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Students at Virginia Parks Elementary get look at career options
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Couper Condit, a member of the Ceres Planning Commission and district director for state Assemblyman Heath Flora, told students how laws are made last week at Virginia Parks Elementary School’s School-to-Career Day.

A nurse, legislative aide, contractor, animal control officer, businessman and police and firefighters gave students at Virginia Parks Elementary School a glimpse into their careers during a School-to-Career Day last week.

Students took turns rotating through three stations for 20 minutes apiece to hear from professionals, learn more about what they do, and how to get in that career.

Couper Condit, a district director for state Assemblyman Heath Flora, told students how laws are made, giving the example of a student introducing a bill on giving free chocolate chip cookies every morning. He said the bill would then go to the floor of the Assembly for a vote before it goes to a Lunch Committee and a vote on the Senate floor. Upon passage it has to be signed by the governor. Then there are the matters of the courts weighing in on bills challenged.

“Now you kind of get an understanding of what it would be like to work in Sacramento,” said Condit. “You would have to work with that many people to try to get a bill, try to get an idea signed into law.”

Condit, who is also a member of the Ceres Planning Commission, explained that the governor can offer ideas to be voted on. He noted that the people can pass laws through the initiative process.

He informed the students that 80 serve in the state Assembly and 40 in the state Senate and that nearly 3,000 bills have been introduced this year alone.

A question-and-answer session had Condit asked if he plays video games.  He replied that he hadn’t played in a long time but used to play Madden NFL.

“I have a cousin who plays Fortnite,” said Condit.

His older brother, Channce Condit, who is a member of the Ceres City Council, walked in the door and began shaking students’ hands.  “That’s the politician – shaking hands.”

Channce Condit spent time talking about his work at Opportunity Stanislaus and what it’s like serving on the City Council.

Ceres Police Sgt. Jason Coley spent time talking about being a motorcycle officer and enforcing various laws like a lot of drivers violate, such as texting while driving and holding a cell phone to talk. Officers LorenzoBeltran and Dirk Nieuwenhuis also spoke about being policemen and a SWAT team member.

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Memorial Medical Center nurse and Ceres resident Mark White talks about his career at Virginia Parks Elementary School.

Mark White, a cardiologist nurse with Sutter Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, spoke about his role in keeping people healthy.

He said he wanted to be a firefighter in high school but opted for a medical career.

“I did it because I really like helping people. It’s very rewarding for me. I started out as an Emergency Medical Technician, riding in an ambulance, and then I got into the hospital (as an emergency room technician) and decided I wanted to do more.” He said he got tired of cleaning up – things nurses don’t want to do – so he wanted to become a nurse. Part of the motivation was seeing his father get cancer and treatments at UCSF Medical Center.

“It’s two years of education. You have to go to college. You can’t just go – you see online it’ll say be a nurse and take this online class. It doesn’t work; those aren’t good classes. You won’t get the education you need.”

He explained that nursing degrees vary from the Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ABD), Bachelor’s Science in Nursing (BSN). “You want to go there,” said White. Those who earn a master’s degree can then become a nurse practitioner “which means you can be basically like a doctor but still be a nurse.” White explained that anesthesia nurses can make a lot of money – sometimes more than doctors.

White also stated nurses can easily find jobs anywhere in the country.

Firefighter Jason Cripe shared on the proper use of 9-1-1 dispatching. He also gave tips on safety in the home, such as getting out of the house when the smoke detector goes off and letting adults check it out. Cripe also told students they should never play with matches or lighters.

Other presenters included Harinder Toor, a contractor from Ceres; Turlock Animal Control Officer G. Jackson; Michael Duran of a Ceres martial arts studio, Miguel Lua-Reyes of Stanislaus State University, Jaspreet Basra, a community organizer at Jakara Movement; and Peunh Boualouang of Ceres, an AT&T Senior Business Manager.

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Sgt. Jason Coley explains how officers enforced traffic laws, sometimes with an electric motorcycle.
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Firefighter Jason Cripe asks students not to play with matches.