Texas’ elected leadership outlines “Pathway to Success” to Port Arthur students at luncheon

Published 4:13 pm Thursday, March 21, 2024

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Christian Manuel’s rise to his position as Texas State Representative was made possible by education.

Manuel looked around the room Thursday, where high school and college students as well as business and other leaders were seated for the annual Pathway to Success Luncheon, and asked the crowd to remember one thing.

“If it had not been for an educator in this room who didn’t give up on a dyslexic child, who did everything to survive… I wouldn’t be a state representative,” Manuel said. “I wouldn’t have gotten the help I needed if I didn’t have a principal who told me to stop goofing off. I wouldn’t be here.”

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Manuel honed in on the importance of education and how some people may not realize Port Arthur has more than four colleges within less than a 40 mile radius.

“That doesn’t happen everywhere,” he said.

“The graduates of these institutions of higher learning are well sought after and contribute to the success of the area.”

The Pathway to Success Luncheon brought together the Port Arthur Education Foundation and Lamar State College Port Arthur with Port Arthur Independent School District students, thus allowing for important career networking.

The event is also a major fundraiser for the organization, which provides scholarships to high school and college students.

Elizabeth Cravens, president of the Port Arthur Education Foundation noted the impact education has on shaping the trajectory of young lives.

“It’s about providing pathways for our youth to dream, to aspire, and ultimately to achieve,” Cravens said.

During a roundtable discussion, three legislative staff individuals told of the education and experiences needed for their respective positions.

Blake Hopper, deputy district director for U.S. Rep. Randy Weber; Cole Michalk, senior district director for Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, and Brandon Kiser, deputy district director State Sen. Brandon Creighton, each agree their job is rewarding, from meeting the public and bringing their concerns to their law makers to seeing change and progress.

The youngest of the group, Kiser, said his story began in his final years of high school, 2016, which was an election year. There was a lot of cultural focus on the election, which led to him changing his major to political science.

Hopper explained he underwent several interviews — one with the district director, one with the chief of staff and one with the congressman.

“It’s really important that you sell yourself. Make sure your resume is up to date. And there’s a lot of great resources out there for resume builders, different classes you can take,” Hopper said. “Be sure to have plenty of samples and real world actions you’ve taken, results that you’ve had, challenges you’ve overcome, challenges that you haven’t overcome.”