The Porterville Unified School District Pathways Department held its annual Mentors Conference for over more than 700 11th grade Pathway students on Wednesday.

The Mentors Conference is a chance for Pathway students to meet business and industry leaders and learn about personal growth, workplace effectiveness, and preparing for their future. This large event is normally held in person in April, but was postponed due to COVID-19.

Since students are still at home through distance learning, the Mentors Conference was held virtually in partnership with Nepris.com. All of the speakers for the Mentors Conference spoke to the students from their places of work or home.

It was an incredible experience for students to hear from a variety of professionals and pathway alumni,” said Cynthia Brown, Director of Student Pathways.

Porterville native Laura Garcia was the keynote speaker. She's the anchor of the NBC Bay Area weekday morning show in San Jose. Garcia attended St. Anne's School and Monache High School.

Garcia spoke of her own professional journey, while encouraging students to take every opportunity presented to them, and to strive to do their current job the best they can before moving forward.

After Garcia’s presentation, Pathway students heard from a variety of speakers during breakout sessions. There were presentations from AT&T, Tallo organization, Verizon and former NFL Football player Tyrone Smith of First & Goal. Topics that were covered included preparing yourself for an interview, how to get the most out of an internship, workplace ethics, and having good customer service skills. Students were able to interact with presenters by asking questions and getting feedback.

The Mentors Conference ended with a Pathway Alumni panel discussion, where alumni joined virtually from as close as Porterville to an oil rig off the Gulf of Mexico. The alumni panel discussed how their Pathway and high school experience prepared them for college and a future career. Ray Lopez, a petroleum engineer, told the students: “Start seeking opportunities right now.”

Pete Guererro, a Porterville Police officer, encouraged the studentst o “Find something that best suits you!”

Also included on the Pathway Alumni panel were Morgan Martinez, who currently attends UC Berkeley; and Yessenia Ramos, who's attending Rice University.

The PUSD Pathways program offers high school students a chance to prepare for college and a career through ian ntegrated curriculum and work-based learning opportunities.

Incoming freshmen for the fall of 2021 are encouraged to apply for one of 14 Pathway programs. Visit pathways.portervilleschools.org for more information and to apply online.

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