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Tabling at Santa Maria High School career fair on October 12 was such a refreshing experience. We were welcomed by gusty winds, and a well-organized staff who had taken the time to set up a delicious continental breakfast for all attendees.

Shortly after we arrived, students began rolling into the career fair space. Interacting with freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors was inspirational in so many levels. Although we intended on guiding the students through our table in a certain order, creating room for spontaneity definitely paid off! Students wanted to engage and go deeper on topics such as job training, and so by adjusting our game plan we accomplished our goal of informing students and addressing their questions and concerns on a more personal level. We came prepared with information and activities such as: spinning a wheel of fortune with prompts for them to consider regarding ways that youth might be drawn to a military career such as “Travel and Meet New People?” They also voted in a penny poll, choosing to give funds in jars labeled “Environment”, “Education” or “Prisons”, for example. Finally we asked them to write their “Vision” in our comment book. For all this effort, they were complimented by wonderful prizes a: “Question Authority” bracelet, political buttons and of course community service opportunities!

As the waves of students came and went it is clear that our youth are hopeful, well-intended and have such big dreams! A good way to support them is by providing them with resources that allow them to make informed choices regardless off the career path they may choose. If I am super honest, listening to them chipped away some of the cynicism that has come with years of struggle. It was a much need reminder of the things I hoped for “when I grew up”, and can now achieve prepared with the knowledge that comes from years of experience. I certainly look forward for more opportunities to make connections with folks up in Santa Maria High, as several members of the staff appreciated our presence and wanted to get involved.

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