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Meet Willie Daude, a CTE Success

More and more educators, parents, and policy makers are recognizing that a four-year college education may not be for everyone, and I agree. With rapid technological advancements and high employer demand, Career and Technical Education (CTE) has become more than just a backup plan – it is a path to a fulfilling and prosperous career. 

That is why in August, I hosted a roundtable discussion with local education and business leaders to learn firsthand the needs that must be met for CTE in Texas to thrive.  I also supported the Strengthening CTE for the 21st Century Act, which allows state and local leaders the flexibility they need to tailor CTE programs to the needs of their communities, when it passed the House in September.  This legislation is a landmark step towards limiting the federal role in CTE, closing our nation’s skills gap, and empowering students pursuing careers in vital technical fields. Students like Willie Daude.

CTE students, such as Willie, now have options in diverse and exciting fields such as engineering, high-tech welding, nursing and business administration, and even audio/video production.  It’s a perfect fit for smart Texas students uninterested in the four-year college path.

Willie, age 19, is like a lot of those students.  He’s smart, motivated, hard-working, and not looking to work in a desk job.  Before graduating from Ellison High School, Willie was able to pursue his passion for working on motors by taking advantage of the innovative auto-tech programs at Killeen Independent School District’s Career Center, a cutting edge CTE training facility.  While there, he earned multiple certifications and entered the workforce within three weeks of graduation. 

In addition to his continued employment, he earned several scholarships allowing him to continue his training and will soon graduate from the Universal Technical Institute of Dallas and the Cummins program as a certified diesel engine specialist.

Students like Willie who invest their energies in CTE reap the benefits. In fact, students involved in CTE have higher graduation rates, earn competitive wages, and are just as likely to pursue a four- year degree as their non-CTE peers in the future. 

Even better, Willie’s not crippled by the staggering student loan debt that most four-year degree earners have.  CTE students can enter the workforce upon high school graduation and start making great money doing a job they enjoy. At the same time, they are learning invaluable skills for a well-balanced life: discipline, confidence, and maturity. 

I’m committed to expanding the opportunities and tackling the challenges surrounding CTE so more young people like Willie can go into fulfilling careers. For Texas to remain a national leader in job opportunities and economic growth, our talent pool must continue to meet the needs of our businesses and industries.  Supporting robust Career and Technical Education programs will be an essential part in keeping Texas strong, robust and thriving.

Rep. Carter is a member of the CTE Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represents Texas District 31, which includes Fort Hood, the largest active duty armored military installation in the free world. He serves as Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Appropriations, co-chairman of the House Army Caucus, is on the Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice and Science and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.


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