A pilot program aimed at creating tech-savvy entrepreneurs brought together more than 400 EPISD high-school students to give them a leg up on their road to success.
The Success through Technology Education Foundation brought Techstars — a nationally known program that mentors and trains new entrepreneurs — to Bowie High School for a first of its kind high-school program.
The half-day training gave students real-world scenarios and steps to start up a business.
“The goal of having Techstars program will be to excite and engage youth by the masses to make a lasting impact in El Paso,” said Joseph Sapien, the foundation’s executive director. “If students can self-identify as an entrepreneur and gain the confidence of starting businesses, then they are more likely to start them here.”
Sapien, who coordinates a STEM Business Challenge, saw how TechStars presented an attractive and innovative model tailored to college and professional startups, and thought the model would work for high school students.
He worked with CTE facilitator Victor Martel to coordinate the workshop for EPISD CTE students.
“They are learning the business model and taping into their entrepreneur talents that they probably don’t know they have,” Martel said. “El Paso ISD was chosen to pilot this program so this opportunity for the city is phenomenal. Our students are the only ones in the country getting it right now. It’s inspiring them to look at themselves as entrepreneurs.”
“This shows high school students that they can do anything they want,” Ontiveros said. “Nothing is a dumb idea. They have showed us how to market our business, how to grow and be open to new things.”
Coronado High senior Valerie Camarena already knows she wants to start her own company one day in the field of technology or engineering.
“I don’t want to have a normal job like other people,” Camarena said. “This gives us a head start and gets us into it. It has improved my perspective. Instead of having an immature mind getting into this, you start thinking ‘I got to get my stuff together and be prepared for the real world.’ This throws you out there. I need to start building on it and be able speak out in front of people and turn my nervousness into excitement.”