(MARSHALL, Texas) – The instructors and staff at Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus are there because they believe in the school’s mission. In more personal cases, some of them want to offer students the same high-quality education that they were given at the college.
Terri Dreesen, a TSTC enrollment coach and winner of a 2023 Chancellor’s Cornerstone Award, was unsure for many years if a college education was the right path for her.
“I didn’t have the confidence in myself to go to college because I didn’t think I could do it,” she said. “I was always just a mediocre student (in high school). It took all of my time and energy that I had to study to make the grades that I did.”
Dreesen spent the majority of her career working for the Hallsville Independent School District before a friend told her that TSTC was hiring someone for data entry in September 2011.
“I think that was God saying that this was meant to be because I wasn’t nervous when I did my interview,” Dreesen said.
Working for TSTC gave Dreesen the courage to obtain her Associate of Applied Science degree in Professional Office Technology — now Business Management Technology — at TSTC in 2017. She even became a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges.
Dreesen plans to keep working at the Marshall campus until she retires, setting that bar around age 62.
TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology instructor Jimmy Kotowicz chose to delay his college education as well, opting instead to join the National Guard — and later the Navy — after he graduated from high school in 1987.
While Kotowicz found success in serving his country, it also came with a price. Serving in Desert Storm led to his suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, to the point of having three strokes throughout his life. When his son — a toddler at the time — did not recognize him after he had spent so much time in the military, Kotowicz knew it was time for a new path.
In 2011 Kotowicz graduated from TSTC with his Associate of Applied Science degree in Heavy Equipment Technology – now Diesel Equipment Technology. Though he found employment with several manufacturing companies and received treatment for his PTSD and strokes, he still was not satisfied.
“I needed a change in my life, and I had wanted to teach for almost 20 years,” Kotowicz said. “I was also an instructor in the Navy. That’s why I fell in love with teaching.”
Kotowicz achieved that dream in August 2023 when he became the newest Diesel Equipment Technology program instructor at the Marshall campus. He plans to continue teaching for as long as he can.
“(TSTC) is a new beginning,” Kotowicz said. “It’s a dream come true. It’s a whole new world, one that I can truly appreciate and enjoy now.”
Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.