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Career choices presented at Whitmore Charter High students
26 presenters talk careers at charter high
CHP Olsen
California Highway Patrol Officer Tom Olsen talks to Whitmore Charter High School students Katie Osterhout and Madeline Wunschel during a career education event at their school. Olsen said he considers his job a community service outlet, not a career. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

If Whitmore Charter High School students didn't have a clue as to what career path they wish to take in life, they probably ruled out some and included others after a career faire held last Wednesday on campus.

A total of 26 presenters gave a brief overview of their career before an assembly of students in the multi-purpose room on the Berryhill campus. Students were then rotated through one-on-one discussions with the various business and professional workers ranging from local Starbucks managers to Ceres firefighters.

Nicholas Price of the SWAT team told students that his job "is a blast."

"This job is the most fun I've ever had," said Price. "If you guys like working outside and don't like being in a stuffy classroom, it might be for you. There's lots of options. We are peace officers. That's what we do is keep the peace."

Price said his job has something new every day. He recommended students riding along with an officer to get an idea of what it's like to be an officer.

Barb Seah of World Financial Groups talked about the importance of her job in educating people about finances.

"Everybody wants to learn how to make money but my question to you is what are you going to do with your money after you make it?" asked Seah. "This is a vital thing in our society because as you know the national debt is high but that trickles right down to personal debt and mismanagement of money. We've heard from doctors and lawyers ... but it's not a guarantee that ... they know what to do with their money. There are struggling doctors, there are struggling lawyers because they live way above their means and don't know the value of money. What we do is just educate people on the rules of money. What we want to do is eliminate this particular stressor in life. Money is the cause of a large percentage of marital problems, health problems and all that can be avoided with education."

She noted that most people hope to retire by age 65 but many don't because they didn't plan. One of her goals is to educate others to prepare for retirement.

"Do you realize that the statistic is that 75 percent of this country feels completely out of control with their money?" asked Seah.

Tom Olsen of the California Highway Patrol told students that law enforcement jobs are not for everybody.

"I know we're here for career day but law enforcement is not a career in my belief," said Olsen. "It's a calling. There's not a sheriff deputy in this room, a fireman in this room, military personnel in this room that did it for the money. We did it because it's a calling. We wanted to make a positive impact on our community. So if you don't want to save lives, this job is not for you. If you don't want to make that positive impact like I said, this job is not for you. If you don't like adrenaline rushes, this job is not for you."

His comments turned less serious when he said those not wanting eight weeks of vacation per year or retire at age 50 should not consider law enforcement. Olsen also talked about the ability to transfer anywhere in the state.

After the presentation he said that about one percent of applicants become CHP officers. Background checks knock many out of the running and the testing regimen is difficult. Olsen also said many find the CHP's live-in paramilitary academy to be a stressful experience and drop off, hence many successful candidates having a military background.

He explained that all roads are under the jurisdiction of the CHP and invited the kids to come outside and take a selfie in his CHP cruisers.

2015 Whitmore Charter High graduate Nevin Lemos came and spoke about dairy farming, claiming at age 21 to be the youngest dairy farmer in California. The Waterford dairyman was armed with a list of careers within the dairy industry, including veterinarians, milkers, feeders, lab technicians, electricians, welders and hoof trimmers.

Ceres firefighters Tyler Born, Dan Foster and Jacob Clinite stood by their polished Ceres Fire engine and dispensed information about their careers. Among them are caring for the engine, which costs under $1 million, as well as the equipment.

"It has to be in running condition all the time so when we're cleaning it it's easier to detect issues," said Born. "We're always maintaining it, cleaning it, inspecting it."

Firefighters had interesting responses when one student asked for their most memorable moment on the job. Foster explained about the time they responded to fight a ranch home fire only to learn that the resident had buried about $2 million in cash in the ground under his house because of his Depression era mistrust of banks.

"He only lost a couple thousand dollars," said Foster. "But yeah we were in the mud, picking up mud and dirt ... and a big wad of money would come up here and a big wad of money would come up there but we got it all."

Born related a story about responding to a woman who overdosed on drugs and was covered in ants. She was revived and survived.

Clinite talked about fighting the large fire at a pallet yard on South Ninth Street.

"It was an adrenaline rush," said Clinite. "We were the first ones there. I was moving a million miles an hour."

Lawrence Cox gave students an idea of careers in the U.S. Army.

Traveling the farthest to be at the event was Darryl Toepfer, a database administrator at the Lawrence Livermore Lab; and Tim Gilbertson of Sandia Lab of Livermore.

Stanislaus County Sheriff's Deputy and canine officer Freddie Nevarez spoke about his career in law enforcement as did canine handler Deputy Joshua Lancaster and his K-9 Ace.

Katie Alcaraz and Ashley Searl told of their work at a Paul Mitchell salon.

The medical field was represented by anesthesiologist Tamim Wafa, EMT trainer Trisan Reddy and emergency room nurse Steve Joseph.

Gary Cook told students of his career as an information technology (IT) professional. Presenters also included attorney Kelley Moran, licensed contractor Brian Cowell, Modesto engineer Justin Capp, photographer Maureen Lemos, Christian author-speaker Kendra Fletcher and local Starbucks managers Kathy Volkerts, Dena Facio and Mallory Frazier. Also speaking were Tasha Hutton of the ROP program and Dustin Pack of Ceres Unified School District's Project YES.