Eight Ulster BOCES Hudson Valley Pathways Academy (HVPA) students, referred to as young scholars, are gaining a wealth of hands-on, real-world experience as interns with local manufacturers, including Fala Technologies Inc., AMETEK Rotron, Sono-Tek, Usheco, Inc., Selux Corp., and Viking Industries, Inc.
HVPA at Ulster BOCES is a Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) school, which is comprised of a six-year pathway of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) study that leads to earning an associate’s degree from SUNY Ulster and provides workforce readiness skills and connections that put graduates first in line for available positions with industry partners.
One recent HVPA graduate from the Kingston City School District, Adolfo Duarte, has recently secured a full-time job as a backend specialist at Fala Technologies Inc., the company where he interned while attending HVPA. Duarte moved along his career journey by working at a variety of entry-level positions at the Kingston-based manufacturing business, gaining industry-specific skills in areas such as packing and receiving, inventory control, parts delivery, and operating a water jet cutting machine. He is currently learning how to run a Computer Numerical Control machine.
Duarte says that attending HVPA and having the internship experience has been invaluable and he advises potential students to wholeheartedly explore the school’s offerings. He says students immediately begin developing workplace skills and knowledge that will help prepare them for success, such as learning how to write a cover letter, create a professional resume, and dress professionally, as well as how to conduct themselves on the jobsite. “This is what they like at Fala. I am motivated and when there is nothing to do, I keep busy by organizing metal, sweeping, and mopping—they don’t have to tell me,” Duarte explains. “If they asked me to do it again [go to HVPA], I would. P-TECH is the foundation of my career.”
Ulster BOCES Workplace Learning Coordinator Stephen Casa adds that the benefits of a high school internship include acquiring valuable work experience and networking and building relationships in the students’ industry of choice. “They loved him [Duarte] so much that when he graduated, they hired him full-time,” Casa says.
Duarte learned about HVPA at Ulster BOCES during his freshman year at Kingston High School, and was determined to get accepted into the P-TECH model school. He recognized the many rewards that the school’s partnerships between education and the manufacturing industry would provide. Duarte remembers the day he got the news. “They called and said I was in the program. I was very excited, and I promised I would do the program from start to finish,” he recalls.
Following in Duarte’s footsteps as interns at Fala are current HVPA young scholars Devon Ellsworth from the Rondout Valley Central School District and Brandon Pendell, Juan Neri-Ramos, and Damian Nunez, all from the Kingston City School District. Ellsworth, who has been interning at Fala since mid-July, is currently working on a job-profiling assignment with Neri-Ramos. The duo is translating the company’s job descriptions from technical jargon into simpler, more understandable language.
Ellsworth is interested in pursuing an engineering career, and is grateful to Fala Technologies for letting him work on the project. In fact, the experience has further piqued his interest in manufacturing. “Manufacturing is something that’s always interested me,” Ellsworth says. He credits the job-profiling project with exposing him to many different manufacturing positions and their various operations and responsibilities.
According to HVPA’s Principal Learner Joseph Salamone, principal at the innovative school, internships help answer the critical question all students have about, “Why do I need to know this?” Internships allow educators to “show” the answer, not just tell it. He likens the P-TECH model’s partnerships between high schools, colleges, and employers to a three-legged stool, with each leg playing a critical role in preparing students for their next stage.
“Through the work-based learning opportunities, our industry partners are demonstrating to the young scholars why they have learned what their high school and SUNY Ulster professors have taught them. In that environment, they have an authentic experience where they can refine their technical skills and find their passion,” he says.
- Hudson Valley Pathways Academy