“You are the leaders of tomorrow but you are also the leaders of today. Find the spark in each one of you,” Alison Suffet Diaz, ECS founder and executive director, opened with words of inspiration to the students.
On November 10, Environmental Charter High School hosted their 10th Annual Career Day, “Connect for Success,” Presented by ReGreen. The day featured more than 60 professionals from politics, environmental causes, sports, green and non-profit industries, entrepreneurs and local Los Angeles businesses, and also offered a full, interactive schedule of speaker sessions and workshops.
Ninth and 10th graders filled up the amphitheater to hear keynote speaker Thomas Williams, a former USC and NFL player turned author and motivational speaker. Williams, who transitioned from game-changer to life-changer, faced challenges at a young age that molded his work ethic and attitude to arrive at his accomplishments.
“I had one defining moment – When I was in sixth grade, my teacher told my mom that I would be shot, stabbed or the leader of a gang by the time I was 16. I saw my mom cry and that night, I prayed to God that one day I would bring tears of joy to my mom’s eyes instead of tears of sadness. From that point, I was all in to try to become a person of character,” Williams shared with the students. “I made my mom a promise that I’d be the first to go to college.”
Williams also quoted the great poet Maya Angelou and advised the students to “Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.”
The annual Career Day is implemented as part of Environmental Charter Schools’ commitment to provide students with real-world experiences that supplement classroom and textbook learning.
A key goal of Career Day is to connect students to mentors representing different sectors and organizations. Students in the 12th grade participated in a special Connections session, which helped them network with potential mentors and contacts related to their areas of interests and focused studies. The spectrum of speakers represented a wide range of industries and practice, including: law enforcement, non-profit, environmental, engineering, universities, sports, mental health, automotive, city government, National Parks, real estate, architectural, legal, healthcare, the arts and more. The full list of speakers from Career Day can be found here.
ReGreen is a sponsor of the ECHS College & Career Initiative, which includes Career Day. ReGreen as well as comprehensive and high-quality college-prep offerings to students. As of May 2016, 97 percent of ECHS seniors were accepted into four-year colleges, compared to 33 percent among students with similar demographics or similar surrounding communities. Seventy-eight percent of ECS students are the first generation in their families to attend college. Additionally, ReGreen supports programming, which offers ECHS students real-world experience in green industries. They also support the ECHS Green Ambassadors Institute interns during their sustainability audits of local businesses.
Comedian Ron G led a workshop called “Finding Your Passion,” urging students to get out of their comfort zone to experience “where amazing happens.” Ron G challenged students to navigate technology “like no other” and to “lose the necessity for instant gratification,” he told students not to accept no for an answer and to explore beyond the internet to find the answers they seek. ReGreen, Dogeared, Cuningham Group and EmpowHER also hosted speaker tracks in their special content areas.
Career Day speakers and guests also had an opportunity to network and connect with one another over a lunch provided by Hummus House. During lunch, guests heard presentations from ECHS Green Ambassadors Interns who spoke about their community engagement efforts, and from Chad Clark from ReGreen who spoke about their partnership with ECS.
See more photos from ECHS Career Day 2016.