TSTC Industrial Systems student awarded Professional Women in Building scholarship

ABILENE Betty Lou Catalan listened to her boyfriend’s advice.

Paul Balinger, who is Catalan’s boyfriend as well as one of her Texas State Technical College Industrial Systems classmates, encouraged her to apply for a Professional Women in Building Abilene Chapter scholarship.

“It was a nice surprise,” Catalan said of receiving the $1,500 scholarship during a May 2 ceremony at the Abilene Country Club.

Balinger remembered that when he was a student at Roscoe Collegiate High School, he was encouraged to apply for as many scholarships as possible to increase his chances of getting one.

“Betty and I wanted to put that theory to the test,” he said in a news release.

“I am glad I listened to him,” Catalan said.

During her acceptance speech, Catalan said the scholarship will help her complete her Associate of Applied Science degree at TSTC.

“I hope to be of service helping people within my community and surrounding areas very soon,” she said.

Catalan thanked Angie Thornton, the scholarship committee chairperson of the Professional Women in Building Abilene Chapter, for awarding her the scholarship. The chapter is affiliated with the Big Country Home Builders Association.

Thornton said Catalan is the type of student that the organization seeks to recognize with scholarship funds.

“Betty is a stellar example of our goal of assisting our local students with affordability in gaining skills in a trade or a degree in higher education, with the hopes that they will come back to the Big Country and be an asset to not only our community, but our local homebuilding industry,” Thornton said in the release.

Daniel Diaz, one of Catalan’s Industrial Systems instructors, agreed.

“She embodies hard work and dedication,” he said. “It means a lot for her to receive this scholarship.”

Catalan said studying Industrial Systems is the correct career path for her.

“I met Mr. Diaz for a tour, and I was sold on this program and this building,” she said. “Look at all of the ‘toys’ I get to play with in learning my trade.”

Catalan and Balinger are on track to graduate next fall, but their journey with TSTC will not end there. They plan to enroll in Mechatronics Technology, which is offered exclusively at the Harlingen location.

“I really like what TSTC has to offer,” Catalan said.

The need for industrial machinery mechanics will increase over the next few years. According to onetonline.org, such positions were expected to grow by 35% in Texas between 2020 and 2030. The average salary for an industrial machinery mechanic in Texas is $60,480, according to the website.

In the Industrial Systems program in Abilene, TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems – Mechanical Specialization and several certificates of completion.

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, visit tstc.edu/mbg.

Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. Learn more at tstc.edu.