This innovative high school program is turning conventional wisdom about education on its head

SAN DIEGO — Ana Sical, 25, once thought she was destined for a full–time job at the Jack in the Box fast–food restaurant where she worked for three years alongside her mom, dad, aunts and uncles. Instead, she graduated valedictorian from her high school and won a full scholarship to San Diego State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering.

For the past two years, Sical has worked as a project engineer at University Mechanical in El Cajon in Southern California. She’s part of a team of engineers overseeing the construction of a new San Diego courthouse. It’s a good job that allowed Sical to assume permanent guardianship of her siblings, ages 16, 13 and 10, when her parents were unable to care for them.