Ecstatic About STEM in CHISD
(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) When Cedar Hill High School Class of 2007 Graduate Jessi Cardoso thinks about Cedar Hill ISD’s commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), he’s ecstatic.
The Senior Systems Reliability Engineer is happy, not only for his 9-year-old son, who’s a scholar at Collegiate Prep, but for all Longhorn scholars.
“I think it’s great because whenever I went to UT Dallas, we had to take some placement tests,” Cardoso said. “Tons of my college classmates were light years ahead of me. They knew how to program. They said ‘we learned all this stuff in high school’. The fact that Cedar Hill has an emphasis on STEM will set up a lot of kids for success, for sure.”
Cardoso, a first generation college graduate, said that project-based learning is something in which he thrives.
Cardoso’s journey from scholar to engineer with Thoughtspot, a Silicon Valley-based Business Intelligence Company, came about after the most tragic day in Cardoso’s life.
When Cardoso was 10 years old in 1999, he and his family were traveling to visit relatives in central Mexico.
Another driver was frustrated that the Cardosos were driving the speed limit and not exceeding it. That driver ran the Cardosos off the road. The car flipped over and ejected both Cardoso’s mother and his 2-year-old sister, Jasmine.
Jasmine died as a result of injuries in the accident, and Cardoso’s mother survived, but with serious injuries, some of which still affect her to this day.
“She sustained heavy injuries — she shattered her pelvis and titanium rods in her arms and legs, and she fractured several vertebrae,” Cardoso said. “She still doesn’t have full functioning of her left arm. (Mom) She can’t lift more than two pounds. It makes it difficult to carry pots or pans or even to do dishes.”
Cardoso and his father sustained minor injuries.
When they returned to Texas, Cardoso’s mother spent time in the hospital. As the hospital bills accumulated, the family was forced to live with relatives.
During that time, Cardoso’s uncle introduced him to computers.
“The first thing I did was say ‘I wanted to see how this thing works – I took it apart and I broke it,” Cardoso said. “My uncle said, ‘you took it apart, now put it back together and figure out how to get it to work again. In the midst of the tragedy, computers were a constant.”
Cardoso’s parents had immigrated to the Best Southwest area from Mexico, and his father worked hard to become a sous chef. They had achieved a level of stability, until the car accident created substantial financial problems.
Jasmine would be 25 years old, if she were alive today. Cardoso often thinks about who she would have become and what she may have accomplished.
Strong Ties to CHISD
Cardoso’s interest in computers only increased as he entered Cedar Hill High School as a freshman in 2003.
“Having a computer helped keep me out of trouble,” Cardoso said. “When my friends wanted to go out, I said ‘I just want to go home and use my computer.”
Cardoso joined scholar organizations at CHHS such as Business Professionals of America (BPA) and Technology Students Association. In the latter, just Cardoso and classmate Alex Stodola were the only members.
“Being in that club really opened a lot of opportunities for us,” Cardoso said. “When our teacher/sponsor left, both of us looked for another teacher/sponsor so we could keep it going. As far as we know, the club ended when we graduated.”
Cardoso has strong ties to CHISD. His wife, Irene Cardoso – a Cedar Hill High School Class of 2006 Graduate – teaches at Collegiate Academy and High School. They met on a Cedar Hill High School Society of Fine Arts (SOFA) field trip in high school to Scarborough Fair in Waxahachie.
But they didn’t get to know each other well until they were classmates at UT Dallas.
Cardoso’s younger brother, Richard, was born after the tragedy. He was the Collegiate High School Class of 2020 Salutatorian and now attends Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.