Senior Mario Mario Cabrera-Navarro stands by a machine at Steelhead Metal Corp

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Elevate Senior pursues internship to explore his career path

by Lindsay Trombly

Senior Mario Cabrera-Navarro found his passion at Elevate Academy in Caldwell. He said his previous school made him think college was the only path students can take to be successful for their future. And at Elevate — he realized that isn’t the case.

“I wasn’t interested in my future as much as I am at Elevate. They do it in a way that’s enjoyable,” Cabrera-Navarro said.

Cabrera-Navarro is on track to graduate with a high school diploma and certificates in Construction and Welding. Elevate’s Career Placement Coordinator, Brett Williams, has been helping the senior look for a job and found an employer that fit Cabrera-Navarro’s talents.

“The biggest thing I see with Mario is he’s always here. He’s not just here going through the motions — he’s working hard. Working on construction and projects,” Williams said. “He helps out the younger kids on Fridays, teaching them tools in the workshop itself.”

He told Cabrera-Navarro about the opportunities at Steelhead Metal Corps and took him on a tour. As soon as an internship opportunity came up, the senior jumped in, ready to get his hands dirty and learn more.

The Elevate senior said it “just worked out,” and he became part of the team learning the office side of the business. One of his tasks is making sure there are the correct number of parts for each item being created at the shop. He said he loves learning more about his trade, while “getting his foot in the door” at Steelhead.

Don Thornton, owner of Steelhead thinks he’s a natural fit for the internship and has heard great things from Cabrera-Navarro’s manager.

Mario works at Steelhead

Senior Mario Cabrera-Navarro reconciles the parts inventory for each item being created at the shop.

“His boss has been super impressed with how focused, and how much he’s progressing. He thinks he has a future in whatever he wants to do,” Thornton said.

Cabrera-Navarro said he has always had an interest in the automotive industry and is very excited about exploring it more in the future.

“I’ve always wanted to work on cars. It’s something I’ve always been interested in,” Cabrera-Navarro said.

While Cabrera-Navarro is working at his internship, he is also involved in the community at Elevate. His Construction Instructor, Greg Cocozza, has taught Cabrera-Navarro for the past two years, and he said he counts on him to do things because he has a sense of responsibility. But he isn’t the only one at Elevate that notices these traits.

His Science Teacher Meggan Laughrey said he is highly self-motivated, which will help him excel in whatever he chooses to do with his future.

“Last year when he was finishing up classes and didn’t have much to do, he didn’t just sit around on his phone. He and a student helped build a bookshelf in my classroom, and it is beautiful,” Laughrey said. “He keeps going and asking ‘what’s next’. And he’s so willing to help.”

Originally, Cabrera-Navarro decided to attend Elevate because his previous school was being held online, and it just didn’t work for him. Now, he says “there is no other school like Elevate,” the school experience has “turned out so much better” than he expected.

“At my other school I feel like I just dragged myself to get to school. But today I wake up saying ‘I get to go to school today’ I’m excited to go to school,” Cabrera-Navarro said. “This school is amazing.”

Cabrera-Navarro found Elevate as a place where he could learn new skills and thrive in a supportive environment. While he is working through the ‘80 for 80’ program to finalize his plans for after graduation, he is following his passion by learning more through his work at Steelhead. And he is ready to bring his experience at Elevate to the community by heading straight into the workforce.

Elevate Academy is a Bluum partner school and has received grant support from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation and from Idaho’s Communities of Excellence federal Charter Schools Program grant.

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