Career and Technical Education: An Engine for the America Dream•
Career and technical education changed my life. I attended Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical (GNBVT) High School in Massachusetts. It has a large, diverse, and motivated student body. Career and technical education is the way of the future and Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech is on the forefront of building tomorrow’s workforce. I truly believe GNBVT, and places like it, are where the American Dream comes alive. Whether it’s the hope of becoming a world-class trades worker, the aspiration to serve others, or the ambition and preparation to pursue higher education, my high school is a community made up of doers, thinkers, and dreamers.
My high school experience started with an exploratory program. I was able to try nine fields including: culinary, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, engineering, and media technology. During each exploratory period, I was introduced to the basic aspects of the field and complete projects like making my own pasta in culinary and basic 2D animations in media technology. I was graded in each and my ultimate score would determine what I could select as my field for the rest of my high school career.
The exploratory program ended and it was time to choose. I have never had a tougher choice in my life. I remember feeling empowered because I was able to go with my passion and explore new interests. Ultimately, I selected and was placed in media technology. I learned how to shoot and edit digital video, served as class president, was placed in three internships that led to jobs after graduation, took dual enrollment classes at my local community college, and won awards at national competitions for broadcast news journalism.
I enrolled at UMass Dartmouth after graduating from high school and most recently became the first in my family to graduate from college. My time at GNBVT taught me the necessary professional and technical skills to succeed in college and beyond. More students and the economy can benefit from career and technical education. The Opportunity Nation Coalition and Opportunity Leaders have long championed the the importance of career and technical education and pushed Congress to work on updating the current law. We must continue to prioritize CTE to fill the skills gap, provide individuals with alternatives to college, and build successful communities. With the introduction of a bill to reauthorize the current career and technical education law in the House of Representatives, I am hopeful that Congress will continue to push to finish this work before the end of this year.