Over sandwiches and iced tea, U.S. Congressman John Carter joined seven Killeen ISD Career Center students, along with school district and campus leaders for a firsthand look at career-focused education.

The students, all fulltime at the KISD Career Center, make up an advisory council that meets regularly with Superintendent John Craft, along with representatives from the other high schools.

During the lunchtime meeting in late January, the six seniors and one junior shared their experiences in Career and Technical Education and took the opportunity to thank a congressional leader who is a champion of CTE programs.

Students took turns explaining how they came to choose their various Career Center programs and their plans for after high school.

They unanimously praised the opportunity to learn in their specific areas of interest – welding, radio broadcasting, healthcare, business, commercial photography and automotive technology. They also painted a diverse picture of students drawn to the specialized campus.

Two compete in varsity sports. One is a state officer for the student organization Skills USA. Several hold jobs outside of school. Most have a good idea of their career path, but acknowledge they are still honing their interests.

“I support these programs because they lead to a job,” Carter said to the students and educators. “Working to work is really good and we need you.”

Senior Scotty Flores has taken maximum advantage of the automotive program and earned numerous certifications. He also worked during the summer in KISD’s transportation department, repairing and maintaining vehicles.

“I wanted them to know that CTE is really worthwhile for those who know what they want to do and even for those who don’t,” Flores said. “Anyone can fit in here.”

Junior Tristan Haynes can attest to that. He started off in a healthcare sequence, lacked interest and then was recruited to radio broadcasting. Now, Haynes is the voice of KISD’s MY 95.1 radio station and the pregame show at Buckley Stadium football games.

Senior Kendrea Broussard thought she wanted to pursue the veterinary assistantship program, but shifted to certified medical assistantship, where she has found a rigorous challenge working in nursing centers and also great reward.

Both Carter and Craft praised students’ plans to continue their education while pursuing work, noting the invaluable lessons learned on the job and the practical advantage of minimizing student debt.

“I believe in you and what you’re doing,” Carter said. “I love hearing ‘I’m going to college and I’m going to work.’”

“It makes me proud that I’m here at the Career Center,” said senior Ryan Picorelli, a business student considering the military. “Not everyone gets this opportunity. I’m learning a lot and I’m still in search of what I want to do.”

Todd Martin is an employee of the KISD communications department and writes about students, teachers and school events.

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