November 19, 2021 by HCDE-Texas
Trade professions and various career pathways were on full display this week as Highpoint School East held its annual College and Career Day.
Over 100 adjudicated or expelled youth enrolled at the school had the opportunity to explore and develop career plans during the all-day event.
“I was looking forward to [this day] because I’m a senior and I’m a little bit behind in school, so I was trying to find out things for my career plan,” said Rosalie Jaimes, a senior from Goose Creek Memorial High School. “I found a lot of good help. I got the answers that I wanted today for college because I don’t know where to start yet. I really want to be [an EMT]! I’m going to put my mindset to be one.”
The event featured nearly two dozen vendors, including first responders, military recruiters, trade professionals such as barbers, welders and roofers, and universities and community colleges, who advised students on the opportunities certain career pathways or educational institutions could provide.
“I need my scholars to really be exposed to all that which is available to them. Having the opportunity to do that, it really melts my heart,” said Principal Courtney Waters. “They come to us with difficult and challenging pasts, and what we have found, a lot of times is that they really haven’t been exposed to the opportunities.”
The day also included guest speaker Sgt. Jeremy Lahar from Houston Police Department’s public affairs division who spoke about overcoming obstacles to success.
“I just wanted to let them know that somebody that looks like them, that may be from a neighborhood that they may be growing up in, has accomplished a couple of things,” said Lahar. “I want to let them know that they are more than capable of doing the same thing. I don’t want them to be a victim of their circumstances.”
Waters ensured that students had the opportunity to explore fields in which they had expressed interest.
“We focused a lot of our vendors on trades,” said Waters. “We surveyed our students, and not too many were really interested in a traditional four-year program. We really wanted to tailor our vendors based on their needs. We also want to ensure that we offered different opportunities.”
On Tori Cole’s STEM bus, a converted city passenger bus that houses STEM activities like computers and video games, including Oculus virtual reality headsets, Cole spoke to students about the prospect of developing video games and selling them for a profit.
For some students, the day was a dignified reminder that their enrollment at Highpoint is only a steppingstone.
“[My favorite part of the day] was just the way people were talking to me. I’ve never really been talked to as an adult,” said Alan Guerrero, a junior from Barbers Hill ISD. “I really appreciate them doing this for us. It’s an alternative school, you know. We did a bunch of things to get in here, but I appreciate them still treating us like human beings and not like we’re in jail.”
“The sky is the limit. The sky is always the limit. Our past never defines our future. I tell my scholars that all the time,” she said.