Senior Leanny Castro prepares for future career in business through ECCA

Student smiling in front of wall that says "We're Proud of our Students."Stillwater High School senior Leanny Castro is laying the groundwork for her future thanks to a unique program designed to prepare high school students for their chosen career paths. The Early College Career Academy (ECCA) is a collaboration between a student’s high school, SUNY Adirondack and the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex (WSWHE) BOCES. The program begins during a student’s junior year of high school and combines traditional coursework with career and technical education, at no cost to families. Students have the opportunity to earn college credits and “internationally recognized industry certifications,” while obtaining valuable work-based learning experiences from skilled professionals.

With aspirations to become a diplomat or foreign service officer, Leanny enrolled in the Business and Entrepreneurship program; the program is one of five career pathways offered through ECCA.

“I decided to participate in the program because I want to study International Business and Political Science in college. The program is helping me more on the business side, as I’ve earned 23 college credits so far,” Leanny said.

As a Business and Entrepreneurship student, Leanny begins each school day at Stillwater before traveling to SUNY Adirondack for her college courses. Fridays are usually reserved for work-based learning on the college campus, which include internships and job shadow opportunities; Leanny currently has an internship with a marketing firm.

In addition, Leanny has been able to apply what she’s learned in a real-life setting after ECCA and PUSH Apparel of South Glens Falls entered a partnership in January. The two organizations joined forces for a t-shirt design contest to showcase the talent of students in the New Media and Business and Entrepreneurship programs. The partnership provided New Media students the opportunity to create an original design, while students in the Business and Entrepreneurship program utilized their marketing skills to promote the contest. Leanny was an integral part of the competition, as she created all of the content for Instagram; she promoted various t-shirt designs prior to the final vote and highlighted the winning design.

Upon reflecting on her time in the program, Leanny said her experience has been “really great.” She recalled how helpful her college instructors were and the benefits of their lessons, specifically on the stock market and marketing.

“I’ve learned a lot of things in the program that have helped me in other classes and will be useful in my future career. For instance, learning about the stock market, marketing and how to reach an audience has helped me in the business writing class I’m currently taking,” said Leanny.

Looking ahead, Leanny is excited to see what the future holds; while she hasn’t decided on a college yet, she’s prepared for what’s to come thanks to the strong foundation built through ECCA. With an inspirational spirit and drive to succeed, Leanny has the power to not only achieve her dream career, but the potential to make a powerful difference in the world.