Breckenridge Texan

TSTC alumna to teach new program in Breckenridge

TSTC alumna to teach new program in Breckenridge
October 04
18:00 2019

How far can a technical degree take you? For Texas State Technical College alumna Teresa Purcell, it has taken her across the world and back.

After graduating from the Breckenridge campus in 1997 as part of the inaugural Environmental Technology class, Purcell traveled the world working as an environmental technician. She has returned to her alma mater with over 20 years of experience to serve as an instructor for the new Occupational Safety Compliance Technology program in Breckenridge.

“I was one of only two girls that graduated from the pilot environmental program. After graduation I worked for a company in Dallas, then went to Utah, then to the coast, Louisiana, and even overseas in Iraq as a contractor for the military. It’s been awesome how far that degree has taken me,” Purcell said.

Purcell started teaching at the Breckenridge campus in 2016 in the Environmental Technology program. With the introduction of the new program, she will be the lead instructor on the campus.

“One of the reasons I went into this field was because it was challenging and every day was so different. I worked in hazmat, emergency response,” Purcell said. “After earning my Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training, I get to teach another side of environmental tech.”

Purcell said that as industries have transitioned to being more safety-conscious, the need for people with training in occupational safety is growing.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA has decreased worker deaths in America from about 38 worker deaths a day in 1970 to 14 a day in 2017, and worker injuries and illnesses are down from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 2.8 per 100 in 2017.

“Now that OSHA is more involved in the workplace, we see a huge decrease in workplace-related injuries,” Purcell said. “Our students will learn how to make the workplace safe on multiple levels, including everything within the workplace to what the workplace affects outside.”

TSTC Associate Provost Debbie Karl says bringing the new program to the Breckenridge campus is part of TSTC’s promise to meet industry demand.

“We brought the OSC course to Breckenridge because many of our Environmental Technology students were getting jobs in the occupational health and safety fields as health safety officers,” Karl said. “We are so lucky to have Teresa here to teach it because she is an alumna, so she’s been in these students’ shoes. She has years of experience and a passion to see these students succeed in a field that is growing.”

A student who successfully completes the five-semester program will earn an Associate of Applied Science degree.

Purcell encourages anyone interested in a program that offers a diverse career to visit the campus.

“Every company or organization needs someone with this training, so you can work in any field, from food service to oil fields,” she said. “Anyone can do it, men or women, young or old. It’s an option if you’re ready to learn.”

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Story by Sarah Trocolli/TSTC

Cutline, top photo: Teresa Purcell is a Texas State Technical College alumna who will teach the new Occupational Safety Compliance program coming to Breckenridge in Spring 2020. (Photo courtesy of TSTC)

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