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San Antonio Student Discusses Value of ACE Mentor Program

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The following is a blog written by a student at John Jay Science and Engineering Academy in San Antonio, who took part in the A.C.E. (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) Mentor Program, which mentors and inspires high school students to pursue careers in design and construction.

My name is Maricela Casanova, and my involvement in the Architectural Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program has greatly impacted my life by positively altering my plans for the future and leading me to the direction that helped me discover my passion for designing, building structures, and helping and working with others. In my first year I was exposed to the way the architectural, construction, and engineering fields worked together to bring life to a structure’s blueprints. Through ACE, I was able to visit architecture and engineering firms, as well as a construction site where we were given protective wear and the opportunity to see how each profession’s contribution for a project comes together at a job site.

We are fortunate because our school district allowed our ACE team to visit Northside’s Olympic size pool while it was under construction. It was an unbelievable sight. We learned about the dangers of a job site and how strong the communication between the job site, the client and the project manager has to be for a successful project, to remain in the career and for future jobs. We also learned that keeping clients happy leads to a good reputation. This is an important factor because it encourages clients to return for future jobs which provide work for these industries. This year in ACE my knowledge of these fields has been further expanded. I have learned about the education and tests required to become a professional as well as the growing number of renovated areas in San Antonio that are being modernized and made community friendly, such as the downtown area. The stories of our mentors that lead them into these professions were inspirational and helped me believe that I can one day become a professional in the architectural engineering field. The exposure I have received through the ACE Mentor Program has been a blessing because it has helped direct me in the career direction that I am passionate about.

The Science and Engineering Academy at John Jay offered me opportunities to explore my curiosities about different fields, everything from computer science, engineering, architecture, music, and the medical field. Through the courses I took, the academic research I conducted through science fair and the Architectural Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program, and the internship I took in the summer for 3 years, I discovered my passion constructing model structures, working with others, and serving my community.

My activities connected my passion to the architectural and engineering fields and were further juxtaposed by my extra-curricular activities and school involvement. As vice-president for our mariachi, I help others with learning their music and perform for community events. My efforts earned me a position in the all-city Mariachi Corazon de San Antonio, where I serve my community by conserving our city’s culture. As part of our magnet program, mariachi, and band, I motivate middle-school students to study music and pursue a higher education. I competed in science fair where I built and tested 10 different manila folder truss bridges and received Best in Category at our local fair, Honorable Mention in the state fair, and Best Exhibit at the regional fair. My involvement in ACE introduced me to and gave me the opportunity to work with professionals in the field on a yearlong project. My activities have greatly impacted my life by positively altering my plans for the future, and leading me to the direction that helped me realize my passion for designing, building structures, helping and working with others.

NHS and For the Kids (FTK), where I organized fundraisers for kids with cancer, have further offered opportunities to serve my community from building homes in Habitat for Humanity to cleaning the beach at Corpus Christi. I occupied my summers with internships and university programs that led me into the careers I found most interesting. The Pre-freshmen Engineering Program (PREP) and the Voelker Biomedical Research Academy Program at the University of Texas Health Science Center confirmed that the architectural and engineering fields were for me. I was able to explore both the medical and engineering field by performing in a Type two diabetes lab and attending classes at several colleges and universities in San Antonio.

My fascination for a structure’s design and my love for helping others have been what led me to the dream of becoming a professor of architecture. My goal is not only to study architecture but also engineering, so that I could apply both views to a project. I hope to become a model maker for architectural companies: giving blueprints life and eliminating flaws in a project before its construction. My community has offered me great opportunities to explore different careers and I hope to give back by helping and guiding new generations by mentoring and becoming a professor.

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