HOUSTON, TX - Ariana Valdez, a 17-year-old Lamar High School senior just shifted her perspective about her future as she goes through her internship program sponsored by the Smart Financial Credit Union branch on the Lamar campus since spring.
Valdez mentioned how much she learned through the past weeks and has grown as an individual. “Good business is about making connections and learning from your peers," she said.
According to Elizabeth Gonzales as the manager of Smart Financial Relationship, the Lamar branch has been providing business pathway students with internship opportunities since its inception a decade ago.
Moreover, the recently rebuilt high school as part of the 2021 Program, gives the program space to offer full-service products and services like any other community location. Gonzales said that “the Lamar High School and Smart Financial partnership offers much-needed financial services to the community and the district along with career opportunities for motivated students."
Through this program, students can get real work experiences as teller trainees while they participate in a comprehensive study plan offered during the school's Business, Finance, and Marketing program, one of 14 careers and technical education programs.
For 10 years, T.J. Chambers has been teaching the course, and in that time the curriculum has developed from basic banking skills and teller operations to insurance, loans, and proper credit training. “We offer a vast array of certification courses for our pathway students. This enhances their knowledge of business software, banking processes, and ethics. The internships allow students to exercise that knowledge," Chamber said.
Another successful story came from a branch relationship specialist, Katy Vargas, a 2017 Lamar alumna. The Career or Technical Education (CTE) pathway has opened a new door for Vargas's career and said, “the work involves more than just being a good teller. For the last five years, I have been building relationships within the community.”
The same thing happened for a 17-year-old senior, Julia McCabe. She is a financial intern and is also a credit union member. McCabe said that she got a head start in her life after learning about financial literacy. McCabe said, “Coming to work and helping people with their finances makes me feel like a responsible adult.” She also added that she is excited to be the best version of herself.
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