Taking the First Step Toward a Brighter Future

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The transportation of goods is an essential service that keeps the country running. And the overwhelming majority of U.S. freight — 72.5% — is transported by trucks, according to American Trucking Associations.

More than 3 million drivers are employed in this industry nationally, and job sites list tens of thousands of open positions for CDL drivers throughout the country.

Through its Adult Continuing Education programs (ACE), Brownsville ISD offers transition classes, career pathway classes, and certifications for in-demand industries to local individuals interested in improving their quality of life through a stable, well-paying career. Anyone 17 and up with a government-issued photo ID and residing in Cameron County can qualify for an ACE program and enroll at no cost to them; the program is funded primarily through Federal and State grants.

Most recently, the district introduced a program for students to earn a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) certificate, which offers multiple career options, including a long-haul truck driver, local truck driver, bus driver, dispatcher, and truck driving instructor. Brownsville ISD is the only school district in the Valley to offer such a course.

Reyes Rivera serves as director for ACE and said the first step to a better future is wanting it.        “All they have to do is want to get one of these certifications and we’ll provide them with all the support that they need,” Rivera said. “When they walk in the door for registration, we guide them through the process.

“Once they’re in class, they see they’re in an environment with people who are in the same situation, and that helps to build a team environment and get them back on track for school.”

In addition to receiving CDL, Microsoft Office, welding or phlebotomy training, and more, students may also earn their GED and learn English through the ESL classes offered.

Rivera said the majority of enrollees are the heads of their household and working full time, which is why BISD offers both morning and evening classes — each with a class size of more than 15 students.

“It’s a win-win for the students,” he said. “There’s a lot of growth happening in the trucking industry, so drivers have many opportunities to work with different companies and make a better living for themselves and their families.”

He adds getting to play a part in the transformation of lives is the part of his job he most enjoys.

“These students have really good skills to offer already because they’re already working, so just seeing them take that step to earn a certification and become more employable in higher-paying fields is extremely rewarding,” Rivera said.

ACE students are not left on their own once they graduate. Through its career navigator and partnerships in the community, BISD helps bridge them to employment.

“We can help them fill out their application to whatever company they’re interested in and then connect them with employers so they can get an interview,” he said. “Whenever anybody wants to come in and learn about our services, they can walk in and automatically begin the registration process. We look forward to welcoming them.”

The next registration window for ACE programs opens in August. For more information, call 956-548-8175, visit bisd.us, or contact Rivera at ririvera@bisd.us.

Rocio Villalobos