PHOTO GALLERY — Port Arthur celebrates area students with Pathway To Success Luncheon

Published 12:38 am Friday, April 14, 2023

Local businessman Elton Hollis knows the importance of the education when it comes to the skills needed for success.

As he stood on stage at the Carl A. Parker Multi-Purpose Center Thursday he asked for all of the students in the room to stand before addressing them.

“Young people, you are 25 percent of the population but you are 100 percent of the future,” said Hollis, general manager of RT Technical Solutions Inc.

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The acknowledgement of the students came during the Port Arthur Education Foundation’s annual Pathway To Success Luncheon and featured students from Port Arthur Independent School District, educators, local officials and more.

Hollis told the students not to be afraid to ask questions.

“That is the great thing about young people, about college students and about high school students. People do not expect you to be experts; they expect you to question authority. And you should push the limits,” Hollis said. “What good is it to just accept it and say, ‘hey, we’re doing OK and what the generation before me did is perfectly fine. We’re not going to push anything.’”

The businessman also said failure is when you stop trying; success is when still move forward.

Hollis thought he was a failure because he didn’t get a degree until he was 44 years old. He told no one because he felt getting a degree was something people did all the time and usually did immediately after high school.

“It doesn’t matter if you go to a four-year college, a two-year college, if you take a 15-minute certificate class on LinkedIn, or YouTube or whatever you did; learning is the key,” he said.

Chad Dearien, manager of training at Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass facility, spoke of key things the company looks for in their resumes: work experience, transferable skills and education and training.

For those without work experience, employers look for volunteer experience and extracurricular activities, he said.

He noted Southeast Texas is a goldmine of opportunity with a vast array of careers.

Students speak

Memorial High School senior Esmeralda Rezk has been called up on a number of occasions to sing the National Anthem, just as she was on Thursday.

Rezk, a native of Cuba, has been singing as long as she can remember. She enjoys singing for the public and plans to obtain a degree in fine arts for musical theater.

Booths were set up in the Parker Center to showcase Port Arthur Independent School District’s Career And Technology Education courses, as well as LSCPA booths.

Yarisbeth Macias is a student in the health sciences class who has her sights set on a career as a reconstructive plastic surgeon.

She got the idea after watching many episodes of medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” but there’s more to her decision.

“I’d like to do reconstructive plastic surgery because I understand getting someone back to whole basically and medically, but you have to take care of their mental state, too,” Macias said. “A lot of that is how a person looks and how they feel. How a person looks really affects their self-esteem, which affects their mental health. And if I can do something for somebody to make them feel prettier, better about themselves, I want to be able to do that.”

Brianna Jackson is eying a career as a pediatrician in Houston. She was accepted into Prairie View A&M, where she will take her undergraduate courses and would like to attend Baylor University or the University of Houston for medical school.

She sees her mother Marlene Jackson as her mentor.

Jair Gomez is part of the Aspire Mentorship Program and is looking forward to a career as an electrical engineer, while Diego Ceja-Vega plans to continue working toward being a Certified Nursing Assistant, he said. From there he plans to do his undergraduate work at Lamar University in Beaumont then go to the University of Houston for medical school, where he plans on becoming an anesthesiologist.