Thousands of students piled into the Fresno Convention Center to explore hundreds of career opportunities Wednesday at the 2016 Career Tech Expo.
The Fresno County Office of Education and community partners put up 165 booths so the expected 4,000 who came could check out the various college institutions, trade schools and businesses.
“It’s remarkable to see the kids and their reactions,” said Jim Yovino, county superintendent of schools. “We just want kids to see the possibilities.”
Students had the opportunity to check out work like welding, jobs with Pacific Gas and Electric Co., careers in law enforcement, trying their hands at cementing, and even cutting open cow hearts while looking at medical careers.
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Josue Gomez, a 17-year-old Mendota High School senior, was among those cutting a cow heart open – and among those pondering options. “First, I wanted to be a doctor or a surgeon, but recently I’ve been getting a lot into politics,” Gomez said. “But this is really interesting.”
Somehow you’re expected to know what you’re going to do at 17.
Kelly Eichmann, medical careers instructor
The cow hearts, which were donated by Harris Ranch, were part of a new feature at the expo this year, and it gave students in the Fresno County Career Technical Education Regional Occupational Program a chance to learn how hearts work from a medical doctor.
“Somehow you’re expected to know what you’re going to do at 17, and this class exposes and inspires them to consider the allied health field,” said Kelly Eichmann, a medical careers instructor with Clovis Unified. “We hope that they’ll be taking care of us someday.”
The ROP classes give juniors and seniors the chance to work in the medical field to gain experience that counts toward college credits. Classes such as the ones that put them in local hospitals alongside professionals are something the students take on in addition to their normal courses.
“It’s cool to have them exposed to this,” said Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp, who was passing through the heart-dissection room. “I think they should do whatever their passion tells them to do. No matter what type of education they receive, and no matter what path they take, it’s always a great thing. Any education is a great opportunity.”
College is important – regular traditional college. There are many jobs that don’t require that pathway. There’s another way to get there.
Jim Yovino, Fresno County schools superintendent
All 130 kids who’d signed up to participate got to try their hands at slicing open a cow heart and examining the interior.
Yovino walked the Convention Center talking to people about the different types of booths set up.
“I don’t know how you knew what you wanted to do, but I know I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I actually saw people doing it,” Yovino said. “College is important – regular, traditional college. There are many jobs that don’t require that pathway. There’s another way to get there.”