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What Do Professional Relationships Look Like for CAST Students?


This week, we are focusing on the CAST Pillar of relationships, which honestly, is at the center of everything we do.


I want to tell two personal stories tied to two events we had this week, that hopefully show how we approach relationships with our partners, and with young people, in a way that we hope builds deep and lasting connections.


On Tuesday, we welcomed Rachel Benavides, Vice President for Communications and Strategy at VIA, our transit agency, to CAST Med High School as part of our ongoing CAST LIVE series.


For those of you who are new to CAST, this series seeks to put adults who have done well, and also who care about doing good, in front of young people. We ask them to share their leadership journey. Rachel understood the assignment, and she opened up about painful experiences in her life, having to interrupt her college journey due to her mother’s illness, and later the death of her brother, while sharing the lessons she learned even amidst the pain.


I feel personally fortunate to know people like Rachel, who is a friend going back to my time at the San Antonio Express-News, and so many other leaders who have also been willing to be vulnerable and share their hearts with our students, and be in relationship with young people.


On Thursday we were at Palo Alto College for our third annual senior hiring fair. We were so grateful to the employers that came to meet with our students, and proud to see that many are returning each year.


At the fair this year I saw Victoria Davis, who I first met as a high school student many years ago when she was a member of the San Antonio Youth Commission, which I managed. Victoria applied for an internship at CPS Energy that summer, and maintained a relationship with the company throughout her college years, and has now worked at the company in talent management for 7 years, including the internship. CAST’s board president, Lisa Lewis, is the Chief Administrative Officer at CPS Energy, and a huge believer in the power of what we call “the long interview.” It always gives me such a happy jolt to see Victoria and what she has accomplished at CPS.


Speaking of CPS, Adel Leza, who has interned there for two summers now, and Angel San Miguel, who worked for HOLT CAT last summer, were talking up their respective companies to their friends.


At CAST we care about students learning academic subjects, and all kinds of skills, but we also recognize the power and importance of relationships with caring adults, and we’re so grateful that so many exceptional members of our community care about our students also.


Jeanne Russell

Executive Director

CAST Schools


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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.