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BRIGHT FUTURES — Vocational education leads Memorial graduate to Robogistics internship

As an 18-year-old, recent Memorial High School graduate Alanna Lewis just accepted her third internship in two years.

The Port Arthur native started working at Robogistics on Monday studying business management at the robotics management firm in Southeast Texas.

“It’s an honor,” Lewis said. “I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity.”

Lewis graduated from Memorial High School earlier this month, landing an internship immediately following commencement.

No stranger to the early workforce, Lewis participated in the Vocational Office Education program in high school, interning for two departments within the Port Arthur Independent School District.

“The program allowed me to go to school half the day and go to work the other half of the day,” she said. “I went to school and then I’d go to the Port Arthur ISD administration building to help in the business department and human resources department.”

Alanna Lewis sorts through daily paperwork during her internship.

Lewis worked alongside communication specialist Kristyn Cathey.

“Alanna is a wonderful student,” Cathey said. “I enjoyed working with her when she was a VOE student in our central administration building. Besides working in the business department, she helped me with a lot of things.”

Lewis assisted Cathey in the communications department from time to time.

“[Lewis] is studious and a leader both in and out of school,” Cathey said. “I believe that she s going to do great things in the world, she already has.”

Lewis’ job at Robogistics is similar to her duties performed in the administration building, filing paperwork, faxing documents, learning computer programs and assisting in daily accounting assignments.

She landed the job through the vocational program and prior work experience.

“Our teacher at Memorial gets a lot of opportunities from different businesses,” Lewis said. “Since we are in the vocational program and already have work experience, we often get first pick on internships available in the area. I signed up for this one because I’m always looking for a job and experiencing different workforces.”

After completing her internship this summer, Lewis will attend Prairie View A&M to major in business management with a minor in dance.

She hopes to combine her two passions to someday own her own dance studio.

“Whenever I was in Woodrow Wilson Early College, my professors explained different career options to me,” Lewis said. “I’ve been dancing since I was 3 years old and my favorite subject has always been math. I always figured I’d have to choose one or the other when I grew up, but then I started to realize I could combine both passions and do the what I loved at the same time.”

Never really liking reading or social studies, Lewis clung to math and dancing to escape the struggle school often brought her. Lewis is dyslexic.

Alanna Lewis smiles during her third day on the job. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

“It was a challenge to learn in school sometimes,” she said. “They told me math was going to be my hardest subject to learn, but to me it came easy, just like dancing. That’s when I knew I wanted to pursue a career in accounting or business and eventually own my own studio.”

At Memorial, Lewis was captain of the high school’s drill team, the Flames.

“When I was younger, I never wanted to leave the dance studio,” she said. “Seeing how excited the instructors were to teach us and the students were to learn, it was always fun. I realized it was something I wanted to do. I want to be able to see kids come in smiling and just ready to have a good time.”

Outside of school, Lewis was a member of Ivy League, a subset of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority teaching young women the importance of sisterhood, community service and bonding.

Every third Saturday, Lewis and her grandmother also volunteer at Saint Paul’s church in Port Arthur.

Lewis’ advice to others, especially those struggling with a learning disability, is to just keep pushing.

“It will get easier,” she said. “It might not seem like it. Your dreams might seem too big, but it’s not. Set a lot of goals. Surround yourself with a good support system. Stay organized, plan out your day, your week or your month. Write a goal down and stick to it. Most importantly, don’t let anybody ever tell you that you can’t do anything.”