What’s stopping you? TCC alum transitions from tough upbringing to full scholarship

Things are looking golden for Tre’Zjon Cothran. The Tarrant County College alumnus transferred to Texas Wesleyan University on full scholarship, and he is set to soon be the first college graduate in his family. Cothran has an ambitious career path ahead of him that includes becoming a police officer, an attorney and a judge. But that bright future wasn’t just handed to him. Growing up in south Fort Worth, Cothran was surrounded by gang activity. Some of his friends and relatives lost their lives to violence; others went away to prison. Cothran walked a fine line to get where he is today.
“I overcame my environment by not participating in criminal activities, but I also never turned my back on those around me,” explained Cothran. “I wanted to help them and always tried to speak knowledge and treat everyone equally.”
The path to college was far from a given for Cothran. He was considering joining the armed forces when he received an email stating he was accepted to TCC. He decided he would give higher education a try. While he enjoyed his classes at Trinity River Campus, something was missing.
“It did not feel much like college for the simple fact that I went to school and went straight home, just like high school,” Cothran recalled.
Enter the first of three mentors who would change his life: Steven LeMons, coordinator of Trinity River’s Writing & Learning Center. Cothran visited the center to get assistance with a paper during his first semester. The two struck up a conversation, and LeMons told Cothran about Men of Color, a student support program open to all but specifically designed to assist black and Hispanic males—who, nationwide, tend to enroll in higher education and complete their studies at lower rates than other demographic groups.
“I think Men of Color is a good fit for any young male who is trying to navigate his way through college,” said LeMons, who helped found the group at Trinity River. “It gives you an opportunity to bond with individuals who may be experiencing the same thing. Guys in general have trouble expressing weakness or asking for help. When you are involved with a group that answers your questions before you even ask them, that’s a good thing.”
Men of Color connects students to faculty and staff mentors and provides resources to boost academic achievement and leadership skills. The success rate is significant, with 77 percent of fall semester participants returning to TCC in the spring. In comparison, black and Hispanic men who aren’t involved in Men of Color have a retention rate of 43 percent.
“The program creates a level playing field,” said Freddie Sandifer, Men of Color coordinator. “Black and Hispanic men have the capabilities to succeed, but we may have to do more on the front end to ensure they take advantage of the tools and resources that are out there. Men of Color is about making these students understand that college is indeed for them.”
After filling out an application for Men of Color at LeMons’ recommendation, Cothran met Sandifer—who then connected Cothran to Sheldon Smart, communications and speech instructor, who would become Cothran’s official mentor through the program. Each man played a key role in molding Cothran into who he is today.

Trezjon with mentors.

Tre’Zjon, center, with Men of Color mentors Sheldon Smart, left, and Steven LeMons, right.

“Mr. LeMons was someone I could come to and discuss personal matters with and ask for guidance,” Cothran explained. “We discussed life-changing events and he gave me advice about how not to be distracted during the difficult times throughout my life.
“Mr. Sandifer taught me the business side of growing into a man. He taught me to carry myself as a professional and how to properly dress and network. Mr. Smart allowed me to see my capabilities and that I could achieve my goals. He taught me to never be afraid of chasing my dreams.”
The three mentors became a network of support, guiding Cothran through three semesters at TCC. He attended Men of Color workshops and events and even became a student worker for the organization. With a new sense of confidence and vision for his future, he applied and was accepted to Texas Wesleyan.
“Tre’Zjon has overcome quite a lot,” said Smart. “He has come a long way from growing up in a rough neighborhood and being financially poor. What I also admire about him is that he always has a job. This guy is willing to work hard for what he wants. He really does work long hours to make sure his mom and siblings are okay, all while attending school.”
After finishing his bachelor’s degree this December, Cothran plans to go into criminal justice—beginning as a police officer.
“After losing several friends and family members to gun violence, it made me want to be hands-on about removing criminals from the streets,” Cothran remarked. “I want to feel as if I am making the community safer for children. I also feel that there are not enough police officers in the field who can relate to someone of that background.”
Cothran wants to do more than take criminals off the streets; he wants to ensure justice is served. He would like to one day go to law school and eventually become a judge. His mentors have no doubt he will reach those goals.
“Other students can learn from him about hard work and determination despite experiencing a difficult and challenging home life,” noted Smart. “He also isn’t afraid to ask questions and seek advice and counsel.”
Cothran plans to use his experiences with Men of Color and the mentorship of LeMons, Sandifer and Smart to make a difference in the lives of others.
“Now that Tre’Zjon has been mentored, he feels a responsibility to give back,” said Sandifer. “He’s constantly encouraging those he grew up with to get an education and get engaged on campus.”
Cothran is already having an impact in the community, returning to TCC recently to serve as a speaker for a Men of Color event and serving as an officer for a similar group at Texas Wesleyan.
“Students can learn quite a bit from our workshops and seminars, but when you’re learning from a fellow student, you’re getting something from someone in the same time zone of life,” noted LeMons. “Tre’Zjon can share his first-hand experiences, how he succeeded and cultivated key relationships.”
For Cothran, it all comes down to those relationships—and he encourages other students to take time to get to know faculty and staff.
“With the contributions of these gentlemen, I realize I have a voice that not many others have,” said Cothran. “It made me feel that I could possibly be a role model for the next generation. Seeing individuals from similar backgrounds in successful positions gave me hope and confidence.”
This story is the latest in a series celebrating members of the TCC community who don’t let challenges stop them. Follow these links to read previous features:Salma Alvarez, Celia Mwakutuya, Jessica Caudle, Ken Moak, Melora Werlwas, Kevin Douglas, Marine Creek Collegiate High School students and students in atypical careers.

TCC Hosts Next Generation of Aviation Maintenance Professionals for Hands-On Competition

Students from across the region gather to demonstrate skills in high-demand field
FORT WORTH, Texas (Feb. 24, 2017) – Tarrant County College will host future aviation maintenance technicians from across the Southwest this month for the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA) Aviation Maintenance Olympics. The event gives students an opportunity to demonstrate their skills in a field that is soaring in demand.
The eighth annual event will take place Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Erma C. Johnson Hadley Northwest Center of Excellence for Aviation, Transportation and Logistics—TCC’s training site at Alliance Airport. At 163,500 square feet, it is the largest aviation education facility in Texas.
Students from seven schools throughout the region—including institutions in Houston, Corpus Christi, Longview, Tulsa and North Texas—will take part in the competition, which includes parts assembly and installation along with safety techniques. All portions of the competition are hands on, with students using safety wire, hydraulic tubing, electrical conductors and more to showcase the speed, accuracy and expertise required of aviation technicians. Laboratory competition sponsors include American Airlines, US Aviation, Mair-Crafters Aviation, Tarrant Regional Water District, Ellis Precision Industries, Parker Hannifin/Aviall, Elbit Systems of America, Trimec Aviation, GE On-Wing Support, Broadie’s Aircraft, the DFW Chapter of PAMA and J & G Aviation; prizes are provided by Snap-On Tools.
The event provides networking opportunities and enhances students’ résumés.
“As the industry expands and technology advances, there is tremendous need for professionals who can safely and quickly take care of the worldwide fleet of aircraft,” said Darrell Irby, chair of TCC’s Aviation Department. “Our students spend countless hours preparing for their careers, and the PAMA Olympics are a fun way to put their skills to the test.”
To keep up with demand, the aviation industry will need more than 2 million new professionals through 2035—including 679,000 new maintenance technicians, according to the 2016 Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook, an industry forecast. TCC offers associate degrees and certificates in aviation maintenance technology and airframe maintenance along with professional pilot training. For more information, visit the TCC website.
Media information: The competition runs 8 a.m. to approximately 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. Awards will be presented at approximately 4 p.m. Visits are recommended between 2:15 and 3 p.m. for the most visual elements of the Olympics.

Tarrant County College South Campus to Host Building Sciences Expo 2017: What Lies Ahead

FORT WORTH, Texas (Feb. 15, 2017) – Tarrant County College South Campus will host Building Sciences Expo 2017: What Lies Ahead, a conference focusing on the opportunities, strategies and benefits of green building design on Wednesday, Feb. 22, from noon to 9 p.m. in the Center of Excellence for Energy Technology, 5301 Campus Drive.


The conference targets researchers, practitioners, architects, engineers, as well as faculty and students involved in building sciences. A variety of topics related to green buildings will be included, ranging from building science to project management, energy code, drone technology, energy modeling and a case study for the LEED-Platinum Certified Center of Excellence for Energy Technology.


Admission to the expo is free; dinner tickets are $25 and may be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/north-texas-building-sciences-expo-2017-tickets-30259494964. Attendees will receive five continuing education units from the American Institute of Architects Fort Worth Chapter.


TCC Community & Industry Education Services are hosting the conference in partnership with the American Institute of Architects Fort Worth, Construction Specifications Institute and U.S Green Building Council Texas Chapter.


For more information or to register for the conference, please contact Derek Hubernak at 817-515-4167 or visit https://www.tccd.edu/community/conferences-and-seminars/building-sciences-expo/.



Makers to Convene at Trinity River Campus for FAB Now 2017

Visit the registration page by clicking the image.

Fort Worth, Texas (Feb. 15, 2017)



Tarrant County College Trinity River Campus is collaborating with The Texas MAKERS Guild to host FAB Now 2017, a three-day  educational meetup and expo for anyone who wants to know more about the Maker Movement or would like to demonstrate their maker skills. A national trend, the maker movement is considered “the platform” on which today’s artisans create, craft and develop leading ideas and products.


FAB Now 2017 is expected to attract educators, engineers, scientists, artists, entrepreneurs and families. Now in its third year, FAB offers demos and hands-on activities that bring together 3D printing, computer numerically controlled production resources, art and design for creative expression and community-oriented problem solving, according to event organizers.


The three-day conference features presenters from throughout the region, as well as live-streamed presentations from across the nation. FAB Now 2017 is free and open to the public.


Conference Highlights

  • Students MAKE Showcase (K-12 and college) – Saturday, Feb. 18
  • Maker Expo & Vendors Trade Show – Saturday, Feb. 18 and Sunday, Feb. 19
  • Making Together: Creative Making for Families – Sunday, Feb. 19



Friday, Feb. 17, 2017

1 to 5 p.m.


Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017

1 to 5 p.m.



Tarrant County College Trinity River Campus

Action and Energy Rooms (4th Floor)

300 Trinity Campus Circle

Fort Worth, Texas 76102




Tarrant County College to Host Fort Worth Regional Science Olympiad    

FORT WORTH, Texas (Feb. 9, 2017)Tarrant County College South Campus will host the Fort Worth Regional Science Olympiad on Saturday, Mar. 4, 2017, welcoming hundreds of area middle and high school students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).


Modeled after the Olympic Games, participating teams can compete in 15 science events per division, ranging from anatomy & physiology and helicopters to wind power and optics at this qualifying competition. Teams can apply and display a wide variety of talents, from design and prototyping to technical writing and chemistry lab skills.


This is the first year the TCC South Campus will host a Science Olympiad, one of the country’s premier science competitions. The event will feature two divisions divided by grade level: Division B for middle school students (grades 6 through 8) and Division C for high school students (grades 9 through 12). An awards ceremony will follow the day-long competition. The annual Science Olympiad began in 1983 and involves more than 12,000 schools nationally.


Students will compete in challenging and motivational events that are well-balanced between the various science and engineering disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, computers and technology. There is also a balance between events requiring knowledge of facts, concepts, processes, skills and science applications.


“TCC South Campus is honored to host the Fort Worth Regional Science Olympiad through a partnership with the State Science Olympiad Office at Texas A&M University and the National Science Olympiad Office,” said TCC South President Peter Jordan. “Three South Campus divisions are collaborating to host this inaugural competition:  Business and Technology, Community & Industry Education (CIE) and Mathematics and Natural Science. The competition will feature 15 events for registered teams in the B Division (middle school) and C Division (high school).”


Science Olympiad is a nonprofit organization developed to improve the quality of science education, increase student interest in science and provide recognition of outstanding achievement in science education by both students and teachers. Their ever-evolving line-up of events in all STEM disciplines exposes students to practicing scientists and career choices, and energizes classroom teachers with a dynamic content experience.


Winners from the regional competition go on to compete in state and national Science Olympiads. In Texas, the state competition will be held at Texas A&M University in College Station.


For more information about the regional competition or to learn how  to register schools to compete this year or next year, please contact Erika Zimmermann at 817-515-4157 or visit http://www.tccd.edu/academics/cie/lifelong-learning/youth-programs/fw-regional-science-olympiad/


Traveling World War I Museum Visits TCC’s Northwest Campus in Honor of War’s Centennial

Tuesday, Feb. 14 – Friday, Feb. 17
TCC Northwest Campus (4801 Marine Creek Pkwy., Fort Worth), WSTU 1305

FORT WORTH, Texas (February 8, 2017) – As the United States marks 100 years since it entered World War I, a special exhibit is making a stop at Tarrant County College. The community is invited to visit the WWI 100th Anniversary Mobile Museum Feb. 14 through Feb. 17 at Northwest Campus. TCC is the first college to host the museum, which is in the middle of a four-year tour to commemorate World War I’s centennial (2014 to 2018).
The mobile museum, curated by Dallas historian Keith Colley, tells the story of the “War to End All Wars” and spotlights the life of Ernest Loucks. Loucks served in the U.S. Army and kept a variety of artifacts, many of which are part of the display. A tool used to help dig 25,000 miles of trenches dug in World War I; a movie camera on which soldiers filmed images from battle; British and American gas masks and two rare pigtail stakes that held barbed wire, used as a new form of warfare are included in the exhibition.
“This is a unique opportunity to gain a greater respect for our veterans who served in a conflict that truly changed the world,” said Laura Matysek Wood, Ph.D., professor of history and government. “Without any living World War I veterans, it is more important than ever to preserve and share this history.”
The exhibit is open to the TCC students, faculty and staff as well as the public. Admission is free. The museum will be set up in WSTU 1305. Hours are:
• Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 14 and 15, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Thursday, Feb. 16, 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
• Friday, Feb. 17, 9:30 a.m. to noon.
For more information on the WWI 100th Anniversary Mobile Museum, visit ww1mobilemuseum.com. Details on the TCC exhibition are available from Laura Matysek Wood at laura.wood@tccd.edu or 817-515-7280.

TCC Announces Spring Fine Arts and Visual Arts Events

FORT WORTH, Texas (Jan. 31, 2017) In keeping with its commitment to excellence in the arts, Tarrant County College offers a variety of opportunities to enjoy dance, drama and music events and visual arts exhibits during the spring semester.
Those Before Me opens Feb. 16 and runs through Feb. 18 at the Joe B. Rushing Center for Performing Arts at the South Campus, 5301 Campus Drive. Researched and performed by TCC students, the drama honors women’s history. TCC students, faculty and staff attend free of charge. General admission is $5. Show times are 7:30 p.m. nightly.
The Festival of New Plays features three award-winning, 10-minute plays written by students who submitted their work in a playwriting competition last fall. Opening on February 22 and running through Feb. 24 at the C.A. Roberson Theatre at the Southeast Campus, 2100 Southeast Parkway, Arlington, festival performances are 7:30 p.m. nightly. A matinee at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 24 will highlight an expanded version of MetAMORfosis, by Carlos Romero, last year’s first-place winner in the competition. The play will be performed at the Region 6 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in March. Tickets for the Festival of New Plays are free to TCC students, faculty and staff, $3 for non-TCC students and senior citizens and $6 general admission.
Students have a mystery to solve when MISS NELSON IS MISSING! premieres March 1 at the Northwest Campus, 4801 Marine Creek Parkway. The play, which continues through March 5, features Miss Nelson, a teacher who is just too nice and cannot seem to control her classroom. When she suddenly disappears, her hard-as-nails substitute, Viola Swamp, has her students ready to do anything to bring Miss Nelson back. General admission is $3. Show times are 7:30 nightly and 2 p.m. on Saturday.
A diverse cross-section of music, ranging from the Middle Ages to the contemporary era, will be performed March 28 at the Northeast Campus, 828 Harwood Road, Hurst. During the concert, audience members move through four rooms, each featuring a different era’s music. The concert, which is free of charge, begins at 7 p.m.
On March 29, the Southeast Campus will host a Swing Dance and Music Benefit, which features the TCC SE Jazz Ensemble playing traditional big band swing music. Dance instructors will be available to teach basic swing dance steps. An auction of art by TCC instructors and students will take place. Additionally, art will be available for sale. Guests are encouraged to dress in the style of the 1920s. Tickets are $5 for TCC students and $10 general admission. All proceeds will go toward scholarships for SE Campus Fine Arts students studying Art, Dance and Music.
Starting April 3, the Northwest Campus presents DADA Week, a celebration of the unlimited potential of human expression. The art exhibit shows how DADA connects all areas of study, including the rational and irrational. It is an example of thinking outside of what is expected and challenges students to invent new directions of their own. The exhibit will be available in the Lakeview Gallery through April 7.
Fine Arts and Visual Arts Events – Spring 2017

Legendary Coach and Motivator Herman Boone Takes Center Stage in TCC African-American Heritage Month Celebration

Image of Herman Boone

Herman Boone

FORT WORTH, TEXAS (Jan. 31, 2017) – Retired football coach and motivator Herman Boone, whose story is captured in the Disney film, Remember the Titans, will be the featured speaker for the Districtwide Tarrant County College African-American Heritage Month program, “Celebrating Strides,”  on Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 5 to 7:30 p.m.


Boone will discuss respect, teamwork, community involvement and the importance of character at the Hurst Convention Center, 1601 Campus Drive in Hurst. Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington portrayed Boone, who in 1971 faced the challenge of a lifetime in uniting black and white players from previously rival schools in the newly created Titans football team.


Other observances sponsored by TCC campuses include a Hip Hop Summit, other guest speakers and read-ins. Events are sponsored by various campus departments including art, libraries and student activities.


On Feb. 21 the Northeast Campus, 828 W. Hardwood Rd., Hurst, will host a “Hip Hop Summit” from 12:30 to 3 p.m. The Hip Hop Summit includes a discussion of the impact hip hop has had on America, particularly on Black America, and its significant evolution in style and rhythm during the past 40 years.


Students, faculty and staff members may benefit from have free music and dance instructions from the Bandan Koro African Drum and Dance Assemble

at the Northwest Campus, 4801 Marine Creek Parkway, on Feb 23. The celebration is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Student Center, Refreshments will be served.


The Sigma Kappa Delta chapter at South Campus, 5301 Campus Drive, is sponsoring a Read-in on Feb 22 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the library. Jason Shelton, Ph.D., director of African-American Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington will speak and answer questions from the audience. Students, faculty and staff are invited to participate in the open mic event during which they may read passages from their favorite African-American writers.


Starting Feb 1, a month-long African-American Heritage Month Art Exhibit will be on display in the Art Corridor at the Southeast Campus, 2100 Southeast Parkway. The exhibit will display a visual timeline of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. along with African-American pioneers of the art community.


Author Max Krochmal will discuss his latest book, Blue Texas, Feb 23, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Tahita Fulkerson Library at the Trinity River Campus, 300 Trinity Campus Circle. Krochmal’s presentation, will cover the book’s tale of the decades-long struggle for democracy in Texas. It includes the uniting of African Americans, Mexican Americans and white labor and community activists to empower the state’s marginalized minorities.

Calendar of TCC African-American Heritage Month Events


What’s stopping you? TCC students achieve success in atypical careers

Occupation Total Employed, 2015 Number of Women (%)
Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers 408,000 6,936 (1.7%)
Police and sheriff’s patrol officers 688,000 93,568 (13.6%)
Firefighters 293,000 17,287 (5.9%)


Tarrant County College students break barriers in many ways. For some, it’s surmounting personal challenges; for others, it’s about overcoming society’s expectations. For this month’s “What’s stopping you?” feature, TCC talks to three women finding success in career fields dominated by men.
Mel Chaparro Santillan
Student, South Campus
Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Technology (HART)

TCC: What drew you to HART?
It’s something that I have always been around. My dad has worked in heating, ventilation and air conditioning as long as I can remember. My brother works with him and even my mom has worked in the field before. She’s one of two women I’ve known in the industry.
TCC:Did anyone discourage you from your career goal?
MCS: I’ve always had very positive reactions to my career choice. My family and friends have all been very supportive. My husband thinks it’s really cool. TCC encourages women in the program, and many of the professionals I’ve met encourage getting more women working in this field.
TCC: Do you see the industry evolving in that direction?
The industry is growing very quickly and the workforce is aging. It’s hard work, and you can only do it for so long before it wears you out. If more women don’t go into the field, it will be difficult to keep up with the growth.
TCC: Are there challenges you’ve experienced as a woman in this area of study?

MCS: In my classes, the guys seem a bit apprehensive or uncomfortable at first, but they get used to it. The more I open up and act normal, the more they relax. Sometimes it’s a bit physically demanding, but everything has its trick—and it helps that my dad is on the small side too, so he’s shown me how to work around that. Success comes down to knowledge and applying that knowledge, regardless of gender.
TCC: What general challenges did you overcome to get to where you are today?
MCS: I’m one of the first people in my family to finish high school, let alone go to college. That has its own set of challenges. My commute is tough; I live in Johnson County so it’s a bit of a drive. The out-of-county tuition rate and the cost for tools are not the easiest on the budget, but I think it’s worth the education and the opportunity TCC offers. I’ve also been working full time while going to school. I take my classes in the evening and don’t see my family at all during the week.
TCC: What advice do you have for students in a similar position?
MCS: You have to tell yourself that it is something that you want to do despite the hurdles and the way people will look at you. Sometimes you have to go the extra mile and maybe prove yourself more—but if you’re willing to put in the effort, gender becomes a trivial thing.
Mel Chaparro Santillan will graduate this spring with her Associate of Applied Science and two technical certificates. She plans to eventually get her contractor’s license and start her own residential installation business.
Officer Dara Young
Graduate, TCC Police Academy
Colleyville Police Department
TCC: Why did law enforcement interest you?

DY: I’ve always had a desire to help people, in any capacity. While I was working for Child Protective Services, I was drawn to the law enforcement aspect, as compared to the civil aspect.
TCC: Were you the only woman in your TCC Police Academy cadet class?
DY: I was one of 10 females in my academy class! It was the most females they had ever had in one class and it was so empowering.
TCC: Have you faced professional challenges related to your gender?
DY: Aside from carrying fellow cadets during physical training, the only challenges I faced as a female cadet were in my own head. I wanted to prove myself to everyone because it is natural for people to doubt females as officers before they would doubt males as officers. I don’t hold that against anyone; I just work harder in hopes of squashing that thought process. Feeling challenged merely because I am a female in law enforcement is not a daily thought I have. I feel challenged more as a rookie.
TCC: Did anyone discourage you from pursuing a career in law enforcement?
DY: I don’t recall anyone outwardly discouraging me, but I have received incessant disbelief. I’ve heard, “But you’re so girly!” I’ve had a woman call dispatch to confirm I was really an officer on a day I was working in street clothes with my badge and gun visibly displayed on my hip. On that same day, I had a man say, “Like a cop cop? Like a real cop? Like, you drive a cop car??” On a traffic stop, a female passenger said, “Are you driving that cop car all by yourself?? You look 16!” Whatever their intent, none of it was encouraging and none of it was flattering.

Young participating in SealFit 20xChallenge

Colleyville Police Officer Dara Young taking part in the SealFit 20x Challenge, a 12-hour endurance course hosted on Northwest Campus last fall.

TCC: What would you say to people going through that kind of challenge?
DY: Never give up! Plenty of people will doubt you, especially if it’s something against the norm, but that does not make it impossible! Women in law enforcement are such a crucial piece to the puzzle of progressing our society. Girls and young women should believe they are strong, powerful and capable of anything.
Dara Young attended the TCC Police Academy in fall 2013 as a member of Class 160. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington and is one of five female officers on Colleyville’s 43-officer force.
Janet (Jo) Onim
Graduate, TCC Fire Academy
Firefighter Paramedic, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport

TCC: Why did you become a firefighter?:
JO: I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy. I believe that played a huge role. Secondly, physical activity has always been very alluring for me. I enjoy the results, the discipline, goal setting and challenges. Firefighting put those things together. I tried Corporate America for a few years and felt like a hamster in a wheel, punching in and punching out.
TCC: You were the TCC Fire Service Training Center’s first female class captain. What was that like?
JO: The fact that within about a week of interacting with my classmates, they saw leadership potential in me was a huge honor—but more importantly, it was a great responsibility and opportunity to grow.
TCC: Are there challenges you have faced as a woman? Or does that not factor into your mindset?
JO: The fact that I am female occupies, I would say, the middle part of my mind. Never the forefront—except on the very rare occasion that someone brings it up. It does take, for me, extra effort, time and dedication to hone and condition my physical strength. The other side of the coin is the general perception. It is fun to see the surprise on the faces of people, and especially children, who meet a female firefighter.
TCC: How many female colleagues do you have?:
JO: Our employee population includes 17 female firefighters out of 189 certified firefighters, all ranks. That is nine percent of the total staffing. Since I’ve been hired, more females have joined the force than were on when I was hired, so there is definite growth. Departments are trying to encourage more females to apply.
TCC: What challenges in general do you face on the job, and how do you overcome them?
JO: The job is very dynamic; I have to be agile and adaptable. It also can take a toll on us with some of the hard calls we respond to. I have to ensure I am balanced and healthy mentally, spiritually and physically, so I can come back and do it another day. My family has been my greatest support. I am humbled and honored by them all.
TCC: What advice would you have for students who want to pursue an atypical career?
JO: This is a great country—one that affords us the ability to overcome. Be the person you were created to be. Break barriers. Crack ceilings. If indeed one feels the calling—for most of these careers involve callings—then pursue it with everything you have.

Janet Onim was part of the TCC Fire Academy’s Class 65 in spring 2012. She serves with Dallas Fort Worth International Airport’s Department of Public Safety Emergency Medical Services, Station 5. Onim holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, and a master’s degree in information science from the University of Texas at Arlington.
With more than 60 career technical education programs, TCC enables you to learn more to earn more. Career and technical education. Not Just Genuine… Texas Genuine.

This story is the latest in a series celebrating members of the TCC community who don’t let challenges stop them. Follow these links to read previous features: Salma Alvarez, Celia Mwakutuya, Jessica Caudle, Ken Moak, Melora Werlwas, Kevin Douglas and Marine Creek Collegiate High School students.

Tarrant County College Skills Training Now Available To Public through Open Enrollment

FORT WORTH, Texas (Jan. 23, 2017) – As part of its commitment to increasing the pool of skilled workers in Tarrant County, Tarrant County College now offers skills training to anyone interested through open enrollment.
Courses offered in spring 2017 include Computerized Numeric Controlled (CNC) Operator Training Program, CNC Operation Essentials, Forklift Certification and Welding. Previously, these courses only were available to incumbent workers or new hires for specific companies that partnered with TCC. Classes are offered at the TCC Opportunity Center, 5901 Fitzhugh Avenue.
Other courses include Call Center Agent Training, Leadership Skills and courses to enhance office skills is available in three levels of Microsoft Excel – Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. Leadership and computer courses are offered at TCC Corporate Training Center AllianceTexas, 13600 Heritage Parkway, Suite 100.
While credentials in any of the areas may increase employment opportunities, graduates earning multiple certificates often increase their marketability and earning potential.
Tuition ranges from $99 to $3,000 for courses that require as few as six hours or as many as 240 hours for completion.
To register and for more information, contact Stacey Bryant at stacey.bryant@tccd.edu or 817-515-2595.