There’s no place like home – TJC alumni who learned, trained and stayed in East Texas

Nov 07, 2017 by

After they cross the stage and pick up their diplomas, college graduates often leave town for parts unknown, only to return for homecoming weekends and reunions.

However, many Tyler Junior College alumni say they found their life’s work here while they were students. They trained and held internships at area businesses or in the growing medical industry, and then they decided to stay and become active contributors to the community and a boon to the local economy.

“Our students are our best investment,” TJC President Dr. Mike Metke said. “We take a lot of pride in making sure college is affordable and accessible for all of our students.

“To have them stay after they graduate and contribute locally is really the best possible outcome, plus it’s part of our mission as the community’s college.”

Rocky Coss

Rocky Coss,
TJC Class of 2010

After quitting high school his junior year, Rocky Coss later earned his GED and got a job as an in-home appliance technician for Sears.

“It was good work, but I wanted to do more for my family and knew I needed more training for that,” Coss said.

He and his wife Jennifer live in Van with their three teenage daughters.

Coss started taking classes on the TJC West Campus in 2008. In 2010, he earned certificates of proficiency in heating, air conditioning and refrigeration and commercial refrigeration.

After he was chosen to receive a scholarship from the TJC Foundation Scholarship Golf Tournament, Coss was able to continue his education and received an Associate of Applied Science degree in heating, air conditioning and refrigeration in 2010, graduating magna cum laude.

For the next few years, Coss continued working at Sears and rose through the ranks to be a technician and trainer, overseeing 280 technicians.

In 2013, he realized his dream of opening his own business, At Your Service Appliance and AC.

He also serves as a part-time professor at TJC, teaching heating and air conditioning classes back where he began, on the TJC West Campus.

In 2016, he began serving as a sponsor for the TJC scholarship golf tournament, as a way of paying forward to help the next generation of students reach their potential and make their dreams a reality.

“TJC was one of the best things that happened to me,” he said. “It was a true blessing, and now I want to pass that on and help someone else.”

Glenda Lancaster

Glenda Lancaster,
TJC Class of 2015

A few years ago, Glenda Lancaster was newly divorced, in her 40s, had only a high school diploma and had never worked outside the home.

She didn’t just want a new
life, she needed a fresh start with a promising outlook for the future.

Lancaster was drawn to the TJC surgical technology program because, she said, “It’s a very specific, detailed job that also requires having a heart for helping people. You are responsible for making sure the surgical field – the operating table, the instruments, the materials, everything –
is sterile and safe for the patient at
all times.”

She graduated from TJC in May 2015. One month later, she went to work in labor and delivery at East Texas Medical Center.

During surgical procedures, she said, her job is to keep her eyes on everything, every movement, to make sure nothing is out of place or is touched in a way that will make it unsafe for the patient.

She credits her TJC professors Sherry Seaton and Brenda Korich for their tough, yet supportive, guidance and for encouraging her to keep going, even when it didn’t seem possible.

“My experience at TJC changed everything,” she said. “Listen, I started at zero. Now, I have a great job and I don’t have to worry as much about money. And with that security and confidence, my shoulders are a little straighter and I walk with a lot more bounce than I did before. That means everything.”

Allison and Amanda Potter

Allison and Amanda Potter,
TJC Class of 2017

Twin sisters Allison and Amanda Potter graduated from Rusk High School in 2015 and were part of the second class of Rusk TJC Citizens Promise Scholars.

Established in 2014, the Rusk Promise covers two years at TJC for qualifying Rusk graduates. The Rusk TJC Citizens Promise program is a partnership between TJC, the TJC Foundation, Rusk ISD, Citizens 1st Bank and The James I. Perkins Family Foundation.

“I can honestly say that if it weren’t for the Rusk Promise, we would not have gone to college right after high school,” Amanda said. “We would have had to get jobs or go into debt with student loans.”

On May 12, the Potter sisters crossed the stage and received associate’s degrees in general studies, both graduating magna cum laude.

Amanda said, “We loved our experience at TJC. The professors were all so helpful and supportive, and always went out of their way to help. You could really tell they were pulling for us the whole way.”

Next fall, they both intend to continue their studies at TJC, training for careers in the medical field. Allison is seeking admission into the TJC radiologic technology program and Amanda has applied to the diagnostic medical sonography program.

“We hope to get jobs and become part of the medical community here,” Allison said. “We love it here. This is home for us.”



Features, Summer 2017

About the author

Elise Mullinix is Tyler Junior College's Editorial Manager. She can be reached at 903-510-2370 or at