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Left to Right: TSTC Provost Randy Wooten, Zach Guthrie and his mother Melanie Pruett

Graduating, and doing so with honors, was the last thing Zach Guthrie ever expected to happen.

But on December 14 the 25-year-old put on his black cap and gown and excitedly received his certificate in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technology during Texas State Technical College’s Commencement Ceremony at the Rosenberg Civic Center.

“My whole life school wasn’t for me,” he said. “I didn’t even know what I wanted to study, until TSTC came into town and then things changed.”

Guthrie has now joined an alumni network that is more than 100,000 strong.

Before TSTC, the Houston native enrolled at Wharton County Junior College and soon realized that a traditional classroom with the study of theory was not for him.

“That’s not the way I learn. I am a hands-on learner,” he said. “TSTC matched my learning style.”

The Houston native first heard about TSTC when his mother, TSTC Enrollment Specialist Melanie Pruett, began working at the college.

It was after learning about the programs and doing some research that Guthrie decided to enroll in HVAC Technology.

“My dad has worked in the HVAC business for a good 30 years of his life,” said Guthrie. “Now with this certificate and the skills I have gained I can follow in his footsteps.”

Throughout his educational journey Guthrie worked late nights with United Parcel Service (UPS) and attended class during the day, which made it challenging for him to complete the program.

“I went through some rough patches, but the instructors and staff at TSTC and my family kept pushing me and encouraging me. I couldn’t have done it without their understanding and support,” he said. “They all deserve a big thank you.”

Commencement speaker Michael Dobert, owner/principal of human resource consulting firm HR in Alignment LLC and TSTC Welding Continuing Education student had a special message for graduates like Guthrie.

“Continue to learn, never stop. Be a leader in all you do by empowering and encouraging others,” said Dobert. “Finally, give more than you receive and you’ll get back more than you could ever imagine.”

He also reminded students that success out in the field is not only about technical skills, but also soft skills such as leadership, professionalism, work ethic and entrepreneurship.

“Always remember that your technical skills are just as important as your soft skills,” he told the graduates. “TSTC has provided you the educational opportunities you need for a successful career path and now the rest is up to you.”

Other speakers who shared remarks during the ceremony included TSTC Provost Randy Wooten, TSTC Field Development Officer John Kennedy and TSTC Regent Joe Gurecky.

For Guthrie and his fellow graduates, the end of this chapter means a new one begins and he hopes to find employment with local HVAC companies like Custom Comfort Air or Trane Heating and AC.

“TSTC has given me something to look forward to. I’m excited about my future now,” said Guthrie. “I’m ready to enter the workforce and use the skills I have gained, slowly move up the ladder and continue my education at TSTC for my associate degree.”

For more information on TSTC programs, to apply or register, visit

The deadline for Spring 2018 registration is January 2. 

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