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Professionals Guiding Azusa Youth

On Monday, February 10, 2014, many youth across Azusa slept in on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday except for seven bright-eyed and bushy-tailed high school students. They awoke ready to interrogate the region’s best professionals. Based on a career assessment and their interests, students selected up to four fields and prepared questions to ascertain their suitability for the career.

We fought our way through traffic to our first stop, Koreatown in Los Angeles, to the Asian Pacific Recovery facility to speak with a social worker. The students conducted their interview in a counseling session room, administered a sample mental status assessment, and visited a live-in care facility.

Some highlight questions were: “What are your most difficult types of cases?” “What are the different kinds of agencies that hire social workers?” “Why did you pursue a career in social work” They busily took notes as they contemplated a career in the field. We took advantage of our location next to many eateries and had an icee with green tea ice cream and red bean paste and dim sum. “Ah! All I can taste are los frijoles!” reacted one student, shocked by the unusual mixture of flavors (in her opinion).

Next, we made our way back to Azusa to visit the Community Counseling Center run by Azusa Pacific University. We spoke with Rachanee Jackson, PsyD student of Clinical Psychology, who shared her journey from undergraduate to doctoral work. “What are some important skills to develop in high school for college level work?” “What opportunities are there in the field of psychology with a bachelor’s degree?” “How long is your program?”

With a short nap, we charged over to the Office of General Counsel of Azusa Pacific University to speak with Assistant General Counsel, Brenda Young. She shared the wide array of experiences that the legal field can offer from a television network to a nationally recognized university. They learned how writing skills play a daily part in contract, policy, and procedure writing. “What types of undergraduate degrees prepare you well for law school?” “What types of internships should I look for during my undergraduate career?

We ended our evening in our local police department with Corporal Sandoval and Officer Muñoz who informed us about the application process, opportunities for young adults to serve, and what degrees new hires are walking in with. We learned about the many personal struggles law enforcement face with long hours, night shifts, and working holidays. “What skills are needed to be a good police officer?” “Should I apply to just one police department?” “Are there many females in law enforcement?” “Why are police officers always seen at donut shops?” Corporal Sandoval humored us with a response: “When an officer is on a graveyard shift, what places of business are usually open?” We all nodded and chuckled. :)

Later on in the week, a ninth grade student met with Paul Atkinson from Veolia Environmental Services to discuss options in the field of chemical engineering. The student is enrolled in Pre-Calculus and interested in the field of engineering. "Is it difficult to manage your personal and work life in this field?" "Does the field of engineering require a lot of teamwork or more independent work?" Mr. Atkinson discussed the importance of collaboration for data and formula checks given the hazardous materials his facility handles.

The week ended at the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District with two civil engineers interns, Nancy Duran and Alondra. They shared about their journey through their undergraduate education and what steps they took in high school to prepare them. We discussed the importance of networking in finding an internship. We learned about the specializations in civil engineering during graduate work. "Get involved on your school campus," Alondra encouraged the student.

Another student braved the campus of Azusa Pacific University to meet with Dr. Robert Duke from the Department of Biblical Studies who has done some biblical excavations in the Middle East. They discussed the field of Archaeology and opportunities in higher education. She learned about the emphasis on research, flexible work periods, and opportunities for international travel.

The week was very enlightening in terms of learning why our students are interested in their prospective fields. "I would like to return to the hometown of my parents in Mexico and help rebuild the infrastructure," explained one student regarding his interest in civil engineering. "I would like to be able to help others like I have been helped in my youth," replied another. We are excited to be on this journey with our students!

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