Make Sure your Student knows: TSTC offers a World of Opportunities!

By Brandon Chappell

In recent days, I have been trying to find out what the perception of Texas State Technical College is from the students in the community, and I have been totally surprised at what I’ve heard. One student told me that he was under the impression that TSTC was strictly a place you go to when you want to work on cars. Another student told me that she wasn’t aware that females could even attend TSTC. Neither of these statements is true. TSTC offers a wide variety of associate degrees and certificates for both men and women and is considered by many as one of Waco’s best kept secrets.

tstc signTSTC, formerly known as TSTI has been a part of educating and preparing students for the workforce in Waco for over 50 years. With an array of programs such as Gaming, Programming, Welding, Laser Optics, Building Construction, Culinary Arts, Web Design and many others TSTC, offers hands on education and experience locally at a very affordable price. All of the instructors at TSTC have experience working in their particular fields, so the knowledge and wisdom they offer the students is invaluable.

A lecture-style class is not for everyone and at TSTC, we appreciate and value a hands-on teaching environment. Aside from the instructors themselves, there are many services TSTC offers that help our students successfully graduate and find a job in their field. There are scholarships and grants that students can apply for to help pay for tuition and books. The students have access to Success Coaches, who are the academic advisors available 5 days a week to help students navigate any obstacles that comes between them and graduation.

Another service TSTC offers to students is the Project Link Program. Project Link is a program administered by Prosper Waco at TSTC and MCC that allows the students who are members of the program at La Vega High School and University High School to have their own personal Success Coach. My name is Brandon Chappell and I am the Project Link Liaison at TSTC. I help prospective Project Link students who are interested in enrolling in TSTC in the future with information about testing, admissions and other requirements dealing with pursuing a degree or completing a certificate program. If the Project Link students have any problems or concerns dealing with being successful at TSTC, I am their “go-to guy.” I offer a one-on-one mentoring environment, and access to the same support services that the other Success Coaches have, but I am given the opportunity to concentrate on a much smaller number of students and build on a level of familiarity with the students from the high school level.

tornadoCome check out the TSTC Waco campus. Take a tour of some of the different departments and find out what program works for you. TSTC isn’t just for recent high school graduates; many of our students have been in the working world for several years before enrolling at TSTC. Most of our programs take 5 semesters or less to complete. If you’re not interested in earning a college degree, TSTC also offers certificate programs that can teach you the basic skills in many different trades so that you can broaden your horizons or make yourself more marketable in the workforce.

At TSTC our goal is to prepare our students for gainful employment, and we have an amazing placement rate. Ultimately the goal is to get our students out into the real world with the necessary job training and skills that it takes to work in many different industries.

The job market has been getting increasingly more competitive and TSTC can help even the playing for field or place you at the front of the hiring race. To find out more information about TSTC, visit or head over to the campus between 8-5 and one of our recruiters will be happy to give you a tour or answer any questions you may have.

Brandon ChappellBrandon Chappell was raised in Houston, TX, but his roots are here in Waco. Most of his family were born here in Waco and graduated from local high schools. He attended Prairie View A&M University as a first generation college student. He graduated from PVAMU in 2012 with a Bachelor’s in Communication, and became the first male in his family to be awarded a college degree. He has been employed with Texas State Technical College since 2012 in several different positions and enjoys using his experiences to assist the students with being successful during their time in college.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.



Art Blooms in Spring!

by Jenuine Poetess

bluebonnetsThere’s no denying that Spring is an inspiring season in Central Texas. Having grown up in the north where Spring was such an emotional event—hope, finally! after so much cold, ice, snow, and darkness—I never really put much stock in the changing of seasons in places like Texas. That is, until I lived here and experienced the sheer delight and joy of a riot of color as bluebonnets, Indian paint brushes, and primroses splash their vibrant adornments across the landscape.

So as robins with their plumb red bellies and beloved wildflowers are the harbingers of a Central Texas Spring, so too a calendar chock full of dynamic events is the artists’ first bloom of a new season!

comicconTo kick off, the Heart of Texas Comic Con returns this weekend March 11-13th with artist vendors & live art-making on site, cosplay, food vendors, special guest appearances, and more there is something for comic lovers of every age!  And be sure to stop by the Central Texas Artist Collective (CTAC) to say “hi!” to some of your favorite artists and community organizers living and creating in Waco!

Also coming up this and next week are a number of Waco Poets Society (WPS) events including Nuestra Voz open mic on Saturday March 12th at 7:15pm at Rufi’s Cocina (which you may have seen in the most recent Waco Today!). Open mic is open to all creative expressions—poetry, story-telling, spoken-word, music, reflections, and more! On Tuesday March 15th, WPS is partnering with other artists to present Unsilent :: Survivor Stories, an evening of poetry & spoken word at survivors9:15pm at the Hippodrome on Austin Avenue in downtown Waco. This event is free and open to the public. There will be an opportunity to make a donation which will go to support the efforts of the Advocacy Center of Waco and the Family Abuse Center. In gratitude of the generosity of the Hippodrome donating their space for the event, attendees are encouraged to purchase concession items as a way to support our local business and make sustainable such partnerships between venue and programming! This event will have limited open mic spaces so please arrive at 9:15pm if you are interested in signing up to share 1 piece (2 minutes maximum).

If you have things to share and were not able to get on the list at Unsilent, the next WPS open mic will be Thursday March 17th at Tea2Go Waco-Baylor on S. 7th street with sign-ups opening at 7:15pm.   Again, this venue is open to music, poetry, story-telling, spoken-word, reflections, and more!

art on elmThis Saturday March 12th also marks the deadline for all art submissions for the annual Art on Elm neighborhood arts festival in East Waco Saturday April 9th from 10am-5pm. With live music, artist vendors, juried art exhibit, art activities, live art-making, food trucks and vendors this event is FREE and open to the public of all ages. Bring your friends, your family, your neighbors, and your funds to support local artists and enjoy the thriving creative culture Waco is growing!  If you are an emerging artists looking to take the next step into exhibiting and selling your artwork, have a conversation with Angie or Steve Veracruz of CTAC; they will support you through the process and provide you with all the details and tools you need to soar!  (Be sure to ask them about Paper Shoes the next time you see them!)

If you’re looking for some music to enrich your palette, consider taking in a concert with the Waco Symphony Orchestra. On Saturday, March 19th, they will feature 16-year-old violin prodigy Fiona Shea who will join the WSO to perform Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin & Orchestra and the Waco Symphony Youth Orchestra–celebrating their 25th Anniversary. Tickets are available for purchase here.

Live theater may be more your style and if so, check out the Waco Civic Theater’s Spring production of The Great Gatsby…make a swanky evening of it and dress up in your own best attire. To stay up-to-date on the season or to learn about how you can audition for their next show, please visit WCT’s site here.

Maybe you’re more interested in kicking back in a casual setting with some good food and drinks and a great band. If so, check out the Spring line-up on stage at The Backyard and Common Grounds.  Throughout this Spring, the Waco Hippodrome also has some live music offerings, as well as free film screenings–from the silly to the serious, and other performances to engage audiences of all ages.

food truckTo get you ready for all the excitement of Art on Elm, head out to Waco’s Downtown Heritage Square for the 2nd Annual Food Truck Showdown on Saturday April 2nd. Tickets and full schedule of all the delicious offerings and events are available here. Gates open at 10am and be sure to bring your appetite! There will of course be a food truck showdown/competition, live music, artist vendors, concert, and sunset screening outdoor movie! What a generous portion of goodies to savor!

rootstockAnd while you’re digesting this buffet of soul-nourishing and taste-bud pleasing offerings Waco is dishing up, mark your calendars for the Rootstock Texas Wine Festival on Saturday April 23rd put on by the Valley Mills Vineyards at Indian Spring Park. This event will include tastings from 14 Central Texas wineries to be followed by a special VIP dinner featuring the culinary artworks of Milo Biscuit Company! To purchase tickets for the day or festival and VIP dinner please visit here.

So whether you are an artist, a patron, an admirer, or one who simply enjoys delicious sights, sounds, and savors there is something to inspire everyone. Let us know how you’ll be enjoying the arts in Waco this Spring!


Jenuine Poetess August 2014Jenuine Poetess is an artist, visionary, and community organizer. In 2010, she founded In the Words of Womyn (ITWOW)an international, grass-roots, written and spoken-word arts project with chapters throughout Los Angeles, CA; Waco, TX; and Lebanon.  Jenuine is the founder of Waco Poets Society and co-founder of the Central Texas Artist Collective.    She writes, organizes, and creates rooted in the fierce conviction that holding intentional space, access, and opportunity for all people to foster their creative health is a matter of justice and is a vital asset to the sustainable thriving of communities.  She currently lives and poems in Central Texas where she enjoys finding new ways to disrupt the homeostasis of her city.  You can contact her at:

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.


Red Cross Month: A Very Personal Story about First Aid Training

by Amy Grace

March is Red Cross month! That time of year in which we—along with community leaders, partners and volunteers—recognize how the American Red Cross helps people down the street, across the country and around the world. In celebration of that, I will be sharing some personal experiences and thoughts about the Red Cross each week.

When I was in my teens and early 20’s, I was a lifeguard, lifeguard instructor and swimming instructor, and as such, I had all the requisite certifications including Red Cross CPR, First Aid, etc. While I won’t be sharing my exact age today, let’s just say those lifeguarding days were quite a while ago!

But last yepoppyar, my 4-year old daughter and I were eating dinner in our living room on Valentine’s Day, sharing a beef and broccoli dish from a local restaurant, when my little one choked on a piece of meat. Her airway was completely blocked, and if I had called 9-1-1, there would have been very little chance of the EMTs getting to our house in time to save her life. Instantly, all those years of Red Cross CPR and First Aid training kicked in and I jumped into action, performing the Heimlich maneuver and literally saving my daughter’s life. This Valentine’s Day was a very precious and poignant one, remembering how close I came to losing my little Valentine a year ago. But thanks to the Red Cross, she is still with me and thriving.

Those classes were and are provided to the public through our Preparedness and Health & thanksSafety Services teams, including babysitting classes, instructor certification classes, and so, so much more. Are you equipped to save a life in your own back yard, your pool, around your dinner table? You could be! Get into a class and learn how to be an everyday hero to the loved ones around you!

To find available classes, locations, costs, etc., visit us online at

Amy Grace PhotoAmy Grace is a native Texan and is serving our community as the Executive Director of the Heart of Texas chapter of the American Red Cross. She has an extensive professional background but is most proud of being a mom to her incredible four-year old daughter and paying forward a legacy of courage, resilience, hope and abundance. She currently resides in Temple with her daughter, two canine family members (Ranger and Silver) and her grandmother.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.