Local 2017 Career Day gave students new work ideas
By Jo Moreland
Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce
Almost 900 middle school students explored possible future employment on March 31st at the 2017 Career Day for the Alpine and Mountain Empire School districts!
It was the third year the Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce worked with the districts to give students in rural southeast San Diego County an opportunity to expand their horizons and prepare for their futures.
Twenty businesses, organizations and agencies spent the morning at Joan MacQueen Middle School, 2001 Tavern Road, helping the excited 6th, 7th and 8th-graders discover new employment possibilities.
“It’s nice to be able to see all the different careers,” said Nury Ulloa, a Mountain Empire Unified School District eighth-grader. “The Art Institute (of California) kind of persuaded me towards art.”
Another Mountain Empire student, seventh-grader Abraham Peneulas, said he was interested in working for the U.S. Border Patrol.
Guest speaker Kathleen “Casey” Kinnally, a research scientist and retired Professor Emeritus of New York University, encouraged the students to stay in school and study STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics) courses so they can pursue all kinds of careers.
“Science is part of your day ---- every day,” Kinnally told the young people. “Stay in school, take STEM classes.”
Kinnally started out as a registered nurse. She became a research scientist, cancer biologist and professor with a national and international career. After working in health care, education research and animal care, Kinnally is now a volunteer at the San Diego Zoo.
“You could be an FBI agent or something else,” she told the students. “It’s not too early to think about this.”
Barons Market was the Career Day sponsor. The business provided free continental breakfast pastries and fruit, coffee and bottled water for the event presenters as well as school and Chamber staff.
Alpine Barons Market Manager Bob Ring, whose table was very popular, noted that the Career Days are a way to work toward better prepared employees in the future.
“Career Day starts to allow the students to think about college and their careers,” said Joan MacQueen Principal Theresa Meyerott. “School has a purpose for them now.”
The districts prepared students in advance for the event. The young people also have to report back to classes about their Career Day experience.
“We’re all proud of you,” Mountain Empire Superintendent Kathy Granger told her classes.
Students asked the presenters and Kinnally all kinds of questions about what they liked most about their work, how much money they make, what their business does and more.
Some petted the mixed-breed baby goat at The Children’s Nature Retreat table. Others checked out the U.S. Forest Service fire truck and other emergency vehicles. State Senator Joel Anderson’s staff had information about how to become a legislator.
Anderson, who lives in Alpine, stopped by briefly to talk with students and participants.
“I think this is a really good opportunity to explore and open up my mind to more options,” said Alpine seventh-grader Kaitlan Rocca.
The Alpine Fire Protection District, Back Country Land Trust, Country Pet Hospital, Dana’s Boutique, Dr. Mark Tapscott, Jeff Campbell & Associates, Kamps Propane, Mercy Medical Transportation, Mountain Health & Community Services also participated.
So did the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, Starlight Technical Support, State Farm Insurance ---- Laurie Hallihan and St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center.
Chamber President/CEO Mary Rynearson gave all the presenters, Kinnally and both school districts certificates recognizing their Career Day participation and student support.
“It’s pretty fun here,” said Alpine sixth grader Willum Markley. “It’s cool, too.”