An inaugural group of high school juniors has set out on a career pathway to open the 2021-22 school year, with support from a highly-dedicated and passionate faculty at the new Milpitas Middle College High School.
“It’s just amazing what they’re doing already,” said MMCHS Principal Karisa Scott, who exudes positive energy and a can-do attitude amongst the student body and staff members. “The course work is pretty intense, but they’re doing great so far.”
Milpitas Unified School District’s newest college and career readiness program, housed at the San Jose City College-Milpitas Extension, offers three pathways: Education-Social Work, Health Sciences, and Business-Entrepreneurship. Students were selected from a rigorous application process that included submitting a written essay and video as well as participating in a panel interview.
“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, they did all that,” said Scott, adding that they target students who would be the first in their families to attend college but also those with an inner drive for success. “These kids were highly motivated to join this school.”
Jazmynn Moore, 16, who chose the Health Science pathway with plans of becoming a psychologist or psychiatrist, learned about the program through Principal Scott and immediately took advantage of the opportunity.
“The teachers are absolutely amazing,” Moore said. “All the staff are hands-on and outgoing. They make sure everyone feels supported and welcome.”
Classmate Karen Lopes, 16, came to Milpitas from Brazil when she was 9 years old. She applied for the MMCHS program to give her an insight into the college experience while still in high school.
“I wanted to get a step ahead and this has been a very good opportunity for me to learn more about how colleges are here because they are very different in Brazil,” said Lopez, who originally signed up for Education-Social Work Pathway but switched her focus to Business. “We’ve had a lot of guest speakers and the staff has been very helpful.”
As part of the program, Principal Scott lined up a number of guest speakers from different professional realms to share about particular careers and the many opportunities within those pathways. Additionally, students meet with SJCC counselors to get a headstart for college.
Instructor Mandy Lau, who teaches Honors English and Advisory classes, was intrigued by the possibilities of MMCHS when she applied for the job and is appreciative to be an integral part of it from Year One.
“It’s really a dream come true. The curriculum is tailored more toward students. There’s a lot of student choice,” said Lau, who is especially jazzed about the community impact project requirement that has students identify an issue within the community and environment, develop an action plan, create solutions, and implement them.
Junior Madison Gamble, 16, had been in Independent Study since 9th grade when her teacher suggested looking into MMCHS. After learning what the program was all about, Gamble decided to give it a shot.
“It is a great opportunity to make connections to the community and people with shared goals,” said Gamble, who chose the Education-Social Work pathway hoping to gain a broader perspective of the field. “I think this is really preparing us for our future.”
Principal Scott hopes to grow the program by next school year for a total of 100. The application window opens October 1 for current high school juniors who would like to join the school this Spring. A parent information night via Zoom is scheduled for Tuesday, September 21st at 6 p.m.