(WACO, Texas) – Chadwick Cole of Lorena took his mother’s advice to heart when he was a teenager growing up in Bryan.
“My mother told me to never stop learning,” he said.
After graduating from high school, Cole pursued psychology at a two-year college but did not find the classes enjoyable. He needed a change, and found it at Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus. He graduated in 2001 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Environmental Health and Safety.
“I’m proud to say I graduated from TSTC,” he said. “I felt like I got my money’s worth.”
Cole said TSTC gave him the confidence he needed to enter the workforce.
“Chad was success-oriented from day one, and we all knew he was destined for greatness,” said Martin Knudsen, an instructor in TSTC’s Occupational Safety Compliance Technology program.
Cole went to work as a project manager at ESESIS Environmental Partners less than a week after graduating from TSTC. The company was founded in 1988 in Waco by Charles Thorn, who decided in 2010 to sell the company to his employees. Cole and two co-workers bought the company and several years later relocated it to Elm Mott.
Cole does not sit in an office all day. He travels throughout Texas doing Phase 1 environmental site assessments, along with asbestos, lead and mold inspections, on commercial buildings and homes. The company recently added COVID-19 surface testing because of demand.
“I own the company because I know to be a success, it is in my hands,” Cole said. “I know I will not be laid off. I want to be in control of my destiny.”
Cole said there is a need for people to work in lead inspecting, as well as asbestos and mold consulting. He said the jobs are great ways to work with regulations and use problem-solving skills.
“If you want to help people with environmental challenges and issues, this is the career to go into,” he said.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas had more than 3,000 environmental science and protection technicians earning an annual mean wage of $48,400 in 2019.
Jobs for these technicians are projected to rise to more than 37,000 through 2029 in the United States, according to the federal agency.
“In today’s industrial world, there is and always will be a need for individuals that possess the knowledge and skills we offer in the environmental program,” said Lester Bowers, TSTC’s statewide chair of the Environmental Technology department. “The skills and education our students receive here offer them numerous opportunities in industry such as program management, consulting, training and regulatory positions.”
Cole graduated in 1996 from Bryan High School.
“We heard about TSTC, and my grandmother and mother brought us (he and his fraternal twin brother, Christopher) to campus, and we toured several programs,” Cole said.
Cole said the Safety Training Presentation Techniques class is one he will always remember. The morning of his presentation to the class, Cole hurt his hand as he was going down icy steps at his on-campus apartment.
“That class set me up for success because I wasn’t used to talking to a lot of people (at one time),” Cole said.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.