Speakers aim to empower Harlandale Alternative Center students

Speakers aim to empower Harlandale Alternative Center students
Posted on 10/20/2017

Six dynamic speakers will visit the Harlandale Alternative Center (HAC) this fall to inspire students to find their academic and career path.

For HAC Student Transition Coordinator Steven Sippel, it was important to invite these speakers because they offer students a real-life view into different career choices that they may not know exist.

“Students at HAC are oftentimes kids that don’t have the same opportunities to access community members in different career fields as others do,” Mr. Sippel said. “As a campus serving at-risk students, we are encouraged to think outside the box and provide experiences and opportunities that they may not have in the larger campus setting.”

The students heard from Susan Pope, director of the Southwest Research Institute’s Space Instrumentation Department in Space Science and Engineering, on Oct. 13 and learned about a range of projects her team is working on.

“Our kids were able to get a first-hand look at CYGNSS cyclone satellite data from Hurricane Harvey – data that only a few people in the United States had seen up until last Friday! – and were exposed to a number of other space-related projects they were currently collaborating with the European Space Agency and NASA,” Mr. Sippel explained.

Pope also discussed careers in engineering and space science, how students could get started in those fields, and the challenges, successes and mindset she experienced as a woman coming up through college into a scientific field populated primarily by men. With her story and experience, she offered students a different outlook on career choices that are available to them. 

 “It shows our kids that there are opportunities out there with all kinds of backgrounds and interests,” Mr. Sippel added. “HAC is a school that emphasizes new beginnings and alternate pathways to success, and our speakers will give a lot of this to our kids! Ultimately, anything we do on the HAC campus is designed to improve the lives and social and academic outcomes of our students.”

Future speakers include the United States Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigations. They will talk about the operations against counterfeiting in South Texas, cyber intelligence and language translation operations against foreign intrusion, as well as career opportunities for students and how many high school classes can get them started along that path.

Overall, the mission of the Alternative Center is to instill confidence and self-worth by teaching meaningful social and coping skills with our students in order to develop quality learners and contributing community members. 

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