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The workforce of tomorrow
Event entices students to educational and career paths
This story was updated to correct the school that Adrianna Vallejos attends.
BARSTOW • Adrianna Vallejos is a ninth grader at Excelsior Charter Schools Barstow Campus who will soon complete a certificate in advanced welding through Barstow Community College.
This is just one of a handful of career pathways instructors from BCC’s Career Technical Education program highlighted Tuesday at Barstow High School’s 4th Annual Career Day.
“We’re going to have about 1,500 students come through and the reason why we do this is to give students in Barstow an opportunity to see all of the options available right here in their own backyard,” said Sara Kardouni, lead teacher for Mojave XP Academy, which sponsored the event.
“Most kids don’t realize there are civilian jobs on the Marine Corps Base — so we have people down there from the MCLB telling the kids about the job opportunities,” she said.
Others included the U.S. Army, BNSF, California Highway Patrol, Barstow Police Department, FIDM, Barstow Fire District and Barstow Community Hospital. Students were given stamp passports to motivate them to approach individual booths and ask questions.
“It’s a lot better than last year. It’s huge and the kids are pretty excited,” Kardouni said. “They can see the path from here — high school to adult life.”
Ronnie Garcia, Regional Manager for Field Safety and Support from BNSF, taught students about safety and careers.
“I came up through the ranks. I started off at the bottom. I was a switchman and became a locomotive engineer and then I went to management about 12 years ago,” Garcia said. “I tell the kids ‘Hey, don’t ever sell yourself short. You can start down at the bottom and work your way up.’”
BNSF is the fourth-largest employer in Barstow and is also a major contributor to the Mojave XP Academy, according to Chairman Lawrence Dale. The Mojave XP Academy trains students for careers in business, logistics and transportation.
Student Chris Irwin said he has benefited from the academy. Now a senior, he plans to become a welder when he graduates.
“I’ve learned there are more jobs open than what you think. Everyone here has their own individual take on it so it’s actually very refreshing and interesting,” Irwin said.
Another student, Esperanza Gallegos talked to several nurses from Barstow Community Hospital at their booth.
“It’s cool, I learned that in 2014 that the standards to be a nurse practitioner are going to be raised,” Gallegos said.
Amal Museitef, a Barstow High School graduate now working as a registered nurse, said she was pushing education and the benefits of becoming a nurse. She said she was happy to come back to her alma mater to share her story.
“I personally have been encouraging a four-year degree because that’s what I have and that’s what is going to become the standard,” Museitef said.
Barstow High School and Barstow Community College are partnering to allow students to take college courses while still in high school. The program would bus students from the high school and allow them to complete two to three college courses a semester, according to BHS Vice Principal Jose Rubio.
“When we do things like this our kids always seem to excel. They put on a good show,” Rubio said about Career Day.
Vocational programs at the college are also available to students as early as 7th grade, and range from automotive, cosmetology, welding, photography, child development, diesel and electrical.
“We’re partnering with grades K-12 to give kids a better understanding, to give them the skill trades to get the jobs that are out there,” Sandy Thomas, Director of Career Technical Education at BCC, said. “The neat thing is it’s free to Barstow High School students. So students at the high school level can come and start a degree or certificate in any of these.”