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'I take pride in my work': KC students explore dream careers through Operation Breakthrough's Ignition Lab

Ignition Lab students
Posted at 8:20 AM, Dec 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-06 09:20:26-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Students in the Kansas City area can explore their dream careers through Operation Breakthrough's Ignition Lab.

The program teaches high school students in fields ranging from culinary arts, product design, robotics and more.

Thanks to help from Travis Kelce’s 87 and Running Foundation, hundreds of students across Kansas City have 10 different lab spaces to choose from at the Ignition Lab to learn a variety of workforce skills.

“If you don’t work hard, and try to do your best, your products are not going to turn out how you wanted them to,” Hogan Prep Academy student Beautiful Jackson said.

Jackson said she learned technology, patience and teamwork through product design at the Ignition Lab this semester. She designed her own products including an LED light, a Tinker Bell key chain, a board game and small vases.

“It gives them economic mobility because it’s giving them industry-recognized skills that they can use in the real world directly out of high school or just to give themselves more focus as they go off to college or technical school,” Operation Breakthrough CEO Mary Esselman said. “It’s a great way for them to show they’re strong communicators, that they’re insightful and that they’ve had to think critically over the semester.”

At the end of each semester, students present what they created to a panel of outside professionals who already utilize these skills.

“I really do take pride in my work and seeing that grown people want to see a kid’s side to what they already to makes me have faith in this generation,” Jackson said.

Jackson said these skills have set her up for her dream career as an Air Force pilot.

“You don’t really see women doing a lot of things men usually do,” she said. “My one dream is to fly one of those jets, I really want to. It’s tucked in deep behind my heart.”