Prosper Career & Independent Study program offers career preparation, mentorship opportunities

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Wesley Barrett

Leaning in to listen, junior Aditi Shankar joins her career table group during the Prosper Career and Independent Study mentorship symposium Oct. 20. PCIS is accepting applications for next year’s program until 4 p.m. Feb. 26. “Students should take PCIS because it is a good space to breathe,” senior and second year PCIS student Abi Aguwa said. “It’s not a taxing class because you’re choosing your own path, doing what you enjoy – and you also have Mrs. Ballard.”

Grace Williamson, Editor-in-Chief

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The Prosper Career and Independent Study program will accept applications until 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26.

PCIS is a program within Prosper and Rock Hill high schools that allows students to choose and focus on a career to study throughout the school year. Students interview and select mentors in their career field of interest and work toward a final project to present at the end of the year. To apply to the program, students must complete the application found here.

“PCIS was created for kids to study a career that they are passionate about,” PCIS teacher Tiffany Ballard said. “They get to spend a whole year figuring out what that career looks like.”

Program students also learn professionalism skills in the first half of the school year that includes how to dress, conduct interviews, build resumes and use email etiquette.

Originally, it started out as a Gifted and Talented exclusive program, and we opened it up because every student is gifted in a subject when they’re passionate about it,” Ballard said. “This lets the student who hasn’t had the opportunity to shine, to pick what they want to study, and for the first time, they can say ‘I want this project to come to life, and this is what I’m going to do to make it happen.’”

The second half of the year is dedicated to creating a final project that reflects what the student has studied with their mentor.

I’m currently studying dance, and that’s what keeps me motivated because dance is my biggest passion,” junior and PCIS student Karolina Rubio said. “It’s really fun and informative about how the real world works.”

The PCIS program is a one-period class, and it is AP-weighted, meaning class grades will receive a 10 point boost on a weighted scale.

I love the ability to have control over what you’re learning and how to pace your work. It’s something that everyone should try because it lets you explore what you want to do outside of college and high school.”

— junior Karolina Rubio

I think every student should take PCIS because it is the first class, in my opinion, that you can take in high school that lets you independently study what you want to study,” Ballard said. “You get to do everything on your own time frame with some guidance from a teacher.”

PCIS held a virtual and in-person synchronous mentorship symposium Oct. 20 where students were introduced to professionals in a variety of career fields. This meeting combined the Prosper and Rock Hill programs to allow students to interview and learn about professionals and their careers.

Not only are you building your work community through networking, interviewing and finding connections, you’re also building a community in your classroom,” senior and second-year PCIS student Abi Aguwa said. “I think it’s really cool that for a class period you’re in the room with people who are motivated like you and think like you.”

Aguwa said she decided to take the program because she wanted the independence to study what she is passionate about and the time to narrow down her career options.

The biggest thing for me is to knock out things that I know I don’t want to do,” Aguwa said. “I would go on an interview and talk to people and realize ‘OK, I definitely do not want to do this as a career.’ So now, going into college, I know what I don’t want to do already.”

Due to COVID-19, mentorships have become partially in-person and partially virtual. However, this has allowed students to connect with career professionals all over the world through video chats on platforms like Zoom.

“You get to make the decision of when you’re doing your work, what you’re studying and what you want to work on,” Ballard said. “The most gratifying part of being a teacher in this program is to see a student take what they’ve learned and come back to me with a victory – or a failure and say ‘this is what I’ve learned, and this is how I’ve got into the door.’”

Rubio said she is studying dance, and PCIS has allowed her to study audition processes, colleges and creative resumes.

“I love the ability to have control over what you’re learning and how to pace your work, Rubio said. “It’s something that everyone should try because it lets you explore what you want to do outside of college and high school.”

For questions about the course, students can contact Ballard through email, or Rock Hill teacher Coshari Chacchia through email.

“I’m not just doing bookwork,” Aguwa said. “It’s not just a credit I have to fulfill. It’s me learning and investigating what I actually enjoy and what I’m passionate for.”