by: Capella Tucker, January 29, 2008 5:01:00 am
Rafael Alvarez was on the board of a charter school when he came to a conclusion about what is missing from students' education.
"And on a particular graduation night, I went down to the floor and I saw all the graduates real happy about graduating and for many of them this was truly an accomplishment so as I talked to them and asked them what they were going to do after high school almost everyone said that they were going to continue in their jobs and they were very low wage occupations."
Alvarez walked away from that night wanting to give kids the desire and skill to be a professional. He founded GeneSys Works. Students from low income neighborhoods are trained and hired to do technical services for corporations.
"These students may live ten minutes from downtown, on the east side of downtown and they may see downtown skyline everyday on their way to school, and for many of them it might as well be a postcard."
"I never expected, at least any time soon to step into an office building."
Senior high school student Jasmine Luna is taking advantage of the opportunity. Luna spent last summer training for her internship. She now is spending a year in an accounting department.
"The older people who work there they kind of find it somewhat boring, but I think it's exciting because, you know, I've never been in an office building and it's fun having your own cubicle and decorating it."
Luna says she's getting guidance she can't get at home. Her parents were born and raised in Mexico.
"They didn't make it past middle school. So for me it was very new even coming into high school because I couldn't have them telling me what to do or having them give me advice or anything."
The internship is filling that knowledge gap.
"You get to learn from your boss, you get to learn how their jobs are, you get to learn so much from just being there and watching people."
This year nearly 70 students made it through the training to be placed in internships. GeneSys Works is looking to expand that number to more than 100 in the coming year.
Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.