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TSTC student juggles school, job and family

Ben Barkley / TSTC
Mandy Barker is enrolled in TSTC's welding technology program

Chaotic" is the best way Mandy Barker can describe her life right now.

Not only is Barker, who lives in Dublin, a student in Texas State Technical College's Welding Technology program, but she also is the general manager of a fast-food chain in Stephenville and a mother of two children.

"You can say life is very chaotic. Some days it is hard, but I am getting through it all," she said.

One of the reasons she gets through a day of school, work and family is the support system at home.

"My boyfriend really motivates me. He keeps me going," Barker said. "I know that the best result for me will be the end result in getting a welding job."

Barker said she hopes to work on the Texas oil pipelines, a field in which her boyfriend is currently employed. She said knowing a job could be on the horizon after she receives her certificate also is a motivation.

"My boyfriend helps me all the time. He has told me several times that I do not need to quit," Barker said.

Barker did have one worry before starting the program. She was hoping to see at least one other female in the welding lab.

"It was a huge relief walking into the lab the first time and I saw three other females in the class," she said. "I called my boyfriend and told him. He was excited for me, knowing that was one of my fears."

Her boyfriend also offered Barker some advice prior to the first day.

"He told me to just go and show everyone that you can do a man's job," Barker said.

While in the lab, she said all of the students help each other.

"It is a very good environment to learn in. TSTC teaches us great skills," Barker said. "I love this program. It is helping me toward a career."

She learned of TSTC's welding program while living in Brownwood. Once she decided to go to school, TSTC was her top choice.

"I knew I could get on track here with my schedule," she said. "Everyone is willing to work with you to make you successful."

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.