KEYS Academy students take part in dual enrollment at TSTC

KEYS Academy moved to a new facility in the fall.

Now, located at the Texas State Technical College campus, students are beginning to take dual enrollment classes.

“We started the fall semester with three students completing two courses for three college hours in Biomedical Equipment Technology,” KEYS Academy interim principal Patricia Muniz said. “This semester, we have 14 students enrolled in the Biomedical Equipment Technology and Building Construction programs.”

In the Building Construction Craftsman program, students learn about OSHA regulations, floor and wall systems, interior and exterior finishes, roof systems, and how to read blueprints.

Sophomore Danissa Duran is one of the students taking the Building Construction program which began in January.

“This program seemed more interesting to me,” Duran said. “Right now, we are learning how to use the architecture ruler, how to measure with it. At the end of the program, I want to know enough to go back and actually do building construction or something like that.”

In the Biomedical Equipment Technology program, students learn how to calibrate, troubleshoot, test, and repair equipment used to diagnose, prevent, and treat disease and illnesses.

Senior Annette Sauceda started her first semester in Biomedical Equipment Technology in January.

“I chose to take this because it is more like what I want to do,” Sauceda said. “I want to work in the medical field. I am happy because this is a good opportunity. It’s good for everyone taking it. They can get the experience, graduate with a degree, and then pursue whatever else they want to do.”

Senior Ian Schoonover is on his second year in the Biomedical Equipment Technology program.

“This program is about fixing medical equipment, most of the stuff that uses power in hospitals even the lightbulbs,” Schoonover said. “Right now, I am taking DC Circuitry. I am learning how to work with different type of circuits and how to transfer the power to AC and DC.”

His favorite part of the program is being able to work with his hands.

“It’s a little bit less of paperwork and more of the hands-on,” Schoonover said. “Last year we built a radio from scratch. I hope to be able to go back next year for my third year, and qualify for a grant or a scholarship.”

 Of those enrolled in the Biomedical Equipment Technology program, the three students on their second year will receive a certificate in Fiberoptics upon completion of the program.

“At the end of the program, I get a license,” Schoonover said. “So, not only do I get to go back for the third year, but I can also use it to go intern at hospitals to learn more. I can help fix medical equipment there.”

Once students earn their certifications, they can continue with their associate’s degree.

“Some of our students, the ones that are on the third course, have already been given offers for scholarships and grants,” dual enrollment liaison Yvette Ramirez said.  “They have been offered those so that if they want to, they can pursue an associate’s degree.”

Senior Taylor White is enjoying the college experience that this opportunity is providing and hopes to continue her studies after high school graduation.

“We have to go there on our own and keep up with stuff on our own,” White said. “It’s nice. I guess it makes me feel more mature. I am happy and grateful because they are setting us up for a future. We can go get a job after. I feel like I probably will continue to get my basics after I graduate.”

This dual enrollment opportunity is helping senior Julian Castaneda make a plan for his future.

“I feel like it is a good opportunity for me and a good way to figure things out right now,” Castaneda said. “I think this is really going to help people who are not really sure what they want to do, so it can kind of give them a structure for what they want to go for.”

Next fall, KEYS Academy hopes to offer additional dual enrollment programs.

“The goal of KEYS Academy is to expand student outcomes by allowing students to earn a high school diploma and industry certifications through dual enrollment and/or stackable credentials,” Muniz said. “This opportunity has given our students a look into what college life is about and the confidence to know they can further their education.”

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