Valley native earns place at national conference

HARLINGEN — One impressive business proposal and it’s off to California.

Alex Torres has earned a position, one of only 10, at the Ford Next Generation Learning National Conference in October.

“I’m going to be talking about the Ford NGL program and how it’s benefitted me,” said Alex, 15, who will be a sophomore at Harlingen High School.

“The main thing is how instead of just learning from a book you can use that knowledge,” he said.

At the conference, Alex will talk about how Ford NGL programs have benefitted him. Those programs have included hands-on projects such as the Heroes for Harlingen Shark Tank finale May 24. Shark Tank was an event in which students from the Cano Freshman Academy presented their projects for judging.

Alex and classmates Isaiah Molina and Jyammari Moore proposed a system for recycling rain water. They presented their project “Upstream Water Filtration” to five judges.

Their proposal aimed to redirect rainwater from one area where it was killing the grass. By the plan devised by Alex and his classmates, the water could be directed to an underground system. It would go through a filtration system and be used in sinks and water fountains.

So impressed were the judges the students took third place.

Alex then entered a competition to attend the conference October 18 – 21. He had to make a video in which he talked about his project and how the Ford NGL program had impacted his school and personal life. The Harlingen school district was delighted to learn that Alex would represent the school community at the conference.

“I was very happy to be one of the first from South Texas to have done it,” Alex said. “A lot of people submitted a video. I feel very lucky.”

Superintendent Art Cavazos congratulated Alex on his accomplishment.

“This all stemmed from his participation in Shark Tank,” Cavazos said. “He did extremely well and presented his concept and ideas very well. The whole idea of him moving on to the national NGL competition makes us extremely proud.”

Alex is only one of 10 winners of the #IAMFORDNGL creative video contest from across the country. He believes his video won because of the extensive amount of work he put into it.

“I had to write the script in two days,” he said. “It was hard saying it all. I had a tech guy helping me.”

Alex’s mother, Gregoria Torres, said she and her husband are extremely proud of him.

“It was very unexpected,” she said. “We knew that he had entered a competition, but he did it for the experience. He didn’t know that he was going to get selected. It was a shock.”

She referred to various criteria Alex had to meet to attend the conference, including activities he’s still doing. Alex confirmed he still has projects on which he’s working and will continue to do so until the event in October.

Rebecca Jennings, Cano Academy English teacher, said activities like Shark Tank and the Ford NGL allow learning to become more real to the students.

“I was very impressed with how involved Alex got in the project,” she said. “Shark Tank has been a very positive project. I think for students such as Alex this will open the door to so many new opportunities.”