Student Success Story – Cameron Erskin, College of the Mainland

Dual credit student is new face of Taco Bell

Cameron Erskin views each critic’s cry of “you can’t” as a challenge. Determined to be the first in his family to graduate from college, the College of the Mainland dual credit student has already earned 18 hours of college credit, a scholarship and a national platform to tell his story.Cameron_Erskin_1

One of three teens chosen as spokesperson for the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, Erskin will encourage students to complete high school and will be featured on Taco Bell products at franchises across the nation. Erskin recently returned from a California conference where he shared his story with a crowd of 1,600.

“Trials and tribulations kind of made me who I am. I’ve had so many people tell me ‘you can’t do this, you won’t do this,’” said Erskin. “I’ve had people who claim to support me tell me that, but now they are among the biggest fans.”

While always a good student, the Clear Springs High School senior found new determination after joining the Boys and Girls Club of America.

“The Boys and Girls Club really tries to push them. They do a lot of service projects,” said his mother, Meshell Vorsburgh. “I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

After joining the club, he volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, served food at St. Vincent’s Episcopal House in Galveston and mentored middle and high school students at Power Hour.

His Boys and Girls Club mentor of five years, Carol Freeman, discovered the Taco Bell Skills Challenge Scholarship and worked with him until 2 a.m. completing it. He won that scholarship and eight months later received the call asking him to become a face of Taco Bell. He said yes.

Erskin credits his drive to pursue an education to two women in his life – Freeman and his mother.

“The importance of education was instilled in me since I was young.  I’ve always had big dreams. I knew that to achieve my dreams and goals I had to go to college,” he remembered. “My mom made me have a ‘dream board’ (of goals) when I was 10 or 11. She took it a step further. She made me do a six-month, one-year and five-year plan.”

At 18, Erskin is still armed with a plan – to graduate with a master’s degree in architecture in three years. Determined to reach this ambitious goal, he began taking dual credit classes at COM and plans to take a full load of courses year-round at Prairie View A&M University.

He’ll start June 8, the day after his graduation from Clear Springs High School, when he heads to Prairie View A&M University. He will take summer classes at the school’s Architectural Concepts Institute.

Now in a whirlwind of activity between finishing classes and graduation, he will travel to the national Taco Bell franchise conference to once again share his story.

“My mother has always taught me to ‘lift (others) as you climb,’” said Erskin. “I’m climbing and lifting as many people with me as I can.”

A “Couple” of Success Stories from Galveston College

Opposites attract, they say… Perla Oseguera was always college bound and Victor Alvarez could not see himself going to college. Yet, with the two most important women in his life encouraging his talents, Victor was soon to be convinced.alvarez

After graduating from Ball High in 2011, Victor, a valued member of the wait staff at Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Conference Center, wanted to ask his high school sweetheart to marry him. But, he knew that her ambitions involved a serious path in higher education with her sights set on becoming a registered nurse (RN) from Galveston College, and eventually, receiving at minimum a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Victor’s older sister persuaded him that he had the “right stuff” and should join her in college – and become the first two in their family to graduate with college degrees. Reluctant at first, Victor became more interested when Perla graduated from Ball in 2013.

In summer of the same year, they married. Perla was working for a local chiropractor and discovered that nursing was in fact the career for her. Her success at Galveston College came rapidly. She was eligible for Universal Access through the Galveston College Foundation and received two scholarships, the Marionette Beyah Memorial Fund and the Nielson Music Scholarship.

Victor chose the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) Certificate program with an Associate Degree. He was awarded a Pell Grant toward completion of his studies. Victor credits Rodrigo Santoyo, Instructor of Developmental Math at Galveston College, for getting him through his math courses and Mr. Ronald Foster, Program Director for HVAC, for his success with the advanced certificate program. His supervisors at Moody Gardens promoted him five months ago and he is now working as a technician in the Air Conditioning Department.

Perla continues to work while pursuing two Associate Degrees at Galveston College, her first in General Science and a second in Nursing. Perla says that, thus far, her favorite courses were taught by Dr. Ana Sanchez, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Program Coordinator, and Elizabeth Tapp, Instructor of Psychology and Sociology and Program Coordinator.

Both she and her young husband reflected on the significance of the College library for study. Because of full-time work commitments, Victor and Perla need the library environment to concentrate and work without interruption. Also, both of them meet friends in the Library and enjoy their time together.

For this young married couple, Perla and Victor, the future is bright because of their community college educations. Victor will graduate in May 2015 and Perla in Fall 2017.

Emergency Medical Services Jobs Continue to Grow

Emergency Medical Services Careers

The healthcare industry is now providing a growing number of career opportunities. Among them, emergency medical services (EMS) jobs pay well and are critical in emergency medical incidents such as accidents, heart attacks, and strokes, yet they don’t require eight years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical school expenses to qualify.

EMS providers are responsible for administering immediate medical care and transporting patients to the nearest medical facilities by first response ambulance. While working in high-pressure environments, providers have to maintain exacting performance and a high degree of compassion towards patients. Based on the scope of practice and depth of treatment, emergency medical careers are divided into emergency medical technicians (EMT) and paramedics.

The Difference between an EMT and a Paramedic

TGCCCC’s overview on emergency medical services programs explains the difference between an EMT and a paramedic. In short, a paramedic is generally an advanced EMT: An EMT requires 120 to 160 hours of training, while a paramedic needs a two-year program, and thus has a broader scope of practice. For example, while a basic EMT is restricted to using oxygen, glucose, asthma inhalers, and similar treatments, a paramedic can use 30-40 medications and perform more advanced treatment to support breathing. Sometimes, you must become an EMT before you can start paramedic training.

As the highest level of EMS provider, paramedic incomes average $40,000 annually, but they can earn up to $70,000 a year. That’s compared to $33,000 and $51,000 respectively for an EMT. The amount of training, the depth of medical treatment, and pay rate are good factors to help you decide whether you would like to pursue an EMT or paramedic career.

EMT/Paramedic Education and Job Placement

Formal training and state licenses are required to practice emergency medical services. TGCCCC member colleges offer three progressive levels of training: EMT basic, EMT intermediate and EMT advanced level for Paramedics (EMT-P). These programs will equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to provide quick reactions and competent care to save lives in emergency medical settings. In addition to medical coursework, a student will get hands-on training to attain strong reasoning skills – to assess the patient’s condition and overall situation; communication skills – to effectively assist patients in distress and communicate with emergency rooms; and stress tolerance – to maintain your focus despite potentially disturbing scenes.

Regarding job placement, EMT and paramedic jobs are expected to grow by 23% through 2020, much faster than the average of all jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among all opportunities, first response ambulance service is the most popular choice for both EMTs and paramedics. However, there are other employment options to consider. Air ambulances, which are used to rescue major incident victims, often require one paramedic along with a nurse or doctor. Industrial safety, fire service and park rangers are also required to be at least an ETM or paramedic certified. There are also opportunities for military medics and overseas paramedics – working in an army or in another country offer a number of unique benefits.

While dealing with many distressing situations, EMTs and paramedics often find their work rewarding because they are able to save lives from the brink of death. If you are considering an EMS career, please contact our TGCCCC member colleges for available programs in your area of the Houston/Gulf Coast region.

Women Needed for Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Female electricianThere has never been a better time for women to enter into a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) career. As Houston and the Gulf Coast region attract more STEM-based corporations, the demand for qualified workers continues to grow.

Community colleges have been supplying the training and education to meet those needs for five decades, and we have hundreds of program areas in which students can begin successful careers. Many of them are in STEM-related fields, but all can be used as a stepping stone for career advancement.

From manufacturing technologists to chemical engineers, and from computer technicians to nurses, the STEM fields are more open to women than ever. And, companies in the various industries are readily hiring women when qualified candidates apply.

Students can begin their careers in the medical and dental fields by attending classes at many of the local community colleges. Others interested in STEM can choose degrees, certifications and short-term training programs in such areas as drafting and design engineering, instrumentation and controls, logistics and global supply, and process technology.

According to, 37% of database engineers, 78% of clinical laboratory technologists, and 91% of registered nurses are women. In the higher-level technical industry positions, there is still a lot of room for women to increase their presence. Forbes estimates that 83% of chemical engineers and 78% of environmental scientists are men.

STEM students in Houston and the Gulf Coast area have opportunities to get hands-on experience in a real world setting through internships set up with major companies and organizations such as Dow Chemical and NASA. Additionally, faculty and staff are committed to providing students with quality education and information on scholarships to help students pay for their educations.

Tammy Hendrix-Doucette, a recipient of the T-STEM Challenge Scholarship from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, said, “This scholarship has positioned me to be eligible to be part of a research grant fellowship. I am on a research team for thermal chemical bio-mass projects and will work on a presentation for the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. It has literally changed my life for the better.”

Information about scholarships, grants and financial aid are available at each community college in the Texas Gulf Coast area.

Pursue a Degree and Career in the Field of Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineering is one of the newest and fastest growing career fields in the petrochemical industry, with more than 16,000 entry level jobs available. Electrical engineering technicians design, develop, test and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment on industrial sites.  They work with a wide array of devices, components and systems from tiny microchips to huge supercomputers. To become one, a person must have a certificate or Associate of Applied Science in Electrical Technology and may be required to complete a nationally certified Apprenticeship program, where an apprentice must complete 2,000 hours of supervised work.


That is where Texas Gulf Coast Community Colleges come in. Earning your two-year degree through one of our member schools will help to lay the foundation for your success in a career you love. Colleges like San Jacinto or Alvin College offer hands-on, interesting classes such as Electrical Theory, DC/AC Circuits Fundamentals, Computer Networking Technology, and Fundamentals of Electronics and Math. These courses will pave the way for your associate degree, as well as help you enhance your critical thinking, reading comprehension, problem solving, and troubleshooting skills.

The type of industries you can expect to work in with an A.S. in electrical engineering include:

  • Research and Development
  • Engineering services firms
  • Manufacturing
  • The Federal Government

In addition, students who complete their associate degree in electrical technology may often find themselves working for large industrial plants, public utilities, government agencies, electrical contractors, building contractors, and construction companies. Electrical engineers and technicians also work less commonly in department store chains, hospitals and school districts.

What a Degree in Electrical Technology Offers

If you decide to move forward with this career path, the average salary is something our students will appreciate. Generally, electrical engineering technicians can expect to earn anywhere from $30,000 to $80,000 per year with an associate degree. In 2014 the median pay was about $30 per hour or more than $60,000 per year. And, you will be in good company should you choose this career path. Several famous electrical engineers are Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla.

One of the hardest challenges for college students is finding a career with available jobs when they graduate. Prospective students should know that a career in the petrochemical industry guarantees a job in the field. Exxon Mobile is coordinating programs in our community colleges to share expertise and has committed to $500,000 for a workforce training program. There are thousands of jobs coming to the Houston area and across the Gulf Coast because of this huge new investment in the chemical industry.

“The chemical industry supports 73,000 high-paying Texas manufacturing jobs and will add more under announced expansion plans by our industry, including at ExxonMobil,” said Steve Pryor, President of the ExxonMobil Chemical Company.

Houston and the surrounding area have a thriving electrical engineering field, and if you’re interested in an electrical engineering degree, there will be plenty of jobs and opportunity awaiting you.

Put Your Creative and Science Skills to Work with CADD

CADD (1)

If you like art, math, and science, you’re a great candidate for an associate degree in Drafting/Design technology. You’ll learn how to use computer-aided drafting & design (CADD) technology to make drawings and computer simulations support architects or mechanical, electrical, or industrial engineers.

You may also study manufacturing processes, electrical and wiring processes, or building materials and engineering practices, depending on how you want to specialize with your drafting skills. An associate of applied science degree puts you on the path to becoming an architectural or civil drafter, electrical or electronics drafter, or a mechanical drafter.

You’ll learn not only CADD tools, but also traditional methods of drafting blueprints and diagrams. Drafting jobs are good for creative people, because you don’t create the same schematic or drawing twice! They also pay well, with a median annual salary in the Houston/Gulf Coast area of nearly $50,000.


​Drafters must have a good eye and enjoy detailed work. You’ll also need to have good communications skills because you’ll work with planners, architects, and engineers to perfect diagrams and implement what they need accurately. You’ll help translate their ideas and designs into blueprints and technical diagrams that construction workers can actually use to build things, that electricians can use to run wire properly, and even so plumbers can run piping correctly. Most of your work will occur in an office environment, working on a computer, but you may also have the opportunity to go see your diagrams and designs put to use on a building site or work floor.

Here’s the best part – you can get your associate degree in drafting technology in two years at one of our community college member schools at a fraction of the cost of some online private schools. Our tuition and fees are extremely affordable, especially for students who reside in the district. You can find our communities colleges and their services areas here. Houston’s petrochemical and manufacturing industries are growing exponentially, and if you’re interested in a drafting degree, you’ll have plenty of jobs to choose from when you graduate.

Supply Chain Management – More Than a Buzzword

supply-chain-background-concept-glowing-13489447The supply chain is a critical system used by many companies that involve multiple parties such as manufacturers, suppliers, transporters, and warehouses that all contribute to the movement of products from the point of origin to consumers. Specific functions of the supply chain can include distribution, marketing, new product development, finance, and operations.

Because there is continual movement in the supply chain process, any disruption could negatively impact a company’s revenue and profit and leave customers dissatisfied. You only have to look at a recent iPhone issue that Apple faced to see how a supply chain can be affected.

The production of display panels for Apple’s iPhone 6 was interrupted when the backlight used to brighten the screen had to be changed, according to Reuters. The redesigned display screen slowed the production of the iPhone 6 because the screen assembly had to be paused. Production has resumed, but suppliers are scrambling to quickly produce a sufficient amount of screens for the iPhone’s anticipated launch this fall. It’s unclear how the issue will affect the launch.

As the above example illustrates, any setback in the supply chain process could have ramifications that ripple across the process. It’s important to have supply chain managers who can oversee the life cycle of goods, anticipate any issues, and respond accordingly so movement of goods won’t be disrupted.

Supply chain management professionals are in demand across several industries, including oil and gas, automotive, food and beverage, and electronics. There are many opportunities to work in various areas of the supply chain such as logistics, inventory control, purchasing and more.

Supply Chain Manager Skills, Responsibilities and Salary

Supply chain managers have several responsibilities, such as:

  • offer guidance on selection of suppliers
  • analyze pricing trends that may impact the time of purchases
  • coordinate the activities involved with the distribution of the products
  • manage the process of identifying and securing materials

Another supply chain management professional is a logistic technician/manager. Their duties include:

  • plan, oversee, or coordinate transportation, storage, or distribution of goods and services
  • develop both strategies and forecasting plans to keep sufficient inventory by serving as the liaison between company and supplier
  • confirm products are arriving at their destinations in a timely fashion

Individuals who pursue supply chain management careers usually possess solid problem-solving skills, good time-management skills, an ability to see “the big picture” and details, and cab collaborate well with others.

In Houston and the surrounding area, there is a projection of nearly 50,000 supply chain management jobs by 2016. The hourly wage at the high end of the pay scale is $54.34. There will be an estimated 4,320 logistician jobs by 2016 with hourly wage of $65.77 (high pay).

The member colleges of the Texas Gulf Coast Community College Consortium (TGCCCC) offer programs of study in both logistics and supply chain management. Contact a TGCCCC member school to learn more about the coursework and career opportunities in this exciting and challenging field.

ExxonMobil Projects that are Bringing So Many Jobs to the Gulf Coast

ExxonMobil Chemical Company is making it’s most expensive investment in the United States, ever, with its expansion of the Baytown plant. ExxonMobil is installing one of the largest steam crackers in the world at Baytown, making it the largest producer of ethylene for the company. Steam cracking is used to break petroleum down into more useful elements for humans.

ExxonMobil is also adding  two new units to the Mont Belvieu plastics plant. Texas will become ExxonMobil’s largest polyethylene supply point in the world when that project is finished. This capacity increase will help ExxonMobil meet the rapidly growing global demand for high-value polyethylene products.

This video explains more about the projects.

ExxonMobil Celebrates Construction Project and Petrochemical Scholarship Recipients

ExxonMobil celebrated last week the announcement of a multibillion-dollar ethane cracker construction project at its Baytown complex, and marked the occasion by recognizing 30 scholarship recipients who plan to pursue petrochemical careers.

The expansion project will employ about 10,000 construction workers, create 4,000 related jobs in nearby communities, and add 350 permanent positions at the Baytown facility.

More than 50,000 construction trades and petrochemical workers will be needed in the next decade across the Texas Gulf Coast region as refineries expand their capacity and replace retiring workers.

ExxonMobil petrochemical scholarship recipients

Steve Pryor, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company, stands alongside 30 students recently selected by their local community colleges to receive scholarships for petrochemical training.

To help fill the demand for skilled workers, ExxonMobil has committed $1 million to the Community College Petrochemical Initiative, a collaboration between nine Texas Gulf Coast community colleges.  The initiative aims to recruit and train the next generation of petrochemical workers.

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