Days in advance of my Career Day presentation, while I was fretting about what to say to the students at Selma Avenue Elementary School, my brother, who works with children frequently, suggested that I stick to superheroes. I dismissed the idea.
Yet, I am not the most articulate public speaker, so I struggled to relay the details of my career to Amy Genut’s fifth-grade class last Thursday. Thankfully, she likened my job to that of Peter Parker, and naturally, the class perked up.
“So, you might be Spider-Man?” a student asked, and so began a day of relating my work to superheroes.
I was among several people to attend Career Day at the school on May 23. The other professionals in attendance were an artist, a lawyer, a healthcare worker and future firefighters. We discussed our careers with three classes each, and fielded questions from the inquisitive students.
Knowing that elementary school students have an innocent love for being in the newspaper, I opted to interview students during my presentation and take photos of the class — one scholarly and one goofy.
“I think that it’s a good idea,” Michael Torres, 10, said of career day, adding that he wants to be a pilot. “We’re learning about other jobs and what we could be.”
Umberto Hernandez, 11, agreed. He wants to be a professional football player after college.
“It’s cool because other kids can learn what they want to be,” Umberto said.
Cristol Escoto said he wanted to be a soccer player after his schooling is complete. When asked why, he said, “Because I’m good at it.” However, he also enjoyed career day.
“It’s awesome because I get to meet people that actually graduated from college and stuff,” Cristol said.
After the presentations, students escorted the presenters to their next classroom. In Carrie Berger’s fourth-grade class, I found students who were eager to know more about the Beverly Press’ coverage of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremonies.
I told them I recently took Samuel L. Jackson’s photo, and the students drew a blank — that is, until Ms. Berger referenced his role as Ultimate Nick Fury in “The Avengers”. Then, I knew they would recognize another Walk-of-Famer, Scarlett Johansson, who also starred in the film as Black Widow.
Josue Xicara, 9, said he enjoyed Career Day and wants to be a firefighter after his schooling.
“It’s fun,” he said. “I think that it’s a good for us to learn that what we want to do with our education.”
Ashly Palacios, who hopes to be an author, agreed.
“I think that Career Day is a good day for us to experience the life of somebody else to see what job we might want,” she said.
Nine-year-old Abraham Martinez said he hopes to be a police officer, but enjoyed hearing about other professions.
“I think career day is day to get a head-start on what you want to be,” he said.
Armed with copies of the newspaper, I was again escorted to another class. Jamie Boran’s class was a mix of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders who had studied ethics and could partially relate to the dilemmas that journalists sometimes encounter.
Kahliyah Williams, 11, wasn’t sure what she wanted to be, but she was leaning toward being a chiropractor.
“It’s fun because there’s a lot of people — there’s a lot of people in jobs that I didn’t know existed,” she said.
Danielle Cannon-Dominguez, 10, wanted to be an actress.
“I think that it has been cool because it’s my first career day,” she added.
Nine-year-old James Aguilar is aiming to be a “famous” baseball player, and his favorite team is the Dodgers.
“It’s really fun that we can see people doing jobs that before I never even knew about,” he said.
The presenters seemed to enjoy themselves as well. My trepidation for public speaking aside, I know I certainly did.
“Career Day is important, and [giving] back to our kids is what we need to do,” said Carla Najar-Navarro, of LAFD Cadet Post 12. She attended with cadets Daniel Skinner and Giuseppe Martorana. “They’re our future.”
Merlyn Hernandez, of the Law Offices of Merlyn Hernandez, said the event was one of the best she’s attended in a while.
“It’s inspiring to see how bright they are, and they already have questions about careers,” she said, adding that the students had “really interesting questions” for her. “I like that; they’re already thinking ahead.”
Christina Lai, a patient care service aide for Children Hospital Los Angeles, agreed.
“I feel the kids are our future, and being here does make a difference,” she said. “I want to be inspirational, and I do want to impact their lives.”
The artist in attendance was Nathan Horner, who works for Imagic, a printing and graphics company in Burbank.
Principal Glendy Marin said she was pleased with the response to the school’s first-ever Career Day. She said the idea for the event came from the contrasts she noticed between students who had moved on from elementary school; in some cases, they were graduating college, while in others, students had been placed in juvenile hall.
“That really broke my heart,” Marin said, adding that the positive stories are equally uplifting. “That’s why I think it’s so important that our commitment begins now.”
She was the youngest of eight siblings, and was the first among them to graduate college. Marin said she was also the first person in her family to get a master’s degree. Her students, she said, have similar hurdles to overcome.
“I feel that the younger we bring that awareness to students … [the more it will] promote some goal setting and thinking about careers,” Marin added.
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