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Students exposed to career paths with area industry giants (w/video)

By Carolina Astrain
Jan. 18, 2014 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 17, 2014 at 7:18 p.m.


WHAT IS STEM?

The term STEM education is connected to the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Policymakers at the federal level have taken a strong interest in supporting STEM education. Annual federal appropriations for STEM education range between $2.8 billion and $3.4 billion.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Watching his parents make their way through college inspired high school junior Ricky Medrano to start thinking about his future.

Ricky listened intently as a community affairs representative from Alcoa talked to him about studying chemical engineering.

Alcoa, one of the largest producers of aluminum in the world, has an operations location in Point Comfort - about a 40-minute drive from Victoria.

The Victoria East High School student was at the Dream Big STEM Expo, an event aimed at educating students and parents about what career options there are in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

"Some people struggle a lot, and I don't really want to be that way," said Ricky, 16. "I want to be able to find stability to support myself and eventually a family, and I can't do that by working a dead-end job, - no offense, McDonald's."

His mother is studying to become a registered nurse, and his father is working on earning a business degree, Ricky said.

"They're role models for me," Ricky said. "I see them studying all the time and striving to become what they want to be."

Several industry giants including Invista, Caterpillar and area law enforcement took part in the two-day event hosted by the Victoria Business and Education Coalition and the Alcoa Foundation.

Each Victoria school district middle school visited the expo, which was held in the Victoria College Health Science Building on Jan. 10 and 11.

With the changes to the state's new graduation requirements, Victoria Business and Education Coalition Executive Director Lanell Mantey said the event was also used to inform middle school students about what courses they should be taking in high school.

The state's new graduation requirements include selecting one of five endorsement tracks - science, technology, engineering and math; business and industry; public services; arts and humanities or multidisciplinary studies.

"We want to get them prepared for high school registration," Mantey said. "Kids have a lot of options in this area."

Sylvia Medrano was at the event's parent night with her son, Jacob Medrano, perusing the tables.

"He says he wants to go to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, but I keep asking him about what his plan B and C are going to be," Medrano, 54, said. "He needs to be able to expand his horizons, and maybe here, he'll get a better idea of what he wants to do."

After the event, she and her son started looking at University of Houston-Victoria as a possible backup school to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi because of its affordability and psychology program, Medrano said.

"It was certainly a beneficial event," Medrano said.

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