College and Career readiness is about preparing students for post-secondary success. Vela MS is providing a college-like atmosphere throughout campus and empowering students with the essential skills needed in high school and beyond.
The college culture at Vela radiates from the university flags displayed in the school cafeteria to the field trips taken to college campuses, but the way in which Vela upholds the tradition of college and career success is by setting high expectations for its students.
“They make sure we are all going to go to college and that we are all going to do amazing in life,” eighth-grade student David Cavazos said. “They really stress the importance of actually having a profession in the future, not just a job.”
Students begin preparing for college and a career in middle school through rigorous coursework that teaches the fundamentals for high school success.
“It’s best to start now rather than later. I don’t want to go to high school without knowing what I want to be,” eighth-grade student Regina Euzebio said. “I think that Vela classes in general such as Spanish, Algebra 1, and even the extracurricular activities they offer really help us understand what we want to do in college.”
Along with fundamental classes, seventh and eighth-grade students take college and career focused classes such as Career Portals. The class allows them to conduct research regarding possible career choices and partake in interactive programs that let them explore all the avenues available to them after high school.
“I have always had a thing for UCLA,” eight-grade student Liam Thomas Gilloon said. “That is one college that I have always wanted to go to and the Career Portals class at Vela has really prepared me by letting me use different programs like Naviance and Achieve Texas where I am able to research about the careers that I want. These programs recommend careers to take and tell us which colleges have the best programs.”
Through their research in Naviance and Achieve Texas, students get a first-hand look at what life after college would look like. After answering a series of questions that determine their skills and interests, students can see a list of career choices that might interest, then they have the opportunity to further investigate each profession. They also work on other activities such as creating sample budgets for college and other expenses according to their estimated income.
The immense support students receive from their teachers, staff and administration on campus allows them to stay on task and reach their goals.
“I am trying to instill in them the skills of independence, perseverance, dedication, and professionalism,” Career Portals teacher Alfonso Munoz said. “When you run into a roadblock, that doesn’t mean you stop, that means you find a way to go around it, over it, or you get through it somehow. That’s what I’m trying to teach them.”
For some students, the drive for success can be influenced by family, but the will to succeed must ultimately come from each individual student.
“I want to be very successful,” eight-grade student Alexandra Zetina said. “Some of my family wasn’t able to go to college so I am going to be the one to step forward and take that opportunity. All the opportunities that I can get, I am going to take.”
Students take the skills learned in Career Portals and put them into practice in other classes throughout middle school and high school, each day developing them into life-long skills that will, one day, be taken into the workforce.
“The students here are hungry for knowledge,” Munoz said. “They all seem to have that college mentality. They know that they are going to a college, a university, or even a two-year school. They know they are going somewhere and that is the cool thing.”