Angel Rios wasn’t lacking motivation when he joined the Norton High School JAG-K program in the fall of 2022.
Rios was, however, lacking proficiency in English when he arrived at the school as a junior. Having just moved to Norton from Mexico, the JAG-K program provided him support and a place to develop his vision for the future.
“JAG-K helped me to meet other people and learn to interact with students in a comfortable setting,” Rios said through an interpreter provided by the school district. “It has helped me with the opportunity to learn new things and helped me to pick my career goal of being a veterinarian.”
The son of cattle ranchers, Rios researched becoming a veterinarian in the JAG-K program. His research led him to enter the JAG-K Career Development Conference competition in the category of Career Preparation.
“I researched about the universities that offer the training to become a veterinarian, about the skills you need, about the salaries,” Rios said. “JAG-K has opened up a lot of opportunities for me.”
Despite the language barrier, Rios placed at the regional level, earning a trip to the state competition. Though he did not place at state as a junior, competing at the conference says a lot about Rios’ determination said Liz Albright, bi-lingual interpreter for the Norton School District.
“I’m very proud of Angel for reaching the state competition because he has to do double the work,” Albright said. “In school, he gets his assignments in English, translates them to Spanish, then translates it back to English the correct way.”
“The language barrier was the first hurdle we had to overcome when he joined JAG-K,” said Chris Delimont, who previously served as Norton’s JAG-K Career Specialist. “Angel didn’t let that stand in his way. He is such a hard worker and he wanted the opportunities he could get through JAG-K.
“It’s resonated with people. All the Norton students and community have gotten on board in welcoming him. They are all inspired by him.”
JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades 6-12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model.
The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 39 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include ADM, AT&T, EagleU, Evergy, Goldstein Charitable Trust, the JB and Anne Hodgdon Foundation, John Deere, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Gas Service, the Kansas Insurance Department, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Royals Charities, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation, the City of Topeka, United Way of the Plains and Walmart.
To learn more about JAG-K, visit www.jagkansas.org, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.