TSTC student Blake Edwards (right) joined the Automation and Controls Technology program to find a career that will better provide for his daughter, Ema (left). (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Gladewater resident and single father Blake Edwards had a special request for senior enrollment coach Jason Beach when applying to attend Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus.

“What I asked Jason for was the hardest program with the biggest potential,” Edwards said. “I was just looking for something to get me in the door to talk to these hiring managers and try and convince them I could be something.”

Recalling his desire to be like the technicians he saw when working odd jobs, Edwards joined the Automation and Controls Technology program.

Even before enrolling at TSTC, Edwards had never believed in doing things the easy way. In 2015, a car accident left him with a traumatic brain injury and seven metal plates in his face. However, he exceeded his doctors’ expectations by continuing to thrive in school.

Edwards has applied the same level of effort to his TSTC education. In his first semester alone, he accepted an internship with Texas Instruments

According to TSTC Automation and Controls instructors Douglas Clark and Troy Powledge, Edwards has held multiple short-term internships in his time at TSTC.

“Blake gained a lot of real-world experience in different arenas,” Clark said. “His tenacity is amazing.”

Edwards now balances his time between earning his Associate of Applied Science degree, working an internship with packaging company Smurfit Kappa, and raising his daughter, Ema. He plans to graduate in spring 2024 and further his education at the University of Texas at Tyler while working part time for Smurfit Kappa in Forney.

“It’s been difficult, of course — I didn’t pick an easy path for myself, but I knew I would have to work to make something of myself, and that’s what’s happening,” Edwards said. 

Richard Akin, an automation superintendent for Smurfit Kappa, says Edwards’ time with the company has produced impressive results.

“Blake has contributed to our daily operations here at Smurfit Kappa and was able to apply the technical skills he’s learned at TSTC into developing an HMI (human-machine interface) to assist operations with our processes,” Akin said. “Blake’s efforts will certainly prove to be beneficial in the months to come.”

Edwards says he refuses to miss out on a lucrative career or raising his daughter. He hopes she and his fellow TSTC students can learn from his story.

“Try as hard as you can, and be confident in your worth,” Edwards said. “If you apply yourself, you can really go places.”

For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.

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