(ABILENE, Texas) – Hannah Whitehead admits that she needed to slow down her life.
Balancing motherhood and working at T&B Mechanical in Baird, Whitehead decided to drop out of engineering school. She wanted to return to a program that offered more of a hands-on approach to learning.
Researching her options, Whitehead found Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Systems program and decided to enroll.
“I knew I would have to find something that would fit my work schedule and being a mother,” she said. “This has been the perfect program for me to continue my education.”
Whitehead appreciates the consideration of her instructors, Daniel Diaz and Terry Steelman.
“I am so thankful for the flexibility they have provided me,” she said. “My child has been sick so many times in the past few months that the instructors are willing to work not only with me, but any student who has an issue. I have never attended a school where so many people are eager to help you.”
Diaz said it is in his nature to help students facing a situation preventing them from attending class.
“I understand what Hannah goes through because I have kids,” he said. “Being able to work with students that are facing something at home is the best way we as instructors can help them.”
Whitehead, of Putnam, will graduate this spring with her Associate of Applied Science degree and is already weighing options to begin work on a bachelor’s degree.
“I have already been accepted into two engineering schools,” she said. “Once I complete my TSTC degree, I will have to make a decision.”
Until that time comes, Whitehead is ready for her final semester at TSTC. This semester will include working on boilers, something that she has done at work.
“I am looking forward to when we work on the boilers,” she said. “I already know a lot of the technical stuff, and knowing the basics has helped me a lot.”
In fact, her co-workers call on her for advice while they are working in the field.
“I work mainly in sales and operations, but the boiler guys call me to get my input,” she said. “It is pretty cool that I am able to answer their questions.”
Steelman said the reason that Whitehead is able to help her fellow employees is because of her work ethic.
“Hannah is a very intelligent student who takes the time to read and learn what she needs to do,” he said.
Diaz also sees that attribute in Whitehead, as well as something else.
“She had embraced so much the hands-on style of learning,” he said. “The best thing about Hannah is she puts a light in the shop. She is always willing to help others.”
Classmate Larry Brickner said he has seen her grow while at TSTC.
“Once you set her up, she is ready to go,” he said. “She is good at all of her electrical applications. And when it comes to milling, she is so precise. I am impressed with what she is able to do.”
Whitehead said she is working hard in school and at her job to prove to her son that he will be able to accomplish his goals.
“I am looking out for his future right now,” she said. “I want to show him that he will be capable of doing anything if he puts in the quality work.”
The need for industrial machinery mechanics will increase over the next few years. According to onetonline.org, such positions were expected to grow by 35% in Texas between 2020 and 2030. The average salary for an industrial machinery mechanic in Texas is $57,600, according to the website.
At its Abilene campus, TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems – Mechanical Specialization and several certificates of completion.
Industrial Systems is one of nine programs at TSTC that have money-back guarantees. The college’s commitment to students is simple: If they do not have a job in their field within six months of graduation, they will receive a full refund of their tuition. For more information on the Money-Back Guarantee program, visit tstc.edu/admissions/tuition/.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.