A student tries on fire fighting gear before trying out the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department’s live water hose demonstration. (Photo: Jen Kimble/MLF)
Remember what you wanted to be when you grew up? I do. As a kid, I went through many of the same careers most of us muse about: fireman, astronaut … race driver (thanks to my dad, who was a semi-pro driver at the time). As I got into high school, those changed as realities changed. By the time I got to college, however, at least a few of the paths I looked at in high school were still on the table. Career Day was a big help in focusing my future.
Kids today have a lot of technology at their fingertips, but due to the spread out geography in Mono County, students have only recently been able to put their boots on the ground in a Career Day environment. Cerro Coso College Director Deanna Campbell has conducted three of the last four years of Career Days, but this year, the college staged its largest ever edition on Friday, Sept. 24.
Public and independent schools from across the county were invited and more than 450 students participated in a packed program that featured 13 separate panels made up of more than 40 volunteers. All of the volunteers were local business people or professionals, except one group from a beauty academy that came in from Reno, Nev.
Campbell said she received 100 percent attendance from all the County’s schools.
Career Day was, in its first iteration, only open to seniors, but was later expanded to both seniors and juniors. Campbell said this year the bold move was made to bring in grades 9-12.
“This is the most ever in terms of students and panels,” Campbell said. “Consequently, we had to make some alterations in the schedule that we’re trying out this year.” Students were randomly assigned to one of the 13 panels during each session.
“The idea is to give the students exposure and exploration, help develop pathways, and let the students share their experiences,” Campbell added.
Sessions were held inside and outside. Classrooms and other settings featured presentations on a wide range of careers, including Human Services, Construction, Health careers, Green jobs, Law and Legal professions, Biology, and Business and Hospitality, an important one, given our tourism/services-based economy.
The Arts were also represented, with sessions on Videography and Media, Music and related careers (presented by the Felici Trio) and Theatre and Performing Arts (presented by actors, directors and producers Shira Dubrovner and Kevin Worden).
Outside, various Law Enforcement, Fire and Paramedic sessions included hands-on gear demonstrations (see photo).
The format will be evaluated and fine-tuned for next year’s Career Day. Some students were lukewarm on the random assignment format, but others thought it worked great. Several teachers said they liked getting the students to meet their peers and get exposed to various career paths.
Cerro Coso and Mammoth High School provided lunch, prepared by Mammoth High School volunteers. Mammoth Unified School District Superintendent Rich Boccia and Mammoth High School Principal Gabe Solorio manned the grill, turning out hot dogs and hamburgers for 500 students and teaching staff. Even out of county schools pitched in. Lunch, for instance, was funded through SB70 grant money donated by the Kern Community College District.
Boccia said cooking for 500 was easy compared to 750 cyclists during his recent stint as “Grill Daddy” during the Fall Century Ride. “It’s all a day in the life,” he said with a smile.
Students also got a look at the college’s new student housing complex. A year in the planning, Campbell said the event was a true example of collaboration between the College, Mammoth Lakes Foundation, Mono County Office of Education, the Mono County School Districts and the community.
“Thank you to everyone for their contributions! We were thrilled about this unprecedented event and serving the more than 450 high school students in Mono County,” Campbell said.