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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 1:21 pm | Fair 61º


Santa Barbara Business, Education Partners Celebrate Program Successes at Annual Breakfast Event

Alumni of the Paid Student Internship Program encourage businesses to welcome high schoolers into the workplace

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The Partners in Education event Wednesday featured a panel discussion from internship program graduates Jesus Terrazas, Barbara Ramirez, and Nick Carney, which was moderated by Kirsten McLaughlin of Cox Communications, the Partners in Education board president, right. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The annual Business and Education Partnerships Breakfast in Santa Barbara Wednesday highlighted the collaborations among businesses and educators, and how valuable paid internship programs are to students' future success.

Santa Barbara Partners in Education Executive Director Chelsea Duffy said the nonprofit’s efforts have resulted in more than 12,000 families receiving computers and training, and more than 600 youth gaining career readiness, as well as more than 250,000 hours volunteered countywide.

Last year, the organization served more than 60 sites across the county from Santa Maria to Carpinteria, Duffy added.

“It truly is a community accomplishment,” Duffy said. “In order for our small team to perform the services that it does on the scale that it does, we depend on our partners.”

Three student alumni of the Partners in Education Paid Student Internship Program participated in a panel discussion of the benefits of high school work experience, and other ways the nonprofit programs helped them. 

“The Paid Student Internship Program helped me get a job,” said Barbara Ramirez, a San Marcos alumna who graduated in 2014. “It gave me a lot more confidence when I was in high school and now as an adult.”

Ramirez, a first-generation college student, earned her bachelor's degree in global studies and minor in education from UC Santa Barbara. She is working full-time at The MedCenter, the site of her internship, and plans to pursue a career in medicine.

The internship program helps students learn business etiquette, about potential careers from industry leaders, and lets them gain workforce skills, said Nick Carney, another San Marcos High School alum who graduated from Villanova University and is now working for AmeriCorps. 

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Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Susan Salcido speaks during the annual Partnerships Breakfast at Earl Warren Showgrounds on Wednesday morning. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

“These organizations can provide a huge impact on students’ lives,” he said of businesses who choose to participate in the internship program. 

Jesus Terrazas’ involvement with Santa Barbara Partners in Education began when his family received a home computer through the Computers for Families program, when he was in kindergarten and his older sister was in third grade..

“My family would not have been able to afford a computer at that time. That helped with the development of where I am today,” said Terrazas, a Santa Barbara High School Class of 2014 alumni. 

He attended Santa Barbara City College after high school and graduated from UCSB earlier this year. Terrazas is working as an events manager at Merryl Brown Events, and he said the Paid Student Internship Program prepared him “in every way possible,” such as resume building and developing work skills while interning at DD Ford Construction in Santa Barbara. The internship led to a job after high school, he said.

“I was working there through college, so I was able to pay my tuition costs thanks to DD Ford because they were able to work with my hours,” Terrazas said. “Now that I graduated from UCSB, I stand out from other students because of that internship because I have that work experience.”

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La Colina Junior High School Principal David Ortiz speaks during the Partnerships Breakfast Wednesday.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

When asked how businesses could help high school students and create meaningful internships, Terrazas said that “opening the doors is the most important thing.” 

La Colina Junior High School Principal David Ortiz gave a speech titled, ”Doing the Essential,” and urged the hundreds of people in the audience to connect with students and talk to them about their ability to “dream it, believe it, achieve it.”

He said his students have “benefited greatly” from Partners in Education programs, including career day and science fair mentorships.

Earlier in the event, County Superintendent of Schools Susan Salcido provided a snapshot of student demographics and said Santa Barbara County has the second highest percentage of homeless students in California, and also has a relatively high percentage of families living in poverty.  

Salcido said many local students considered homeless are living where families are “doubled up” or “tripled up” in a home.

“There’s not a lot of places where you have your own physical private space, or a lot of opportunity for private mental or thinking space,” she said of students. 

panel discussion Click to view larger
The Partners in Education event Wednesday featured a panel discussion from internship program graduates Jesus Terrazas, Barbara Ramirez, and Nick Carney. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Partners in Education was formed by education leaders and local businesses in 1977, and its programs are administered by the Santa Barbara County Education Office, an intermediate agency between the California Department of Education and 20 school districts within the county’s boundaries.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

speaker at podium Click to view larger
Chelsea Duffy, Partners in Education’s executive director, speaks during the annual Partnerships Breakfast at Earl Warren Showgrounds on Wednesday morning. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

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