Academic Leadership Alliance Kicks Off Virtual Externship


Vol.2, Iss. 10 | June 2021

RGV LEAD, in collaboration with the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, would like to thank the sponsors, employer partners, and IHE partners who presented and provided valuable feedback on the piloted virtual A-L-A Educator Externship. Teachers from La Joya ISD and San Perlita ISD collaborated virtually with various employers and college/university representatives to learn critical employability skills that will benefit students and increase their chances of success in their chosen careers and college life.

Eduardo Bravo and Alberto Gomez Isassi, Ph.D., Co-Founders & COO of IYRS, were asked how they dealt with students’ learning in a virtual world; they mentioned that students can be actively engaged for 15 minutes, then they need to take a break. They mentioned that they want students to learn methodologies to work with teams. Developing a good resume and doing their “homework” before interviewing for a job is essential. Beto also mentioned that he recruits employees, which is why students must leave high school with certifications ready to work.

Barbara Jean Garza, President and CEO of the Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce, mentioned that the chamber serves not only Weslaco but some of the surrounding towns that don’t have a Chamber of Commerce. She provided a virtual tour of the Chamber and mentioned sites in the Weslaco area. She shared with educators the importance of networking, not only for the customer but for students as well.  Steve Valdez, Weslaco EDC Executive Director, shared the functions of the EDC and what skills they look for when hiring employees.

Ethny Fantich, Chanin Engineering, mentions that in addition to the educational requirements needed to be an engineer, “Attitude” is very important in engineering. It’s also important to be “coachable” to be a part of the team. She mentioned that it is essential to recruit girls into engineering, not to discourage them. They should follow groups that support females in engineering.

A Teacher’s Perspective

Educator Daniel Villanueva responds to Barbara Jean Garza’s example of the Weslaco Chamber of Commerce Speed Networking activity, which is used to engage businesses with each other. Villanueva said that he teaches his students to prepare their elevator speeches to take to the outside world. He gives them assignments in speaking and dressing. Garza suggested that teachers get students to intermingle in the classroom outside of their regular groups. It helps build confidence. Appropriately. Also, she said that training students to be professional when applying for a job is critical in making first impressions.

Pictured are several postsecondary representatives: Cindy Valdez, Associate VP, College Access & K-12 Partnerships at UTRVV; Amanda Posada, TSTC DE Statewide Executive Director; Murad Abusalim, Ph.D., TSC Dean of Division of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics, and Vanessa Vasquez, TSC Executive Director of Enrollment & Academic Support Services along with other local Valley college representatives, shared information on the degree plans, tuition, housing, etc. that the postsecondary institutions have to offer.

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