P-TECH Program Honors Community Mentors

     Published on 6/1/15   Tagged under:    District News   

“I’ve always played with phones and computers—instead of toys,” ITC freshman Jo’sada Pacheco explained. “I want to be an electrical engineer one day, because I’ll get to work with computers and software for my career!”
Through her school’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program, Jo’sada and her classmates experience elements of high school, college and the real world, all leading them toward a degree in electrical or mechanical engineering. This path includes taking college classes, gaining professional work experience and being matched with corporate mentors. The program allows students to earn a high school degree, as well as an Associate’s Degree from Onondaga Community College, in five or six years.
Freshman Williams DeJesus, who is working toward his Mechanical Engineering degree, said the degree and work experience are appealing. “I’m glad I entered the program, because I’ll be able to advance into the field of biomedical engineering, where I want to work,” he explained.
This forward thinking is what most impresses some of the program’s professional mentors. Walter Dengos is a Community & Customer Jurisdictional Manager at National Grid and has worked numerous times with the P-TECH students, noting that he has brought in utility items like switches and boxes for students to see. He has also worked with them on building a resume.
James Branche, a Recruiting Manager at United Radio, has brought students on a tour of the United Radio facility and taught them about electrical engineering. “These kids are great—so intelligent. The technology they can use at their age and ability level, compared to what I could do at their age, is incredible” he exclaimed. Mr. Branche noted that he also appreciated the opportunity to show students that they don’t have to leave Syracuse to find jobs in the engineering field.
This year’s corporate mentors also include professionals from Community Activists, G.A. Braun, Equipment Companies, Hayner Hoyt, Lifetech, Lockheed Martin, Marquardt Switches, Midstate Spring, RockTenn, Selflock Screw Products Co., Syracuse University and Tech Bridge. To honor these individuals and celebrate their ongoing support for the program, P-TECH students hosted an appreciation dinner.
"Through working with the mentors this year, students have gained invaluable experiences and knowledge,” P-TECH English teacher and Instructional Coach Kate Liddle said. “The mentors helped students learn about professionalism in the workplace and the opportunities that await them upon completion of the P-TECH program."
Mentors were able to mingle with students, watch a thank you video produced by ITC media communications students, and enjoy a sit-down meal. The mentors will continue their relationship with students over the summer, as they take part in a two-week summer bridge program, presenting a project for which students will need to develop a solution.
While mentors were honored to participate in the event, they noted the benefit they gained from students as well. “It’s enlightening to see students interested in their future and seeing themselves being successful,” Mr. Dengos said. “This program is a nice opportunity. I do a lot of STEM work and I understand the value of helping someone and seeing them grow. It’s valuable for the students to see someone who has perspective, who cares and can help them. I’ve learned a lot about where their heads are. I want to help them get a step or two ahead. I give them credit for wanting and applying themselves to this experience.”
Thank you to all of our dedicated community mentors for your support of these bright students! 

Click through our Flickr album to see images from the Mentor Appreciation Dinner >>>