Check out this inspiring interview with Stephanie Sosa, a student who was part of the NYC Solar Schools Education program run by the NYC Department of Education in partnership with Solar One’s Green Design Lab. The program gets students excited about clean energy early on through K-12 classroom lessons and then offers a pathway to get solar job training, certification, and first-hand experience while in high school.
Thanks to the NYC Solar Schools Education Program, college student Stephanie Sosa got a jumpstart into her clean energy career while she was still in high school. She participated in Solar One’s virtual summer course as a high-school senior during the pandemic in June of 2020 and earned her NABCEP Solar PV Associate credential. With that training and experience as a foundation, she has decided to pursue a degree in electrical engineering at the NYC College of Technology to prepare for a career in clean energy. And kudos to CareerCLUE educators Geovani Caldero, Bruno Estrada and Alex Nathanson for their excellent work with students like Stephanie!
Generation180: What sparked your interest in solar and clean energy?
Stephanie Sosa: Ever since I was a little kid, my parents taught me to consider the earth a gift, because this is our home. I try my best to take care of it. In high school science class, we talked about ways we harm the earth, and the ways we can fulfill our human needs and wants. Solar and clean energy are the best way to fulfill our present needs without harming the earth and the ability of future generations to meet their needs. So, when I heard about Solar One’s virtual solar training for students, I applied right away.
Generation180: What were some of your highlights of the solar program?
Stephanie Sosa: I was very impressed by how knowledgeable the instructor was. All of the modules were rich in useful information (like PV system sizing), pacing was excellent, and he would go out of his way to research an answer to a question if he didn’t immediately know the answer. I enjoyed learning terms that were new to me, or that I was using wrong. For example, it’s actually solar cells that make up solar modules, which make up solar panels that comprise solar arrays!
Even with the course being in a fully-virtual environment, there were many ways to engage in discussion with other students, ask questions that lead into tangential conversation, and collaborate to enrich our learning.
Generation180: Did the high school solar program have an impact on your future career plans?
Stephanie Sosa: In high school, I discovered many things about myself. A passion for clean energy was one of them.
Specifically, during my junior year, we had someone from Solar One visit my class. He introduced me to solar and engaged my whole class through interactive, hands-on learning activities with solar cell modules that were really fun. From then on, I continued learning about the electrical trade, but I didn’t know how I would work within it. His lessons and role made me aware that solar was a growing field I could become a part of.
Immediately after completing the virtual course, we were given a book that we could study for the PV associate exam. I jumped at this opportunity to continue my learning and solar expertise. I studied, took the exam, and passed! So now I have my NABCEP PV Associate credential.