Questar III BOCES celebrates Career and Technical Education Month®, an opportunity to showcase our students, while also recognizing the importance of our programs to the region and economy.

New York State is experiencing a skills gap. While 49% of New York jobs require skilled training – more education than high school, but less than a 4-year degree – only 37% of New Yorkers are trained at this level. Students enrolled in our CTE programs are learning the skills they need to help bridge this gap, while setting themselves up for successful careers in high-demand fields.

Be sure to follow us Facebook, Instagram, X, YouTube, and LinkedIn to hear more about our programs and stories like Sara’s below.


Questar III BOCES student Sara Gelani is a Criminal Justice senior at Robert H. Gibson Technical School from Rensselaer City School District. Sara takes an active role at Questar III where she is the Secretary of the Robert H. Gibson Technical School SkillsUSA Chapter and has also served as sergeant in her program earlier this year.

Early in her high school career, Sara shared that she was uncertain about what her future entailed, but that she always had an interest in criminal justice. When she learned about the Questar III program, she was excited for the opportunity to gain experience in the field and get a step ahead of other students her age.

“The first week coming here as a junior, I had no idea what was going on,” shared Sara. “But as time went on, we kinda just built this family in our classroom. We’re all working towards a similar goal, and when you spend two years together, sharing the same experience, you become really close-knit. I almost feel like it’s something you don’t experience in a regular high school.”

A student’s CTE experience is different than that of a traditional high school student. In addition to the hands-on training for their program, an emphasis is placed on workplace readiness. From building resumes and portfolios, mock interviews, internships, and certifications, students leave with the skills and assets they need to enter the workforce.

“It’s because of this program that I have so many certifications,” Sara explained. “I wouldn’t have known where to go or what to do to get them. Now I’m confident that right out of high school, I’m going to have so many opportunities because of them, and it’s going to put me a step ahead. It also makes it very easy for employees, knowing they won’t have to put in extra time and money for me to get them.”

While our students do take traditional classes like math, science, and English with us, these classes are tailored to their program. Some examples that Sara shared included using chemicals in crime scenes and ink for fingerprints in science or learning about your paycheck, benefits, and taxes in math.

“I also love that my teacher, Ms. Gillett, is a former police officer and dispatcher,” Sara noted. “We’re learning from a first-person point of view. It’s not like she read it in a book somewhere and is teaching us from the book. She’s lived it, she’s done it. She shares her own stories about what it was like, including the hardships, but also all the great things that come with it. It’s comforting to know that someone who has been in the field is teaching us first-hand.”

Sara is also the Secretary of the school’s SkillsUSA chapter. While commonly known for their competitions, which Sara participated in last year and earned 3rd place, the group’s framework focuses on technical, personal, and workplace skills. The work of the chapter empowers students to master these skills.

“It feels really good knowing all that we’re doing for our community, like our upcoming clothes drive for the Unity House,” Sara added. “We’re also hosting fundraisers to help pay for competition, and we’re doing the work. Our advisors are there and guiding us, but we’re leading it, and it’s rewarding to know that we are capable. These leadership skills are important to our future.”

Sara will attend college locally in the fall and hopes to become a police officer once she’s eligible at 21. She aspires to work her way up the ranks to work for the FBI.

“As a 17 year old, I feel prepared,” Sara said. “Most students my age have no idea what they want to do. But with these 2 years at Questar III, that’s all we’ve been talking about. I’m prepared to get out into the real world and not be intimidated. Here at Questar III, we’re treated as professional young adults. Once we graduate, I know what professionalism is and what I need to do to succeed.”



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