CAST Schools » CAST Schools » Advanced Learning Academy » CAST Student Spotlight: Aliana Chavez

Meet Aliana. A student at the Advanced Learning Academy, Aliana is also a member of CAST’s Student Advisory, and just recently helped coordinate CAST’s 2024 Youth Rally. When she is not studying or preparing for Student Advisory meetings, Aliana performs with the mariachi and theatre department. This is her story:


“I started at ALA in 2017 when I was in 3rd grade. At my previous school I struggled with reading and writing. My parents were looking for a public school that encouraged hands-on learning and could challenge my creativeness. My mom was talking to a friend who told her about ALA and the student-led model. In my first semester at ALA I was diagnosed with dyslexia.


ALA provided me with intervention techniques that have helped me thrive in the classroom. I got involved in UIL in 4th grade and learned that I enjoyed competing academically. When I was looking at high schools, I chose to stay at ALA because of the leadership opportunities that were available. I am also committed to the theater and mariachi program at school and that also was a big part in my decision when choosing to continue at ALA.


I have been exposed to many community leaders and have been surrounded by strong women who work tirelessly to create opportunities for my generation. I have seen the work that goes into serving the community and making positive change. Because of this, I am reminded to follow my passions and not be afraid to use my voice. It is important to me that I surround myself with positive people who have big ideas and want to do good. I am strongly rooted in my community and my latino culture.


While working on my SUSO project I learned that not everyone has access to mentors and positive role models. I have worked to start a mentorship program that focuses on diversity in the workplace. I have invited community leaders to share their stories with my classmates because I truly believe that if you can see it you can be it. I also think our community gains strength by working together, encouraging each other and inspiring one another to reach our full potential. I am a CAST Student Advisory member and use my voice to represent students at ALA.


I love traveling and I have visited 47 out of the 50 states. My goal is to visit all 50 states before I graduate High School. I have also been a  Girl Scout for 8 years, and I am a member of the ALA Girl Scout Troop, where I serve as a mentor to the younger Girl Scouts. I have a love for theater and performing and have participated in ALA theater productions for the last 6 years as a cast member, a technician and a writer. I am also a Member of the International Thespian Honor Society.


I like to participate in Chicano Theatre with the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center outside of school, and have been casted to perform in three major productions with them. I began playing the guitar when I was 6 years old and am currently a member of the school mariachi group. This year was actually my first year as the JV dance manager. 


In my spare time, I am a Volunteen at the YMCA TriPoint, and I enjoy talking to seniors and greeting the members. I have served as a page for State Representative Diego Bernal and have used that platform to discuss policy changes on how school violence is reported to the state.


In the next few years, I see myself  graduating from ALA and then living in New York and attending Fordham University. I plan to study environmental science and theater. Afterwards, I want to go to Harvard Law School and study environmental law.


I personally believe that CAST has given me the tools and resources to discover new career paths and find what I am passionate about. I have always been passionate about the environment but I didn’t know there was a career where I could focus on environmental rights and laws. The leadership skills and confidence I have gained while at CAST will help me use my voice to advocate for conservation efforts and protection of our natural resources. The advice I would give to students who unsure about attending CAST schools is to just go for it. If you attend a CAST school with an open mind and participate in the opportunities that are offered, you will find new interests and meet new people. You will also have fun learning while building the skills you will need to be successful in whatever career you choose.”

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The Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Network is a tax-exempt organization as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. CAST Schools are partnership schools with a focus on STEM careers, project based learning and work-based learning. Key partners include public school districts, higher education institutions, and local employers from target industries.