(WACO, Texas) – Isaiah Carter has a passion for barbecuing brisket and ribs.
Carter, a senior at the Connally Independent School District’s Connally Career Tech Early College High School, is learning the proper methods to slice, bake and boil as he earns college credit hours. He is doing this by taking dual enrollment classes in Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts program in Waco.
“A lot of people (at school) miss me a lot because I am here (at TSTC) three days a week,” Carter said.
Carter said his favorite course has been Food Preparation I, which teaches basic cooking techniques.
“Chef Paul (Porras) is a great instructor,” he said. “He is a jack-of-all-trades. Watching him explain things to us is incredible. I learned a lot from him.”
Carter plans to enroll full time at TSTC after graduating from high school to pursue an associate degree. His goal is to continue working for his family’s barbecue catering business.
“I want to do this the rest of my life,” he said.
Martha Rivera, an instructor in TSTC’s Culinary Arts program, said dual enrollment classes prepare students to continue on seamlessly at TSTC.
The Connally Independent School District has 20 high school students taking dual enrollment classes this semester at TSTC. The programs in which students are participating include Aircraft Airframe Technology, Diesel Equipment Technology, Industrial Systems and Welding Technology.
“Dual enrollment provides the ability to establish the connection to see what they can do while they are still in high school, to learn more about what they want to do, or find out early that something they are interested in is something they do not want to do for a living,” said Jeremy McCaig, principal at Connally Career Tech.
Dual enrollment students take the same course curriculum as the college students. McCaig said the TSTC courses that students take also meet requirements for graduating from high school.
Aini Aziz, a Connally Career Tech senior also taking dual enrollment classes in TSTC’s Culinary Arts program, said balancing high school and college final exams can be a challenge. She also has to manage her allergies to cumin, nuts and seafood by wearing gloves and having other students sample the food she cooks.
Aziz said her favorite class has been Fundamentals of Baking, which factors into her love for anything sugary and sweet.
“It’s a new environment, and it is not the same thing every day or sitting in a classroom,” she said. “You get to do hands-on work for a real-world experience.”
Aziz said she is glad to be taking dual enrollment classes and is encouraging her friends to do the same.
“It’s fun,” she said. “I don’t see them as college kids; I see them as my friends. There is never a dull moment with them.”
Aziz said her career goal is to work in a bakery and eventually start her own baking business.
“I have always wanted to be a chef since I was seven,” she said. “I fell in love with baking after that first class.”
TSTC is proud to showcase the students, staff and faculty who support dual enrollment efforts during Career and Technical Education Month.
For more information, go to tstc.edu.