Hudson Valley Pathways Academy Students Earn Paid Internships

When Hudson Valley Pathways Academy (HVPA) students Frank Alicandri and Katharine Navarra are on the job at Fala Technologies Inc. in Kingston, they're not just working hard. They're also building their dreams and marking a milestone for their school.

Alicandri and Navarra, both from the Rondout Valley Central School District, were recently hired for paid internship positions at Fala, making them the first HVPA students to enter the internship program.

HVPA is a P-TECH program, also known as Pathways in Technology Early College High School. The P-TECH model 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 (at no cost to the student) and gaining workforce readiness skills that put graduates first in line for available positions with industry partners. Vital partnerships with local industries provide students with mentors and workplace experience.

Alicandri, a senior at HVPA, was hired as an Inventory Control Entry Level Specialist. His responsibilities include measuring, categorizing, and organizing different custom-made fasteners such as pipe fittings, bolts, and rivets, building shelving, and filing blueprints.

Fala Technologies President Frank Falatyn said, "What Alicandri is learning in his position is all foundational. He is learning about identifying and classifying all kinds of hardware and raw materials. Even if he decided he wants to become an engineer, he'll have a jump-start in knowing all the different types of hardware."

Alicandri's position was a back-burner project that Falatyn wanted to have done but never had the resources to do until now. Falatyn went on to say how pleased he is with the quality of work Alicandri is doing. "We've had other interns from other schools but can see the difference in the quality of students. P-TECH students are more motivated. Because we are invested in the program, they know what we expect," Falatyn explained.

Alicandri said, "I'm excited to be working and making some extra cash." He currently works four hours a week at the manufacturing company. "I'm finally doing what I came here to do," Alicandri said, referencing that he is on track to graduate from high school and college one year early, and is gaining work experience.

"I always knew I was going to go to college, but I also thought I was going to have a lot of college debt," said Alicandri. He enrolled in the HVPA program because he and his parents were attracted to the free associate's degree.

Alicandri is currently applying to four-year colleges and is planning to take the SAT exam in the next few weeks. "My dream is to get into Alfred University and enroll in an engineering program," he said.

Navarra, a junior at HVPA, was selected for a paid internship as an entry-level specialist in front office operations. She said she is responsible for answering the phones, filing paperwork, job costing, and sorting the mail. One of the most challenging things she has had to do so far was to try to help the company sell an old forklift.

Navarra says she likes working in an office, which is something she never thought she'd hear herself say. "My family owns several concession stands that sell different types of carnival foods at local fairs and festivals. For a long time that's all I thought I would ever do. It's hard work but can be rewarding," Navarra explained.

"I feel like this whole P-TECH experience has given me the confidence to aim higher," Navarra said. Now she thinks she wants to become a math teacher.

Navarra is on track to graduate with her high school diploma and her associate's degree two years earlier then expected. Upon completing her associate's degree, Navarra would like to pursue an education degree at SUNY Potsdam.

When Navarra graduates, she will become the first child in her family to get a college degree. "I always knew I could do it. I just needed someone to help me achieve it."

Falatyn said being an industry partner with the P-TECH program is good for his company because it will eventually help him fill the pipeline with the next generation of workers. "I saw personality traits in both interns that are similar to some of our most senior workers at Fala Technologies. I'm hoping that equates to future long-term employees."

"At HVPA, our purpose is twofold. We not only provide our students with real-world work experiences so they can enter their career path seamlessly and achieve success, but we also act as a conduit for businesses looking for work-ready employees," said HVPA Principal Peter Harris. "Success is ensured because secondary educators, colleges, and industry leaders have worked together to build this program of study."