The Prosper Career Independent Study program is designed to help advanced academic students at Prosper High School explore career prospects and professional aspirations through self-directed study and networking with mentors. Director of Advanced Academics Janet Anders has guided and spearheaded the program along with Program Facilitator Kristy Skoyles.

“The goal of the program is to get the kids to work with a mentor within their chosen career field,” Skoyles said. “They meet with them about once a week for about an hour. They also complete a research assignment and final product. They also have to give a 45-minute speech at the end of the year.”

The participants from the 2016/2017 school year engaged in a luncheon on Thursday to welcome next year’s students as well as to review their finished projects.

“I want to be a biomedical engineer,” Meghan Davis, a PHS senior who will be attending MIT in the fall, said. “I worked in a cancer research lab at UT Southwestern with Dr. Hao Zhu, a liver oncologist at Parkland Memorial Hospital. With his help and the help of one of his graduate students, I wrote a review paper about the hepatostat, which is a factor involved in liver regeneration.”

Davis went on to explain how this experience has benefited her.

“I’m very thankful that I’ve had this experience,” Davis said. “At the beginning of the year, I thought that I would not do medicine and would just go and get my PhD. Through my interviews and shadowing Dr. Zhu, I knew that I wanted to be a doctor. This program offers students the opportunity to make themselves really competitive and to discover more about themselves. More people should participate in this program because it is amazing.”

Another student that participated in the program this year was Bryden Jones, a senior who plans on attending UT Austin for mechanical engineering.

“My original work was to make a foundry that would melt aluminum cans,” Jones said. “I found a few designs on YouTube and the internet and had wanted to make one. This class allowed me the time to do that. I created a design and fabricated it by cutting out the metal and welding it all together. When you melt aluminum cans you have paint, plastic, and other kinds of impurities that float to the top. You scrape those off the top and then pour the pure aluminum into ingots.”

Jones worked with Robert Geiger, a systems engineer at Encore Wire. He helped Bryden to optimize his foundry and the design.

Megan Stasick is a junior with an interest in marketing, who participated in the program this year and will continue with the program next year.

“I mentored with the Dallas Cowboys,” Stasick said. “That was really exciting. My mentor’s name is Nate Reilly from Corporate Partnership Services at the Cowboys. He manages the team’s connections with sponsors. We created a marketing plan that would better engage youth in the team. We worked with the youth fanclub and I created a marketing proposal. We also worked with the broadcast team to create a mockup of what a show could be that would appeal to youth.”

The independent study program will be in its third year next year. As it grows in popularity, more mentors will be needed from the community to help PHS students explore their career opportunities.