A 2015 Presidential Executive Order expanded the Presidential Scholars award to recognize students on the basis of outstanding scholarship, demonstrated ability, and accomplishment in career and technical education (CTE) fields. February is CTE Month, and in the spirit of celebrating the unique and valuable opportunity CTE provides, we checked back in with a few of the 2016-2018 Presidential Scholars in CTE to learn more about where their educational journey has led them.
What’s the common theme? These impressive individuals are storming the world with their civic mind-set and clear-eyed career trajectory. Many credit their strong high school CTE experiences. Let’s take a closer look!
Joseph Fujinami | Class of 2016 | Architecture and Digital Design| Home: Hawaii
Meet Joseph: Joseph, a Japanese-American architect, graduated with honors from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Joseph has assisted Chicago’s transportation network, studied informal settlements in Madrid, received distinction for a project regenerating contemporary Athens, and interned with international architecture firm BIG.
“Today’s rapid advances in technology coupled with the onslaught of the pandemic continue to stimulate an increasing demand for specialization and adaptability within our workforce… for our analog skills to be truly in sync with our technologically driven society, one must turn to the early foundations in career and technical education. Such foundation can only serve to amplify one’s passions to accumulate an even greater knowledge and trade.”
Kendra Spier | Class of 2016 | Dairy Science & Global Resource Systems | Home: Wisconsin
Meet Kendra: Kendra graduated from Iowa State University with degrees in Dairy Science and Global Resource Systems. She was elected by faculty to represent her college as the Student Marshal at commencement. After completing internships with dairy genetics companies, Spier joined URUS—a global leader in dairy & beef genetic tools—as the Global Development Education Coordinator. She’s also a coordinator for USAID-funded Cooperative Development Program-GENEX.
Dalton Green | Class of 2017 | Agricultural Education | Home: Georgia
Meet Dalton: Dalton assisted in an effort to enable Agricultural Education (AgEd) elementary programs across Georgia. While attending the University of Georgia, he worked on AgEd curriculum development and served as collegiate Future Farmers of America president. Since graduation, he’s worked for Ag America Lending, as a Georgia Young Farmers Association state board member, editor of the Georgia Hereford Association newsletter, tri-state Cattlemen’s Association board member, and a conservancy consultant. Dalton is pursuing a master’s degree in AgEd. He and his wife raise registered Hereford cattle.
Alkenly Ortiz| Class of 2017 | Architecture & Construction Technology | Home: Massachusetts
Meet Alkenly: Alkenly earned a B.S. in Architecture from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with minors in Building & Construction Technology and History of Art & Architecture. Since then, he’s completed two internships developing Veteran Housing Units. Today, Alkenly is pursuing his master’s degree at Boston Architectural College as a full-time student and working full-time as an Architectural Designer at ICON Architecture where he has been exposed to non-profit institutional work and affordable housing in local neighborhoods.
Zackery Love | Class of 2018 | Public Health and Policy | Home: Alabama
Meet Zack: At Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, Zack promotes health on his campus and serves as a leadership coach for FCCLA, a Career and Technical Student Organization. As a representative at Global Ministerial Conference in Sweden, he’s shared his CTE experiences internationally. Zack believes that his CTE background positively empowers his personal, academic, and professional growth. He intends to pursue graduate degrees in health policy and law and serve as a U.S. public servant working on health policy.
Veena Thamilselvan | Class of 2018 | Public Health & Social Policy | Home: Michigan
Meet Veena: At Johns Hopkins University, Veena is pursuing a major in Public Health and a minor in Social Policy. A Uganda study abroad program inspired her to join the American Public Health Association (she’s currently Co-Chair of the External Relations Committee). During the pandemic, she worked to develop a network to support older adults in isolation. She works at Baltimore Connect which aims to connect community-based organizations across the city, braiding resources and promoting collaborations. Next year she begins a master’s degree program in public health and hopes to work for Doctors without Borders.