Wanted: The Next Class Of P-TECH Students

William DeJesus grinds metal in OCC’s machine shop classroom in the Whitney Applied Technology Center. DeJesus started taking classes at OCC two years ago while he was a high school junior as part of the P-TECH Program. Next May he will earn his Mechanical Technology degree.

The Syracuse City School District (SCSD) is looking for the next group of students who will enter the P-TECH program. P-TECH stands for Pathways in Technology Early College High School. The program helps high school students earn valuable credits toward an associate degree while partnering with industry leaders.

In January the SCSD will host P-TECH Info Sessions for middle school students and Career & Technical Expos for 8th grade students at various locations across the district. More information on dates, times and locations can be found on the SCSD website.

Nearly 100 high school students are taking classes at OCC as part of P-TECH in one of the following majors: Clinical Laboratory Technology, Computer Information Systems, Drone Technology, Electrical Technology, Health Information Technology and Mechanical Technology. All costs associated with the P-TECH program including tuition, books and fees are covered by a grant from the New York State Education Department.

Four P-TECH students here are on an accelerated schedule. While attending the Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central (ITC) they amassed so many college credits they will earn their associate degree from OCC in just one year. One of them is William DeJesus, a Mechanical Technology major who started receiving job offers before coming to OCC in August. “In my family I’m the first person to go to college. The P-TECH program has opened up so many opportunities for me. It was important for me to get my degree now.”

Imari Gary (left), Quintin Shanes (center) and Mike Lloyd (right) are majoring in Electrical Technology through the P-TECH program.

Three P-TECH students majoring in Electrical Technology are on the same schedule as DeJesus. They received their diplomas from ITC in June 2018 and will earn their associate degrees from OCC in May 2019. They are Imari Gary, Mike Lloyd and Quintin Shanes. The thought of taking college classes before you are college-aged may seem intimidating. Gary said the professors at OCC made the transition seamless. “When we started coming to campus they were all extremely helpful. They knew we were high school students and steered us in the right direction.” A year from now Gary plans to be at the Rochester Institute of Technology pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Technology.

Besides being a full time student Lloyd also works at Carrier as a lab technician. He’s hoping his position there will become full time after he earns his degree from OCC. “I’m definitely glad I did this program. My parents picked it for me. I wasn’t on board with it at first but now I really like it.”

By contrast, Shanes seemed destined for Electrical Technology. His father is an engineer and his brother has an Electrical Engineering degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Shanes plans to transfer to Syracuse University next fall and pursue his bachelor’s degree. How can a middle school student know if P-TECH and Electrical Technology is for him or her? Shanes has the answer. “If you’re curious and want to know how things work like your phone or something in your house, engineering is the way to answer those questions. In P-TECH you can surround yourself with people who have an ‘I want to be better mindset’ and never settle.”

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