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10th grade high school students from the North Hollywood area visit California State University Los Angeles to hear, and learn first-hand, from professionals in various career fields.

Contributing Writer: Felix I. Hernandez/SYNERGi

In partnership with Project STEPS, Families In Schools (FIS) geared up to offer hundreds of high school students and their parents, vivid insights into various potential careers.

As the set-up crew added the finishing touches, the bustling of several school buses began to fill the California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) drop off area. Program coordinators and directors greeted students and their families, while continental breakfast pastries and refreshments were placed along the gathering area for guests to fuel up for a morning of back to back career sessions.

Project STEPS is a federally funded program that supports students and their families throughout high school and into college by providing a unique set of services, including academic support, college information, and individualized college planning.

An important focal area of Project STEPS is to encourage parents to participate in all workshops offered to students. In keeping with this philosophy, parents at today’s event served as a key audience alongside their children.

The annual family conference kicked off with two highly respected, professional women of color who shared the honor of serving as keynote speakers to those in attendance.

Half of the group was privileged to hear CSULA’s Senior Director of External Relations, Ms. Maryann Reyes Jackmon, while the other half had the honor of listening to the inspirational words of Ms. Yadira Bribiesca, Mentor Coordinator for GEAR UP 4 LA at Belmont High School.

Ms. Reyes Jackmon shared personal experiences and struggles of early childhood life working in the agricultural fields. “My siblings and I did not have it easy growing up, we had to work hard both in school and to help make ends meet at home,” said Ms. Reyes Jackmon.

Ms. Bribiesca shared her personal story of being raised by a single mother, and migrating to the United States. She encouraged a group of 10th grade students by saying, “…don’t ever give up on your goals…you don’t have to know what career you want while in high school. You might end up changing you mind in college, which is no problem at all.”

Although both keynote speakers shared their different levels of strife growing up, both equally emphasized their common ground, and steadfast focus and determination, on the importance of a sound mix of access to quality education, and parental support for academic excellence. In both of their respective speeches, the speakers concurred that this mixture ultimately led them both, and their respective siblings, to greater economic, social, and overall well-being.

In addition to the plenary session, students and their parents had the opportunity to attend two of the following breakout sessions:

  • The Baja California Field Studies Program – Glendale Community College
  • Careers in STEM
  • Careers in Education
  • Non-Traditional Career Paths
  • Careers in Sports
  • Careers in Business

In attendance was FIS Executive Director & President, Oscar E. Cruz, who brought his toddler to the conference. “It is profoundly rewarding to see the active participation of so many parents in the academic lives of their children,” said Mr. Cruz.

“Today’s conference is a fresh breath of air to the many hopeful parents and students who may have never contemplated thinking beyond traditional job prospects, nor would have found out about available resources and workshops that exist to aid parents and students,” added Mr. Cruz.

The annual family conference concluded with a tour of the CSULA campus, and a hearty lunch. Students in attendance left with many giveaway gifts including Families In Schools’ backpacks, bilingual “How to Get to College” posters, and the CSU Fact Book, both produced by the CSU system.

The mission of FIS is to involve parents and communities in their children’s education to achieve life long success. And on this day, the FIS mission experienced another example of success. Students and their families in attendance took benefit from the information received, learned about the many career opportunities that exist, and found out about the many resources available that help students from start to finish.

The career exploration conference was made possible in partnership by Families In Schools, GEAR UP, Project STEPS, California State University Los Angeles, and the California Student Opportunity & Access Program (Cal-SOAP).

To learn more about partnership opportunities with Families In Schools visit http://www.familiesinschools.org/family-school-partnerships/.

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