Meaningful lessons: Partnership helps students save money and lives

BY Amanda Sotelo

Seniors from South Texas Independent School District’s South Texas Academy for Medical Professionals who are interested in becoming Emergency Medical Technicians can now earn this Basic level certification in high school from Texas State Technical College.

“We’ve created this pathway to be innovative and provide their students opportunities and credentials they can use to find a good-paying job,” said Cledia Hernandez, associate vice president for TSTC Continuing Education. “This also helps them kick-start their studies in the medical profession.”

The partnership between TSTC and the academy was formed three years ago to create an Emergency Medical Technician Basic career pathway. Like any college training course, the students must successfully complete the program by meeting all passing grade requirements and clinical rotation hours. After one school year of training, TSTC recommends that students take the national registry exam to become Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technicians.

“This credential allows these students to go into the emergency medical service industry anywhere in the United States and begin their career right out of high school,” said Hernandez. “In turn, they (students) can always come back to TSTC for our one-year paramedic program.”

Dante Deleon, 17, said the training he is receiving through this program is invaluable. He said the best part is the hands-on training and the experience it’s providing him.

“I’m a hands-on learner. I’m able to learn things faster if I’m doing them,” said Deleon. “It’s great knowing that everything we do can save someone’s life and we’re able to do that because of our training.”

Students like Kassandra Mora, 17, not only take advantage of the program for its training, but also to save money. There is no fee for the students to take the Emergency Medical Technician Basic training course.

“Being given this opportunity in high school helps a lot,” said Mora. “The classes and uniform I know cost a lot. My family wouldn’t be able to afford it. But being in this program helps us save money so we can save lives, and it lets us get ahead in our careers.”

Mora said she hopes to continue on to become a paramedic and work immediately after high school. Her ultimate goal is to become a psychiatrist.

Hernandez said there are a number of job openings for Emergency Medical Technicians and the possibilities seem limitless.

“TSTC’s mission is to place more Texans into good-paying jobs,” said Hernandez. “This is exactly what we’re doing. For many of these students this is their career, while some will continue on to become registered nurses or doctors. So we make sure all of our programs are hands-on and our students leave with the skill sets that make them highly qualified and competitive in the field.”

For more information on continuing education at TSTC and what courses are offered, call 956-364-4567 or visit