Students from the ACCESS Academies program visited Ranken Technical College today to get an introduction to the college experience. The group of approximately 45 eighth-grade students are part of a program that, according to ACCESS Academies, “Transforms the challenging middle school years into a launching pad for high school success for socially/economically disadvantaged students in faith-based schools in St. Louis.”
The day began with a panel discussion with Ranken faculty and students. The topics the panel discussed included work ethic, dual enrollment, and life in the dorms. Current Ranken students discussed their reasons for attending Ranken. First-year Carpentry and Building Construction Technology student Stephanie Alvarado described visiting Ranken for Shadow-A-Tech during her senior year in high school. Stephanie traveled from her hometown of Chicago to check out Ranken’s Automotive division. During a tour, her group visited one of the Ranken Community Development Corporation (RCDC) job sites, where students were building a new home, to be sold to the public.
“I saw a few women working on the construction site, and that really inspired me, because that’s not something you see very often. When we spoke to them, they talked to us about all of the benefits of being a woman in a traditionally male industry. I am more of a hands-on person, than a sit-at-a-desk person, so I decided that I wanted to get into this field,” Stephanie told the students.
After the panel discussion, Ranken staff served lunch to the visiting students. Then, the students split into smaller groups to explore the divisions that most interested them. Students chose the Automotive, Construction, Electrical, Information Technology or Manufacturing divisions, and spent the rest of the afternoon getting hands-on experience to get a sneak peek at what it’s really like to be a Ranken student.