Three women holding graduation caps

(ABILENE, Texas) – With the spotlight shining, Texas State Technical College honored more than 90 graduates from the four West Texas campuses during the Fall 2023 Commencement on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at the Abilene Convention Center.

Graduates who received Associate of Applied Science degrees or certificates of completion in various programs were congratulated by the administration and faculty. The students represented programs at the Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater campuses.

Earlier in the day, the college honored the Vocational Nursing graduates during a pinning ceremony. The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) students were honored during the inaugural challenge coin ceremony.

Andy Weaver, provost of the West Texas campuses, congratulated graduates during the commencement ceremony.

“Each of you chose TSTC for different reasons but had one goal: to get a great-paying job,” he said. “You now have the skills you need to be a productive member of the Texas workforce. As you move into the next chapter in your life, remember that you will always be part of the TSTC family.”

Several graduates said commencement marked a new beginning in their professional careers.

“Everyone that has helped me succeed is here tonight,” said Kristopher Smith, who received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electromechanical Technology. “This has been a good experience for me, and I am ready for the future.”

Mike Hill, who earned a certificate of completion in Industrial Systems, said being a single father helped motivate him to complete college.

“Being a single dad, I took my chance and did it,” he said. “I wanted to show my three children that you can do anything, no matter your age and when you put your mind to it.”

During the Vocational Nursing pinning ceremony, guest speaker Karen Hernandez, the health coordinator for Crockett Early Head Start in Abilene, congratulated the graduates. Each student received a nurse’s pin that they will wear in the workforce to signify their accomplishment at TSTC.

“I know life was difficult this past year, but these nurses are now strong, critical thinkers,” Hernandez said.

Students receiving nursing pins were Destiny Adams, Summer Benivamondez, Sarah Evans, Rylee Garner, Aleya Green, Melissa Guajardo, Lacey Hampton, Joshua Kvapil, Marla Mauzey, Sally Miller, Brooklin Myers, Jayme Riddle, Julia Silva and Amy Zavala.

The EMS program’s challenge coin ceremony honored students who are eligible to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam. Ashley Blackburn, the EMS program director in West Texas, said the challenge coin celebrates the students’ hard work and success.

Also during the ceremony, student Sam Jackson was presented with the Emergency Medical Services – EMT program award and student Mackenzie Brigman received the Paramedic program honor.

Paramedic students were Dustin Bostick, Mackenzie Brigman, Kyle Nichols and Angela Saenz. EMS – EMT students receiving coins were Piper Cotham, Brayden Dlugiewicz, Gabby Espinal, Ashlyn Hoerstman, Jessica Holland, Sam Jackson, Charity Jenkins, Melody Keighley, Hunter Mansker, Braden Parnell and Morgan Ramey-Pedroza.

Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is underway. For more information, visit


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Jenny Wingate (standing behind podium), a TSTC Vocational Nursing instructor, leads graduates in reciting the Nightingale Pledge during the college’s pinning ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 12.


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Dustin Bostick (left), a graduate of TSTC’s Paramedic program, and Tim Scalley, TSTC’s statewide content matter expert for the Emergency Medical Services program, look at the challenge coin presented to Bostick on Tuesday, Dec. 12.
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