There may be a perception that growing up in the Central Valley somehow puts young people at a disadvantage. Don't tell that to Adrian Clarke.
Clarke is a very successful engineer living in San Francisco. He works for GHD, an international network of engineers, architects, and environmental scientists.
One of Clarke's current projects is working on the San Francisco 49ers' new stadium in Santa Clara. His employer is responsible for some of the underground engineering and construction elements. They are also responsible for three foot bridges connecting the stadium to parking that will be shared with Great America, which is next door to the stadium.
Clarke was born and raised in Los Banos. He went through Los Banos public schools and graduated from Los Banos High School.
He recently said he had a very solid education in Los Banos and competed well with students from California's large metropolitan areas when he entered college.
After graduation from high school, Clarke stayed right here in the Central Valley for his college education, attending the University of the Pacific in Stockton. He majored in engineering. One reason he chose UOP was its co-op program for engineering students.
Students complete an internship with an engineering firm for part of their sophomore year and again for seven months during their senior year. This gives students an opportunity to get real-world engineering experience.
At the same time, employers are able to better evaluate students for possible future employment. This is a win-win situation for both parties.
Clarke was hired by the firm that gave him his senior-year intern experience. It recognized his tremendous potential. That firm was later acquired by GHD, his current employer.
Along with his solid high school and university education, Clarke's talent and work ethic has allowed him to progress rapidly within his company. At just 32 years of age, he has young engineers under his tutelage. In addition, he has earned the enviable responsibility of evaluating engineering projects for his firm to bid on.
Towns and cities up and down the valley do a fine job of developing and nurturing tomorrow's citizens.
Highly talented farmers and dairymen raised here help the valley thrive. We also do a very good job shaping doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants and engineers such as Adrian Clarke, as well as all of the other occupations needed by our complex society.
We have a quality of life here in the valley that all can celebrate. Families here do a commendable job raising children. Our communities provide the resources to make this possible. The thousands of very successful people up and down the San Joaquin Valley make us proud to live here.
Arkfeld, of Los Banos, is a retired teacher.