Return to Headlines

Beyond Limits: Empowering Dreams for El Paso ISD students

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT – Jun. 5, 2024) — A hospital isn’t just a place for healing bodies, it can be a sanctuary for nurturing dreams and fostering independence.

10 El Paso ISD students were celebrated after finishing a completer program called, Project Search. The one-year internship program is part of a collaboration between El Paso ISD and Providence Memorial Hospital. It’s designed to give students with developmental disabilities the chance to gain real-life workplace experience.

“Here at the hospital, the students are working security, they’re working at the gift shop, they’re sterilizing equipment that’s used for procedures, and they’re doing all these things which can later translate to full-time employment,” said Dr. Santiago Morales, Facilitator at the Special Education Department. “In one instance, one of our students was working reception and a person came into the hospital with chest pains and this student was able to get help for this person quickly and had this student not been there, who knows what would have happened.”

From learning basic job etiquette to honing specific vocational skills, every aspect of Project Search was tailored to their individual needs and aspirations.

“When I first started the program, I was kind of nervous, but then I got to meet wonderful people who helped change my life,” said Cody Loustaunau, a Franklin High graduate. “I think one of the things I will miss most about this program is all the friends I made along the way.”

As the program ended, there was a palpable sense of anticipation in the air. Graduation day arrived, and amid cheers and applause, the students proudly received their certificates, symbolizing not just the end of one chapter but the beginning of a new adventure.

“You can see the growth from the students who take part in this program and it’s one of the reasons why some of us get into special education,” Morales said. “After our students leave El Paso ISD, we want to make sure they’re prepared either it be with employment or with some kind of continuing education. That’s our rule here.”

Some of the students who completed the program were offered full-time jobs.  

Congratulations to all the students. 

  • Daniel Cerros, Franklin High School 
  • Andres Contreras, Andress High School 
  • Alondra Leyva, Franklin High School 
  • Cody Loustaunau, Franklin High School 
  • Ezequiel Maldonado, Bowie High School 
  • Jacob Mares, Austin High School 
  • Raul Martinez, Andress High School 
  • Martha Vasquez, Chapin High School 
  • Sarah Vasquez, Chapin High School 
  • Laly Velarde, Franklin High School 

Project Search Ceremony Project Search Ceremony Project Search Ceremony

More photos ➡️