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A partnership to give students a rare look into SpaceX facility

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From welding and engineering to rocket building processes, Brownsville Independent School District students from the Texas Southmost College Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers recently had the rare opportunity of touring SpaceX and its Starbase launch site. Courtesy Image

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BROWNSVILLE, Texas – From welding and engineering to rocket building processes, Brownsville Independent School District students from the Texas Southmost College Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers recently had the rare opportunity of touring SpaceX and its Starbase launch site.

SpaceX, a private rocket production facility, test site and spaceport located near Boca Chica Beach, hosted nearly 100 students, during a pair of one and half hour tours, through their center with the goal of increasing career and job opportunity awareness in science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) fields.

The tours, organized by TSC’s Director of Instructional Projects Prisci Tipton, Ph.D. and BISD, served middle and high school students of the 10 21st Century TSC sites located at Brownsville middle and early college high school campuses.

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“Our students need and deserve to have access to opportunities like this,” said Tipton. “STEM fields are the present and the future. Tours like this are our way of exposing them (students) to the possible, high-paying careers available to them right here in Brownsville and beyond.”

Tipton added that most of the students participating in the SpaceX tours are STEM and Career and Technology Education (CTE) students, who are active in clubs such as robotics, mathematics, algebra, coding and programming.

“Our goal with the 21st Century program is to help produce high school graduates who are college and career ready,” said Tipton. “What 21st Century does is offer programming and resources that align with state education agency standards, encourage interest in college and plant the seed of success so students realize that anything is possible.”

For Armando Duran, a 12th grader at Rivera Early College High School, this experience was an eye-opener for what comes next as a college student next fall.

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“A tour like this gives us (students), me, a chance to see the possibilities that are out there, in our own backyard,” said the 17-year-old. “Touring SpaceX is something I have wanted to do for a long time, and I never thought I would have the opportunity.”

This tour is a dream come true for the aspiring computer engineer.

“I’m inspired more than ever to pursue a career in engineering,” said Duran. “Thank you to BISD, the 21st Century program and TSC for giving us this rare learning experience. If all goes well, I can see myself working here within the next few years.”

Courtesy Image

Pace Early College High School senior Tashareney Baez agrees that the SpaceX tour has opened a new world of opportunities. In fact, she said TSC’s 21st Century program has given her the chance to explore education and career pathways since middle school.

“I have been active with 21st Century for at least eight years, helping me discover and grow my love for everything engineering,” said Baez. “Being at SpaceX just helped me solidify and realize that my goals are obtainable right here close to home.”

Tipton said she hopes that the partnership between TSC and SpaceX continues to flourish, so that more of TSC’s 21st Century students can have the opportunity to explore what it has to offer.

Rivera Early College High School Principal Norma Canales agrees that the partnership between TSC and SpaceX, and the tours offered by the rocket production facility, will change lives.

“BISD and TSC’s 21st Century grant has provided an excellent portal to the future for our students opportunities by exposing them to wonderful experiences,” she said. “A prime example is visiting SpaceX. Our students are afforded a front row seat of what our community offers and what will help them in their future. The jobs that SpaceX has available for those who exhibit hard work and dedication to their studies are many. The world and galaxy are at their fingertips.” To learn more about TSC’s Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers, call your child’s middle school or high school 21st Century site coordinator.

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