Keller Citizen

ESL fair helps KISD students map future

ESL specialist Brenda Rees helps Jorge Cerna prepare for job interviews.
ESL specialist Brenda Rees helps Jorge Cerna prepare for job interviews. Star-Telegram

Keller district juniors and seniors learning English as a second language discovered options for their futures at the first-ever Keller ISD ESL College and Career Fair Jan. 29 at Timber Creek High School.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for all ESL students who don’t have a lot of information about going to college,” said Irma Perez, a senior ESL student at Central High School.

About 150 students attended the event, which featured representatives from several area colleges, trade schools, businesses and the military. KISD ESL teachers assisted by conducting mock job interviews with participants, giving them tips on how to make positive impressions.

Mary Martin, director of language acquisition, said the fair came about after the high school ESL academic intervention teachers came together to find ways to give students more guidance and reduce the number of dropouts.

“We wanted to address students who don’t know were to go next, to see what school can do for them,” Martin said. “We also wanted to give the community a chance to see kids they can employ. This is a good bilingual market.”

Admissions officers from Abilene Christian University, Midwestern State University, the University of North Texas and Tarrant County College were available to answer questions and provide information on requirements, scholarships and financial aid.

Lauren Hinojosa, a recruiter for the University of North Texas, said, “We want them to know about the resources available for those who need extra help understanding the process.”

Wanda Stamford, a senior ESL student at Timber Creek High School, said the fair was helpful. “It shows ESL students they have the opportunity to go to college, and it’s not just for American students,” she said.

Stamford said she also appreciated the chance to talk with business professionals, military service members and ESL students from other campuses.

Wilfredo Martinez, senior manager of the loan origination department for Capitol One, said he was on hand to let students know about the opportunities for bilingual speakers.

The bank employs bilingual staff members in branches all over the United States and in call centers for car and home loans, Martinez said. Capitol One also gives employees a $5,000 a year tuition credit if they attend college while they work.

“They need to know it’s important to be bilingual and it gives them an advantage,” he said.

Jose Arredondo, a senior ESL student at Fossil Ridge High School, said he learned a lot of helpful information at the fair and learned tips and questions to ask in practice interviews.

Martin said that she and her staff hoped to grow the event.

Timber Creek junior Tamires Berzin, said she gained helpful information in how to achieve her goal of becoming a nurse.

“I think it’s good because it helps us to think about the future and what we night want to do,” Berzin said.