• December 11, 2019

Internships open NTO students’ eyes to careers - Odessa American: Education

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Internships open NTO students’ eyes to careers

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Posted: Sunday, December 1, 2019 5:00 am

As she does every year, George H.W. Bush New Tech Odessa senior facilitator Valentina Rivera is keeping it real for students their senior year.

They are required to participate in internships and do a capstone project, which this year is a way to give back to the community and leave a legacy. The class is called project-based research design and it lasts for a year.

The internship is four Fridays in October and November and it is their first step toward graduation. The students have to do their own leg work to find spots for themselves, and if they run into difficulties Rivera can help them.

The internships are paired with the students’ career paths.

Seniors Carina Granado, Jose Ortega and Jose Pintor recently talked about their experiences. Granado wants to go into the medical field; Ortega wants to be an academic researcher; and Pintor wants to be a forensic analyst in law enforcement.

Granado was paired with fellow senior Clarissa Garcia, who also wants to pursue a medical career. They interned in the surgical department at Medical Center Hospital.

Ortega said he was interested in history and looked around for where he could do an internship.

He found professors at the University of Texas Permian Basin including Ana Martinez-Catsam, associate professor and head of the graduate program for history; her husband, history professor Derek Catsam, and Associate Professor of History Roland Spickermann.

“I was just interested in history and I was looking around where I could possibly internship and I eventually found Dr. Martinez. I sent an email to her, and within a few hours, she said I’d be interested in doing an internship with you. She gave me a schedule. I mostly just reached out for whoever was offering internships in the history department,” Ortega said.

He said he found out where various offices like financial aid and admissions are and how going into research means you have to be specialized.

Pintor learned from the Texas Rangers, Department of Public Safety and the forensics lab.

“The internships give us a quick overview of what we’re going to be doing if we do follow the career path we want. It just kind of summarizes, a little bit, what the work is going to be like and the activities involved,” Pintor said.

Granado has always wanted to be a doctor and has settled on becoming a surgeon. Even seeing an amputation didn’t put her off.

“… Ever since I was a little girl, I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t want to be in the healthcare field. But as I got older, the interest in surgery kind of grew. We were in the room, not behind the glass but we were in the room with the surgeons. We saw all the action. It’s very valuable, very unique. Being a high school senior and to see stuff like that in the career field that I want to go into is very, very special. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was very thankful to get one of those,” Granado said.

One of the things she realized doing the internship was that surgeons have to stand for hours sometimes.

“That is one aspect of the job I’m going to have to prepare for because it was a physical exertion. There was lots of standing, back pain, foot pain. It was exhausting. There was one surgery that I sat on in our internship was around four or five hours and we stood for four to five hours on that same surgery,” Granado said.

Going from blood and gore to research, Ortega said he saw different things with each professor he was paired with, learned steps to becoming a teacher, what a researcher does, got advice on going to college and where to find the financial aid and admissions offices and how those offices work.

Growing up, Pintor said he always wanted to be a lawyer, but he found forensics more appealing because it’s hands on and he would be involved in determining a defendant’s guilt or innocence.

Granado said her internship was the greatest experience she’s had in her life.

“… It was basically just a little glimpse into what I think my future could hold and I really liked it. It was bizarre and adrenaline rushing for sure. The first day I got to see some of the most gruesome things that a surgeon can do and I didn’t flinch. I thought something was broken in me because all the doctors kept asking me are you sure you’re OK? You don’t need to sit down? … I was like no I’m fine. I was just enjoying it. It was fascinating to me,” she said.

Ortega said he’s been interested in history since he was a young boy.

Pintor was drawn to becoming a lawyer, in part, because he enjoys arguing.

“I’m really stubborn. Even if I know I’m wrong, I won’t give up,” Pintor said.

“I just always wanted to be in the justice system, make sure everything goes how it should be; no unfairness going on. That’s where the lawyer came in. Then I thought it was more interesting if I could find the stuff that proves their innocence or their guilt. It’s just more hands-on too. A lawyer would just read or analyze something …,” Pintor said.

Principal Gerardo Ramirez said project-based research design has been offered since 2014.

“And she (Rivera) was very intentional about making sure they had the choice and that they did the legwork, like she said, to find a placement. And of course, if they struggle finding a placement Ms. Rivera will step in. But I think it was very meaningful for them to find a placement,” Ramirez said.

Rivera said that was what made the experience genuine.

“The internship is the first step of the capstone, so they’re actually now working on building a community project for the end of the year. One of the things that I’ve asked them to do is to do (a) project that is actually going to give back to the community; to leave a legacy,” Rivera said. “That’s one of the things I started last year. I’ve asked all of my seniors to invite some underclassmates to join in building these projects so that it can continue on for years.”

Pintor is planning a fun day for Harmony Home that will include face painting and a movie night. Any funds left over will go to Harmony Home for anything the children need, he said.

Granado said she and Garcia are hoping to work with Pink the Basin to create a color run in the name of breast cancer awareness.

“And we’re hoping that any money raised from that color run fundraiser will go toward vouchers for women who can’t really afford breast screenings, as well as making a pamphlet on the importance of getting breast cancer screenings,” Granado said.

Ortega said he will be working with the Crisis Center of West Texas to make a video addressing problems like drug abuse and physical violence for people who need help.

Rivera said capstone project presentations will be April 2.

“That’s one thing I tell them is they have to have the passion for this type of project so that they can foresee and actually go through the motions of building everything and actually celebrating the product at the end,” Rivera said.

Rivera added that she is grateful to the Odessa community for opening their doors to the NTO students.

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