The Porterville Unified School District (PUSD) Pathways Department held their annual “Mentor Conference” for over 700 10th grade Pathway students on Wednesday, April 21st. The Mentor Conference is an opportunity for Pathway students to meet business and industry leaders across the nation to learn about personal growth, workplace effectiveness, and preparing for their future.
“The Mentor Conference is a great opportunity for Pathway students to hear firsthand from business partners and Pathway alumni of all backgrounds, to learn from their challenges, and get advice on overcoming obstacles,” says Cynthia Brown, Director of Student Pathways.
The Mentor Conference started off with keynote speaker Kevin Atlas, who is a former NCAA D3 basketball player and now an author and motivational speaker. Atlas was born with his left arm ending just below his elbow. Atlas spoke to Pathway students about facing adversity in life, overcoming challenges, and how to keep pushing forward in life. Atlas encouraged students to embrace their own personal challenges to make them stronger.
After Atlas’ presentation, Pathway students heard from a variety of speakers during breakout sessions. There were presentations from former NFL Football player Tyrone Smith from First & Goal, Renee Solari from SunPower INC., Elyse (Marchant) Willis, accomplished performing artist, and Madison Meredith from Gallo Wines. 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 Mentor Conference ended with a Pathway Alumni panel discussion. The alumni panel discussed how their Pathway and high school experience prepared them for college and future career. Ray Lopez, a petroleum engineer, told the students: “Always ask questions and seek to get out of a level of comfort. Continue to learn new skills!” Matt Day, a current Cal Poly undergraduate, encouraged the students: “Make connections everywhere you go. All pathways will teach you invaluable lessons so grab on to those.” The Pathway Alumni panel was hosted by Hannah Chand, a current Fresno State undergraduate. Chand encouraged the students to take advantage of internship opportunities, as they were eye opening for her during high school.
This was the second time the Mentor Conference was held virtually due to limitations on indoor gatherings.
The PUSD Pathways program offers high school students an opportunity to prepare for both college and career through integrated curriculum, work-based learning opportunities, and so much more. Visit pathways.portervilleschools.org for more information.