems program at its Abilene campus, TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems – Mechanical Specialization and several certificates of completion.

The program is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee, which refunds a participating graduate’s tuition if he or she has not found a job in their field within six months of graduation. For more information, visit

For more information about TSTC, visit

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