Education

Thousands of students fill Fresno Convention Center for Tech Expo

Plumbers, Pipe and Refrigeration Fitters instructor Jonhenry Lopez, 44, left, works on a soldering project for plumbing with Antonio Lopez, 17, of Riverdale High School, at the annual Central Valley Career Tech Expo on Wednesday at the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall.
Plumbers, Pipe and Refrigeration Fitters instructor Jonhenry Lopez, 44, left, works on a soldering project for plumbing with Antonio Lopez, 17, of Riverdale High School, at the annual Central Valley Career Tech Expo on Wednesday at the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall. sflores@fresnobee.com

Thousands of students, young adults and even some parents packed into the Fresno Convention Center on Wednesday to explore possible careers at the third annual Career Tech Expo.

The Fresno County Office of Education puts on the event each year to show high school students how many work options are open to them when they graduate.

Jose Saldana, 17, with Tranquillity High School, was one of those exploring careers. He’d like to get into some form of law enforcement.

“There’s a lot of different options here – jobs and careers,” he noted.

The most important function of the expo is getting kids engaged so they can find something they might not know that they wanted to do, said Jim Yovino, Fresno County schools superintendent.

Yovino said that the event has been growing steadily since it started. He was expecting 4,000 to 5,000 attendees.

“It resonated with kids and the community and parents,” Yovino said.

With more than 140 business participating to talk with the kids, the fields of work options were all across the spectrum.

Options ranged from medical careers, automotive, cosmetology, various trades, construction, hospitality, tourism, law enforcement, manufacturing, agriculture and more.

Yovino said that there are many other options than just going to a four-year college.

Many of the businesses set up at the expo require only a high school diploma to get in the door with the company. Yovino said many companies have their own training programs that don’t require kids to go to college.

Greg Barragan, a welding instructor with Fresno County’s court schools – like juvenile hall – loves working with kids and enjoys showing them how they can make something of their lives outside of a life in crime.

“I show them real-life futures,” Barragan said, “and people that have taken this trade and what they’ve done with it, what they own now, where they live, how much money they’ve got in the bank.”

Anthony Barajas, 16, a student at Madera South High School, said he came out with his school to see what kind of careers are available.

“I was thinking about doing construction work or becoming a teacher,” he said.

Barajas had the opportunity to practice welding at the expo. His girlfriend, Olivia Aguilar, 15, said she was interested in Fresno City College’s radiology booth.

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