School news


Rachel Chan


High school can be a great time to explore future career pathways, and nowhere better to do that than in one of 26 Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs of study offered in Spring Branch ISD (SBISD).

SBISD offers CTE courses at all high schools and the district’s central CTE facility, the Guthrie Center, as well as some middle schools.

Rachel Chan took advantage of two different CTE programs at the Guthrie Center during her high school career at Westchester Academy for International Studies (WAIS) in SBISD. During her freshman year, she got a ‘taste’ of the Guthrie’s Culinary Arts program. 

Then, during her sophomore through senior years of high school, she pivoted over to the Architecture Design program. This unique course of study allows students to explore the field of architecture while learning to use industry-standard software and create a professional portfolio that can be submitted with college applications to university architecture schools.

“At the time, architecture seemed like a field that could mix in the qualities of artistic skills and a stable job,” said Chan. “It seemed like something in which I could make money while doing something I enjoyed.” 

Chan graduated from Westchester in 2018, and went on to earn a Bachelors in Architecture at the University of Houston. She finds that in the field of architecture, she is able to blend her fine arts skills with the exacting specifications needed to design buildings.

“There’s a certain discipline that is formed to create good work,” said Chan. “In a way, that discipline is like a different type of medium to create art.” 

A head start

Chan credits her experiences at The Guthrie Center with giving her a head start in college: not only with training in industry-standard software such as AutoCAD and Revit, but also with knowledge about what to expect in architecture school at the university level.

She has high praise for the Guthrie instructors she had along the way: Mr. Martinez, Mr. Loutfi and Mrs. Greiner.

“They were all very patient in teaching me and the rest of their students, and it was very obvious that they were dedicated to helping us get the best education possible,” said Chan of her instructors. “They had an undeniable passion for design and teaching that made my time at Guthrie full of fun and successful learning.”

A career is launched

Chan currently works for a small architecture design firm in Houston’s museum district. Because of the small size of the company, she is able to engage in a lot of hands-on experiences with various facets of the business, from design through the construction phases of projects.

She is working on obtaining an architectural design license that requires industry experience, and is interested in eventually earning a Masters degree. Long term, teaching architectural design in a college studio is also appealing to Rachel Chan.

Give it a try!

“I’ve always thought that exposure of different career fields is a very important thing for high school kids,” said Chan. “Guthrie provides that opportunity to test out curiosities. And it’s fun!” 

Oh, that year in the Culinary Arts program did not go to waste, either. “Even though I took Culinary arts for only one year, it has since become a hobby of mine,” said Chan.