two men standing next to a pickup truck

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – “It was a blessing.”

That is how Jackie Norman, a Texas State Technical College Metallica Scholar and Automotive Technology student, described his feelings after several people stepped up to offer financial assistance.

Earlier this year, the engine on Norman’s pickup truck blew out, and he thought it would be a quick and easy fix. After assessing the damage, however, Norman learned that he would need an entirely new engine.

“I am a firm believer in Jesus Christ and that he puts people in your way to bless you and help you out,” he said. “That is exactly what happened with the great people here at TSTC.”

Norman first received funds from the college’s Advocacy and Resource Center (ARC). After some TSTC staff members made phone calls, additional funds were secured through The TSTC Foundation to help the California native with expenses for a new engine.

“Being able to help Jackie is what we strive to do,” said Kati Bewley, ARC coordinator for TSTC’s West Texas locations. “It was a team effort to help him with the financial assistance.”

Brandon Scott Thomas, senior field development officer for The TSTC Foundation, agreed.

“The TSTC Foundation works closely with the Advocacy and Resource Center to remove financial barriers for our students during critical times,” he said. “We are so grateful to our donors who are called to give emergency aid. This resource for our students can often be the difference in whether or not they continue studying during any given semester.”

Brittany Wilson, program team lead for Automotive Technology, said helping Norman shows the character of TSTC employees.

“The culture of caring for our students was shown when we reached out to each person with Jackie’s story,” she said. “People offered to guide us through the process to make sure we could help a student in need.”

William Parker, an Automotive Technology instructor, said Norman’s positive attitude factored into getting him additional aid.

“When you have a great student, you are going to do everything possible to help them,” Parker said. “Jackie is a student who will continue to make a difference once he earns his certificate of completion.”

Norman spends his time in the Automotive Technology lab working on his own vehicle, with Parker’s help.

“William helped me step by step on how to take the old engine out,” Norman said. “He is very knowledgeable about vehicles.”

Norman, who is a certified I-CAR (Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair) specialist, decided to add to his resume by studying to become a master mechanic. Thanks to the Metallica Scholars Initiative (MSI), Norman did not have to worry about finding the tools for his trade. He was loaned a complete set that TSTC purchased through the MSI grant. He also received a $1,000 scholarship as a Metallica Scholar.

“I am an old-school person and find the music of the 1980s, including Metallica, relaxing,” he said. “Listening to that music brings back childhood memories.”

MSI was launched in 2019 by All Within My Hands in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges. MSI supports 42 community colleges across 33 states. By the end of this year, the foundation expects to have helped more than 6,000 students pursue careers in the trades.

Norman is giving back to TSTC in a small way by competing in the 2024 SkillsUSA Texas Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference later this month in Houston.

“I want to see where my skills are at,” he said of his entry in the Collision Repair Technology contest. “I also want to see what is out there with people working on cars. I hope to start a trend with more Automotive Technology students entering the event. This is an opportunity of a lifetime.”

The state leadership and skills conference is scheduled for April 18-20. SkillsUSA is a professional organization focused on employability, leadership and technical skills that can help college students pursue successful careers and be part of a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA has more than 100 categories in which students can compete, from 3D Visualization and Animation to Welding Sculpture.

Gold medalists are eligible to compete at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference to be held June 24-28 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Summer and fall registration for current TSTC students has begun. For new students, registration begins on April 8. For more information, visit

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Jackie Norman, a TSTC Automotive Technology student, looks through his Metallica Scholars Initiative toolbox during a recent lab session.
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ackie Norman, a TSTC Automotive Technology student, is part of the college’s first Metallica Scholars class.
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