Chastity Lara is a senior in high school and already a CEO. This year, seniors at the Northside School of Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (NSITE) are creating and running virtual companies including taking on leadership roles.
It’s the first year for the capstone course Virtual Enterprise International (VEI) and NSITE is one of only five schools in the state to offer it. There are four companies at NSITE this year and after a tradeshow-style competition in February, judges will select one company to move on to national competition in New York City.
Lara is already learning what it takes to be the leader of her virtual company HybridX after interviewing for the top role and now working with classmates who have jobs in legal, human resources, accounting, marketing, technology, and sales departments. Their product is a phone case that charges the phone and serves as a wallet.
“I understand the importance of collaboration and structure,” Lara said. “It takes a team and strong foundation to make it successful. People have really grown from this experience.”
She’s earned more than 30 hours of dual credit which she’ll take with her to San Antonio College where she plans to study nursing. Lara is also taking advantage of the AlamoPROMISE program, which offers eligible students’ free tuition at an Alamo Community College.
“It’s a blessing to have that and they really encourage it here,” Lara said. “It’s saving me and my family money.”
Magnet schools are a family tradition. Lara’s mother attended when the school was known as Business Careers HS and her aunt attended another NISD magnet school.
“I was happy to be accepted here,” Lara said. “I immediately fell in love with the school. I’ve had really good teachers all four years and I think I’m pretty well prepared for college.”
Aldin Dickerson knows all about family tradition too. He’s a triplet and his two brothers also attend NSITE.
“I always knew this school existed and that out of all the magnet schools in Northside, I wanted to come here,” Dickerson said. “I like coding and techie things and knew I could get certified in coding languages. I want to work in technology which is one of the fastest-growing industries here in San Antonio.”
Dickerson is a Human Resources Supervisor for the virtual company Sole Athlete and said he appreciates the ‘soft skills’ that he’s acquired along with learning about business policies, handbooks, 401k plans, and codes of ethics. The company’s product is interchangeable soles for athletic shoes.
“The big takeaway is the work environment, handling deadlines, working with other departments, and being friendly with your coworkers,” Dickerson said. “You’re not walking out with just a diploma at NSITE, but actual real-world skills.”
He’s had some experience with teamwork both on the Holmes Academic Decathlon team and basketball team. Although he’s still finalizing his college plans for next year, he knows he wants to major in computer science.
“If there’s a three for one discount, we’ll take it,” Dickerson said.
Business is the family business for senior Halie Estrada. Several of her family members own their own businesses so she grew up around the entrepreneurial spirit and even pitched in during summer breaks at her grandma’s business. NSITE was the only magnet school she applied to attend.
“I really wanted to focus on my grades in high school and on starting my future. And I also wanted to be in a more professional atmosphere at a magnet school. They expect a lot of you. At NSITE I’ve met a lot of new people from everywhere in Northside ISD that had some of the same interests as me.”
Though she plans to study criminal justice at St. Mary’s University next year, Estrada said the business skills she’s learned in her entrepreneurship courses apply in any field.
“If you want real-life experiences, what you will need to get a professional job, then this is the school for you.”
Formerly known as Business Careers High School, NSITE is located on the Holmes High School campus.
NSITE offers students three stands of study – Cybersecurity; Computer Science and Software Development; and Entrepreneurship.