The 2020 Pathways to Success event filled the SBC Fair with more than 3,000 high school students who connected with local manufacturers and Victor Valley College representatives to learn about various career opportunities.
The annual event was held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, featuring dozens of exhibits highlighting some of the region’s top industries.
A handful of the information tables at the event represented VVC career education programs, including automotive, aviation, criminal justice, medical assistant, restaurant management and respiratory therapy.
“The message we share with students is to try different things … We want to aim them toward a career,” said Automotive/Industrial Technologies faculty member Steven Coultas. “We’ve gotten a lot of exposure to new students, particularly those at high schools without an automotive program.”
According to a statement on First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood’s website, the aim of Pathways to Success is to both “broaden the awareness” of manufacturing in the High Desert and to establish networking between business leaders, training providers and students.
VVC aviation instructor Ricardo Flores said the event allowed him to connect not only with students, but with local school district officials as well.
“There have been a lot of faculty members from other schools interested in learning more about our programs, which is great,” Flores said. “We’re sharing with them and with students what our programs are, what to expect and what opportunities it can lead to.”
The restaurant management program from VVC was also a popular table, where Department Chair Tyler Busch and student volunteers were handing out samples of chips and salsa along with brochures to students who stopped by.
“This event is a lot bigger than it was a few years ago, and that’s so cool to see for us in Career Education,” Busch said. “It’s so important to us for students to know they don’t have to go to a four-year college and spend six years of their life and lots of money … to have a successful career. They can go into a trade — that’s the backbone of this country.”
Administration of Justice Director Rand Padgett said that students were more engaged than ever and very “inquisitive” throughout the event this year.
“One of the best things is that some of them who’ve come up are already enrolled in our dual enrollment classes for criminal justice,” Padgett said, noting that Adelanto, Granite Hills, Oak Hills and Victor Valley high schools all offer college-level criminal justice classes.
Patrick Schlosser, Assistant Superintendent for Apple Valley Unified School District, said the district had about 300 students at Pathways to Success, an event they prioritize each year.
“A lot of vendors here today are industry partners for us … This sends our students back to school with a sense of purpose,” Schlosser said.
Larry Porras and Michael Everett, principles of Oak Hills and Hesperia high schools, respectively, echoed the same sentiment, adding that the event allows students to meet real people from various industries.
“It’s important for our students to have that face-to-face time with different career opportunities,” Evertt said.
Porras added that “the interaction they have opens their minds” to paths they may not otherwise have considered.
Sean Cullen, a clinical instructor of respiratory therapy at VVC, noted that many of the students he spoke with during the event didn’t know what respiratory therapy was.
“When most people think about entering the medical field, they only think about nursing. So we’re able to open their eyes to another opportunity and give them some insight about our program,” Cullen said.
Violet Rodarte, a student volunteer representing VVC’s medical assistant program, said they had a lot of students express interest in their program at the event.
“I love the way they light up as we’re talking to them,” Rodarte said. “For me, I know that when I was younger, I would have taken this class a lot sooner if someone had told me about it.”
Pathways to Success is part of the “Made in the High Desert” showcase, which is put on in collaboration by San Bernardino County and Victor Valley Motors.