Not every college graduates dreams of leaving town for their career. Some graduates would like to contribute to their community and be near their family.So was the case for Horacio “Henry” Ibarra-Hurtado and Maleny Marin.“I know a lot of people talk about if you leave town you get paid more, but everyone’s situation is different,” explained Marin. “My family is from here and I was born and raised here, so I wanted to stay here.”Ibarra-Hurtado’s family moved from Mexico to Yuma seven years ago to get away from the violence south of the border. His parents sacrificed their careers-- his Dad was a teacher, his mom a business owner-- for the safety of their family.“They are very proud, and they are still working in the field, and they don’t want to stop until my younger brother graduates college. If I can help out, I will.”Now he is in a position to help his family financially.Ibarra-Hurtado and Marin are two of the seven college students who participated in the Department of the Army’s Pathways internship program at Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) in the 2019/2020 school year.“They have this unique opportunity to work with experienced engineers, military personnel on multi-million dollar projects that they just wouldn’t have this early in their career at other locations” explains Iris Espinoza, program manager.“When I was about to graduate, I was looking for jobs and it was not easy,” said Ibarra-Hurtado. “There was only a few positions in Yuma, and almost all of them required two to four years of experience.”Without this program, he would have had to leave Yuma to gain experience, and then possibly return if he found a job.Thanks to the Pathways program, though, Ibarra-Hurtado started his full-time internship in 2018. During that time he completed this Associates in Computer Science at Arizona Western College, then transferred to the University of Arizona (UofA) where he took cyber operations classes online. In December 2019 he earned his Bachelor’s in Cyber Operations with an emphasis in forensics and defenses.Marin graduated in May with a Bachelor’s in Systems Engineering and now has a year of work experience because she interned full-time with YPG’s Combat and Automotive Division.“The fact that I already had something waiting for me meant a lot, because I am not stressing out. So for me that outweighs anything else.” Marin adds, “I wasn’t sure what a systems engineer could do for work because it seemed so general. Working here really applies well with what I studied. A lot of the work has to do with reports, scheduling, and managing.”Both Marin and Ibarra-Hurtado now have full-time careers at YPG.Espinoza explains that this program is not solely for local students, even though it is great to invest in our community.“YPG has hired paid interns for many years now from all over the country. One student even drove here from Florida. Students have the option to work during the summer and winter breaks. If they live locally, they can work full-time while finishing their degree.”She notes that YPG’s collaboration with Tonya Hodges and Sam Peffers with UofA and with the local high school is what makes this program successful.For high school or college students who are interested in the Pathways program, Espinoza recommends they speak with their school career advisor and also create a USA Jobs account so they can search and apply for opportunities. They must be at least 18 years old and a current college student.As for Marin and Ibarra-Hurtado, they are happy to have started their careers at YPG.“I couldn’t have thought of anything better,” said Marin. “I like what I do.”“I don’t’ want to stop, said Ibarra-Hurtado. “I want to get my Masters.”