(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s faculty and staff pride themselves on helping military veterans transition to the civilian workforce.
Annette Collins, TSTC’s Veteran Services program officer in Abilene, strives to make sure that veterans have everything they need to begin their college journey. She knows about the paperwork that veterans face while enrolling in college because she is a U.S. Air Force veteran.
“I want to make sure our veterans have the best college experience possible,” she said. “I will work with them from start to finish so they will be able to have a successful career.”
At TSTC, veterans have many programs from which to choose that can help them expand their knowledge of what they were tasked to do in the military.
Larry Brickner, a 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran, learned a variety of skills as a hydraulic technician. He said Industrial Systems was the first program he was interested in at TSTC.
“The program teaches you a wide variety of skills,” he said. “Some of the things I have learned I did in the military. I have also noticed that I have learned how to help train people who are not getting something we are covering in class.”
Scott Bunch, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, said his decision to return to school was easier because of his military background. He was a machine gunner, which he knew would not be something he could do after he retired from the military.
He enrolled in Industrial Systems because of the many job options he will have following graduation.
“I want to be a moneymaker for my family and have the skills to do that,” he said. “Industrial Systems teaches you multiple skills that you can expand on during school and when you are working.”
Juan Uribe, a U.S. Army veteran, worked in logistics in the military and is now studying Electrical Power and Controls.
“It was an adjustment for me at first,” he said of going to college. “I wanted to do something that was not as physical. Knowing I always enjoyed electrical work, it was the right decision for me to begin my career in the electrical field.”
Zachary West, a U.S. Navy veteran in the Welding Technology program, was medically discharged after more than 12 years. He knew he would have to find a new career and turned to an old hobby.
“Welding was something I enjoyed as a hobby, and I knew that my GI Bill would cover school,” he said. “I thought, ‘Why not make my hobby a career?’”
The four veterans credit Collins for helping them transition to college life.
“Annette cares about us and makes sure we have everything we need,” Brickner said. “She came on the first day of class just to make sure I was comfortable.”
Bunch said Collins’ work to enroll him helped build his confidence.
“She pushed me in the direction that I needed to go,” he said. “I did not know the college lingo, so she was right there from my first visit to the time I started class.”
Uribe also noticed that the transition was smoother with Collins’ assistance.
“She made my experience in college go 100 times easier,” he said. “She cares a lot for the veterans in school.”
West said Collins was there to help him with each step of the application process and more.
“Annette stepped up and helped me. She made sure all of my information was correct before guiding me through the next phase,” he said. “Since then, she has gone above and beyond to make sure I have everything I need in order to complete my classes.”
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.