Career Center Competitors

KISD Career Center students headed to top competitions include, from left, Nicholas Wright, Lance Dugger, Danielle Rivera, Mariah Morales, Jordan Emilson, Ha Yeong Kim and Darius Omar Stephens.

The KISD Career Center prepares students for the real world.

Several students at the center are taking their work to the next level, competing in state and national competitions this spring. Here are a few of their projects:


Three students, members of the Texas Association of Future Educators, have already shined at the state Future Educators Association competition in San Antonio in late February. Now, they are preparing to demonstrate their skills in Minneapolis next month.

“I’m definitely excited … to be surrounded by people who want to be teachers,” said senior Lance Dugger. “We feed off each other’s ideas.”

Dugger, along with senior Jordan Emilson and junior Ha Yeong Kim, put together a project focused on combating bullying.

Their work included a large-scale service project, which saw the trio visiting schools, signing banners and receiving a $5,000 grant to bring Rachel’s Challenge, a national anti-bullying campaign, to Killeen.

“(Rachel Scott) was a great person and always promoted kindness,” Emilson said of the teen who died tragically in the Columbine shooting in Colorado, leading to the establishment of a nonprofit committed to helping students live bully-free.

In national competition, the Killeen Independent School District students will display a bullying board highlighting images of their work over the past several months.

“We want to show who was affected. It makes a big impact and involves the community. We impacted 18,000 people,” Kim said.

Dugger has planned to be a teacher since kindergarten. Today, he hopes to teach third grade. “I want to mold their futures and turn (someone) into the best possible person.”

Emilson echoed Dugger’s sentiments.

“It’s the best way to change someone’s life for the better,” he said.

Kim, too, always knew she was meant to be an educator.

“Not everyone has a role model … even if only for one kid, you make a difference,” she said.


Junior Nicholas Wright will compete at the Health Occupational Students of America state competition in San Antonio next week. HOSA is a nationwide organization for future health professionals.

Wright will be working to ace a written test on transcontinental health care. “It covers aspects of health care in other cultures,” he said. “It’s always good to learn about other people and cultures.”

He plans to become a heart surgeon. His career focus has narrowed throughout high school, from science to biology to medicine to vital organs, thanks to the KISD Career Center.

Senior Mariah Morales, also a HOSA member, designed with several classmates a public service announcement based on an assigned topic: child hunger. The PSA aired at schools across the district. They worked with nonprofit No Kid Hungry, who thought the group’s work was “amazing,” Morales said.

Now, they are preparing to sell their PSA to the judges at the state competition later this month.


“I went big and bad,” said senior Danielle Rivera of her large-scale dump truck sculpture.

The truck features a moving bed she built over the past seven months.

Rivera is taking her project to the state welding competition after winning first place regionally.

She drew inspiration from the massive monster trucks on the History Channel. “I like to build, paint, get my hands dirty,” she said. After high school, Rivera plans to study automotive collision repairs.

“Last year, I saw what needed to be done. I think I have a chance this year,” Rivera said.


Junior Darius Omar Stephens is one of several students participating in the state JROTC competition, in the physical training and color guard categories.

“I’ve been in ROTC since freshman year,” Stephens said. “I’m excited. We won the past four years at state.”

He plans to join the Air Force after studying computer science in college.

Stephens hopes to combine his two passions — the military and video games — and become a combat simulator designer for the Air Force.

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