More than 40 post-high school opportunities were presented to Beyer High students Friday in the school’s first College, Career, Military Fair.
The event, teacher organizers said, is part of a strong effort to get students as early as their freshman year thinking about what they will do once they graduate. About 22 teachers make up the school’s College and Career Team, and putting on the fair was one of its goals this year.
The diverse field of presenters included public service (the Modesto Police Department, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office), health care (Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts, the California State University, Stanislaus, nursing program), agriculture (Hilmar Cheese, Stanislaus Farm Supply), branches of the military, and local colleges and vocational schools.
“We wanted to be sure to get agriculture, trade and construction represented, as well as colleges and universities students might attend if they choose to remain in this area,” said Kristy White, an agriculture teacher and instructional leader for the College and Career Team. To recruit presenters, teachers networked, reached out to parent entrepreneurs and surveyed students on what they were interested in learning.
Principal Dan Park said the school wanted to offer something for pretty much everyone, whether their interests are in joining the military, becoming a welder or electrician, or going on to college.
The fair was held in the gym, and students attended over four periods, separated by grade level. “I was worried about the freshmen, but they ate it up, they were engaged the entire time,” Park said. “A number of them were very engaged with the Police Department and the branches of service.”
Over about 45 minutes, they were urged to visit at least 10 tables, including one from each category – college, career and military. To ensure they did, the students carried checklists that had to be signed off by the presenters at the tables. “Many of the presenters said they won’t sign off unless the kids ask them a question,” White said.
She noted that several presenters have programs available to students immediately upon graduation. The District Attorney’s Office “is always looking for law clerks, and someone can get hired with just a high school diploma and the ability to type 45 words a minute,” she said. E.&J. Gallo Winery has a four-summer paid internship and scholarship program, she added, and Starbucks has an employee program that offers tuition reimbursement for students who take online Arizona State University courses.
Sophomore Laurel Denyer made a beeline for tables that had information on nursing careers. Her father is a paramedic and firefighter and she’s exploring a possible career as an ER/trauma nurse or another medical path. “I like exploring how the body works and how to fix what’s wrong,” said Denyer, who’s the Associated Student Body publicist. She added that some of her interest is driven by her own medical history, “a blood issue.”
Other sophomores, Jackie Khanna and Cierra Larson, said they saw of lot of students who appeared to be just gathering signatures, and some presenters who needed some prompting to offer much information. But they observed that the artistic/style/fashion presenters – such as Paul Mitchell the School, Adrian’s Beauty College, and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising – were very forthcoming. “They really gave you a lot of information,” Khanna said.
Larson also was impressed by her visit to the Modesto Junior College table. “The lady at MJC was really nice to me,” she said, “because I’m horrible at speaking to people.”
Melissa Gallo – “Like the winery, but not the same family,” she was quick to say – is a 22-year-old barista who was at the Starbucks table. The Modesto resident was there to tell students about the Starbucks College Achievement Plan in which she participates.
It encourages student employees to finish their bachelor degrees, with more than 40 ASU undergraduate degree programs – from business and retail to educational studies to electrical engineering – available.
Gallo said she’s an interdisciplinary studies major in criminal justice and business and already is being asked about the College Achievement Plan by co-workers. “There’s a lot of interest among other employees,” she said.