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Students consider career options, paths to college at Career Industry Day

Los Banos High School sophomore Susannah Gomez attempts Thursday to pull an object out during a game of Operation at the Merced County Office of Education's annual Career Industry Day at the Merced County Fairgrounds.
Los Banos High School sophomore Susannah Gomez attempts Thursday to pull an object out during a game of Operation at the Merced County Office of Education's annual Career Industry Day at the Merced County Fairgrounds. akuhn@mercedsunstar.com

Playing a life-size Operation game, learning about 3-D imaging, making ice cream, petting goats and watching CPR demonstrations.

Those are just a few things more than 1,200 sophomores from schools across the county learned about Thursday at Merced County Office of Education’s Career Industry Day. About 150 exhibitors, including 15 colleges and trade schools and a variety of industry organizations and businesses, spoke to students about their jobs and answered questions at the Merced County Fairgrounds.

Janice Rogge, a program specialist for Regional Occupation Program at the county office, said the event focused on sophomores because that’s when students begin exploring career options.

“Our hope is that as the students learn more about careers in every one of their classes they can get experience and ideas here to make connections,” Rogge said.

Cipriana Beltran and Vanessa Bonilla from Pacheco High School in Los Banos spent some time learning to make boutonnieres from the Livingston ROP floral design booth. The girls said the hands-on experience allows students to sample the work and understand the skills needed.

They were eager to visit other booths and said they liked the variety of industries represented at the event.

“We’re trying to find information for after high school about what our options are,” Bonilla said.

The event also catered to students who had plans after high school and wanted to learn about the path to get there. Nicholas Parolini, from Golden Valley High in Merced, said he hopes to become a mechanical engineer after college. “It’s been really helpful,” he said. “I was able to figure out a wide range of opportunities that I can do as soon as I exit college.”

Bryanna Turner, a 19-year-old recent graduate from Golden Valley said the event helped her get a job. The Riggs Ambulance Service booth piqued her interest when she attended. She asked a lot of questions and researched the company after the event. This year, she attended the event as an exhibitor for Riggs, hoping to help students find their future career.

“It shows that if you choose something and stick to it, you could be there in no time,” Turner said.

Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477

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