ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Wylie ISD is now in its first year of partnership with NEXT University (NEXTU), a career-development program created and funded by the Development Corporation of Abilene (DCOA). NEXTU has worked with Abilene ISD students since 2019 and is now offering the same opportunities and resources to Wylie students.

Wylie student in welding class

“It’s different for them to see industries investing in them and recognizing, like, ‘oh my goodness, there’s life after this,’ and they want me to be a part of that,” said Wylie High’s Principal Reagan Berry.

By working with local industry leaders in the fields of avionics, electrical engineering, welding, manufacturing and information technology, NEXTU is able to provide local students with the funding, equipment and resources necessary to give them an advantage in their field of choice.

“We’ve always been limited by public school funding,” Principal Berry said. “Getting to go to the industry and say, ‘that’s what they’re using right now in the industry… That’s the camera they’re using,’ so our AV crew needs a camera like that.”

NEXTU identifies courses already offered at the school that line up with career paths students can pursue locally. Wylie NEXTU Coordinator Lainey Alcorn told KTAB/KRBC that Wylie ISD is currently focusing on electrical, applied agriculture and audio visual programs.

Wylie students learn Camera operation

“We see the value in education, but now everyone else is starting to see the value and what we can do and how we can help our industries,” Alcorn boasted.

Juniors and seniors at Wylie High School can apply to the program after completing two or more courses in their preferred field. They are then eligible to receive scholarship money to further pursue their career education, or even equipment and resources necessary in that field to get them up to industry standards.

“Not only equipment and grant money to buy equipment that they’re using in the industry, but also networking and contacts within the industry,” Principal Berry added.

Alcorn and Principal Berry said 100 applications have already been distributed, and they are excited to see how their students make use of this resource.