STC EMT instructor nationally recognized for over 20 years of service
South Texas College Instructor Janelle Billings was recently recognized by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) for achieving 20 consecutive years of National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) certification, a distinction held by few.
With nearly three decades of experience as a paramedic and educator, South Texas College Instructor Janelle Billings was recently recognized by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) for achieving 20 consecutive years of National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) certification, a distinction held by few.
Her remarkable career began when she made history as the first female graduate from STC's EMS program, marking a significant milestone as part of the college’s second-cohort.
“Even though this is a 20-year recognition, I became an EMT 30 years ago, but back in 1994, we were only required to hold a state certification,” explained Billings. “Ten years later I found myself not only taking the national registry exam, but also learning how to help my students prepare for it.”
For EMS professionals, obtaining a national registry certification means they can take their skills and work as paramedics almost anywhere in the country.
Despite being interested in becoming a paramedic since childhood, the Utah native initially pursued an education degree in Idaho where she met her husband who is now a beloved math teacher at La Joya High School.
“I was seven years old when I watched a medical show that made me fall in love with paramedicine, so I always knew the medical field was for me,” said the 59-year-old. “After giving up on education and moving to the Rio Grande Valley in 1988, I became a Certified Nursing Assistant and explored that profession for quite a few years, but it wasn’t for me. I was grateful to STC for opening up this program.”
While raising two young children, Billings earned her basic EMT certificate in 1994 and immediately started her career with Frontline EMS, a McAllen-based ambulance company that provides transportation services.
With a flexible schedule that allowed her to balance motherhood, work and school, she later graduated with an EMT/Paramedic associate degree and became part-time faculty for STC shortly after.
“Having the opportunity to work with former students has been my favorite part of this job,” she reminisced. “Running into them in the field and seeing how STC has shaped them into skilled paramedics has been a rewarding experience.”
Billings’ extensive career includes 18 years of service at Edinburg EMS.
Having the opportunity to work with former students has been my favorite part of this job. Running into them in the field and seeing how STC has shaped them into skilled paramedics has been a rewarding experience.
During that time, she also continued her education, adding a couple more associate degrees to her arsenal in Social Sciences/Psychology and Criminal Justice, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at Brownsville in 2012.
"It took me 12 years to embark on my professional journey because, at 18 years old, I didn't feel mature enough. Similar to many others, I was that student struggling with failed classes," she shared. "That experience has helped me connect with dual credit or fresh out of high school students, guiding them into becoming not only skilled professionals, but compassionate individuals ready to handle challenging scenarios."
As STC celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, Billings often reminisces about the growth of the college and the way the profession has changed throughout the years.
"It's been incredible to see the program and our facilities grow and evolve. Undoubtedly, we stand at the forefront of today’s technology," she remarked. "And the science too; there are some practices that we don’t do anymore because science has taught us better. Back in my days, we would practice on each other, but now at STC we have medical manikins to practice on, Intravenous IV training arms, prop medicine – truly the best tools available.”
By maintaining her national, state and instructor credentials through continuing education classes, among other requirements, Billing’s dedication and passion for the profession has played a crucial role in the program's growth and success.
"Having been part of the program for many years, she has shown tremendous growth within the profession. Her creative ability has proven to be an invaluable asset to our department and the college. We would be lost without her," expressed EMS Program Chair Carlos Tello, who was once one of Billings' instructors at STC.
Billings credits her enduring career success to instructors like him, and takes pride in being part of the transformative journey in the lives changed through the college.
“While a student, I loved that my instructors were dedicated to the practice and saw in me the ability to teach and brought me in. I have tried to replicate their passion and commitment during my time as an instructor,” she said.
Billings proudly added that it has been an honor to witness numerous paramedic students take their knowledge as a valuable steppingstone toward successful medical careers as doctors, nurses or firefighters.
"I truly believe this college stands out because at STC, it's not just about education; it's about nurturing talent and skills. Whether it's one semester or two years, we provide opportunities for all students to develop their trades and secure well-paying jobs."
For more information on STC’s Emergency Medical Services or other Nursing and Allied Health programs, visit nah.southtexascollege.edu or call 956-872-3100.