A Look Inside South Tech

Freshmen explore career-driven education at South Tech


Chris Lorenz

Applying epoxy to a broken car bumper, freshman Ruthvi Tadakamalla assists a Southern Technical (South Tech) student in the Auto Collision Repair program. Forty freshmen registered to tour the campus and participate in hands-on experiences to give them a taste of South Tech programs. “I learned that there [are] other careers I could do besides pre-med. Before I went, I wasn’t thinking that I might like them, but I did like doing a lot of the things that we did,” Tadakamalla said.

Windshield wipers, car bumpers and car paints of various colors adorn the Auto Collision Repair room, one of the many rooms on the Southern Technical (South Tech) campus where high schoolers from all over come to learn technical skills in fields like cosmetology, dental sciences, firefighting, and more. South Tech is a partner school with West, so College Counselor Chris Lorenz took 40 students to South Tech on Monday for a 90-minute tour.

“Sometimes students hear about technical schools or certain programs and have preconceived notions about what is being offered there, what the programs look like [and/or] what the classrooms look like. Or, maybe they have no idea [what South Tech is like]. By touring the campus there, [freshmen] get to see the actual work that students in those programs are doing,” Lorenz said. 

Students were split into groups and assigned a tour guide enrolled at South Tech. The tour guide showed them the campus and showed the freshmen the student perspective of school there.

“We had a welcoming tour guide, and I think I can speak for all of us [in my group that] we had a really good time there. We bonded because we shared similar interests [in] participating [in] hands-on things. People were really friendly and welcoming. I could see that they were genuinely interested in having more students,” Tadakamalla said.

To participate in a South Tech program, students must apply as a sophomore because it is a two-year program. 

“Going as freshmen is very timely, and this is a kind of a critical juncture for them to [have this] experience. Next fall, as sophomores, the window opens for them to apply to South Tech programs,” Lorenz said.

Freshman Kaitlyn Black is planning to apply to South Tech in the future. Her favorite program was cosmetology.

“It was eye-opening for me to do what I like instead of sitting at home. I like cosmetology and working on cars, building [and] doing stuff with people. I would definitely encourage [others] to do this [it] is a really good experience,” Black said.

With its hands-on teaching style, South Tech teaches many programs and attracts students hoping to enter many fields. Freshman Alexander James (AJ) Lewinski wants to go into either the Marines or the Navy after high school. 

“I feel like I have a strong sense of national pride. Serving the country and protect[ing] other people feels natural to me. I have lots of friends that are serving, but a lot of retired military as well. It’s been my childhood dream job, growing up around my grandparents, aunts and uncles who have served and talk about different stories and how it’s a great honor,” Lewinski said.

After serving, Lewinski hopes to become a firefighter.

“South Tech is a chance to learn skills I wouldn’t otherwise learn. I was planning on [going into] firefighting and Emergency Medical Services (EMS), so learning first aid and more people skills [would be helpful],” Lewinski said.

Tadakamalla hopes to go into pre-med in college but is thankful for this opportunity because she was able to appreciate other career options. 

“I learned that even though it looks easy to be a car [mechanic], it’s still difficult [and] took a lot of focus and effort. I learned a lot more about cars and how they put them together and how they get fixed, but it might not be something I particularly want to pursue even though I enjoyed [the] experience,” Tadakamalla said.