Female students aim for new heights in TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker program

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Marisol Gonzalez (left) and Jacqueline Mejia are students in the Electrical Lineworker Technology program at the TSTC campus in Harlingen. (Courtesy: Texas State Technical College/TSTC)

HARLINGEN — The high-risk challenges that electrical lineworkers experience when working with electricity on utility poles would inspire Marisol Gonzalez and Jacqueline Mejia to pursue an education in Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology at Texas State Technical College’s Harlingen campus.

Gonzalez and Mejia recently recalled the moment in each of their lives when they noticed the work being done by electrical lineworkers.

“They were fixing a light post near a local welding school I used to attend,” Gonzalez said.

“Some friends work at a local utility company, and I asked about their job duties,” Mejia said.

Now Gonzalez is pursuing a certificate of completion at TSTC, while Mejia is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree.

Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology is one of TSTC’s performance-based education, or PBE, programs. In PBE, students work with coaches to develop schedules in two-hour time blocks. Lectures, videos and other learning content is on Canvas, a learning management system. Instructors also do mini-lectures throughout the day as needed. Tests can be written, demonstration-based or online. Some students with professional experience can test out of some lessons.

Both Harlingen residents agreed that the PBE education is worthwhile.

“I enjoy how the PBE videos explain how to have more control with equipment, such as a ‘hot stick’ (an insulated pole used to protect utility workers from electric shock) and how to tie knots with a rope,” Gonzalez said.

“I learned how a meter box functions, and the instructors instructed me how to work on it,” Mejia said.

Jessica Guzman, a TSTC PBE mentor, said both students are developing well in their studies.

“Marisol and Jacqueline are driven to succeed with the PBE education, and they request guidance when needed,” she said. “I introduced the students to recent lineworker graduate Jazlyn Roque for motivation. I felt that was important because Marisol and Jacqueline are the only female students in the program.”

Gonzalez and Mejia said their instructors are thorough in their teaching.

“They are great motivators because they discuss different situations to help us succeed,” Gonzalez said.

“My instructor (Troy) Vasquez explains how the work will be at a job site,” Mejia said. “He reviews each assignment multiple times to make sure we comprehend it.”

Both students look forward to having lucrative careers when they graduate.

“I’m glad this hands-on training is preparing me for a high-paying career,” Gonzalez said.

“My mindset is to keep going because that’s my paycheck at the top of the pole,” Mejia said.

Angel Toledo, TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker program director in Harlingen, said both students have shown dedication to the program.

“The increase in female students in our program has encouraged more women to enroll at TSTC,” he said. “I believe the program’s success has been attributed to a higher outreach in demographics, including women. I foresee more women joining the workforce in the near future.”

According to onetonline.org, electrical power-line installers and repairers can earn an average annual salary of $65,730 in Texas. The website projected that there would be a 24% increase in the number of such jobs in the state from 2020 to 2030.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a certificate of completion in Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology at its Abilene, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall and Waco campuses.

The program is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee, which refunds a participating graduate’s tuition if he or she has not found a job in their field within six months of graduation.

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.


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