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[PAST EVENT] One Opportunity? Maybe Not

Caption: Endyia Kinney-Sterns talks about how “taking action” lead her to become who she is today.

On October 20th, 2017, ECHS hosted their 11th Annual Career Day, “Take Action,” presented by ReGreen. The day featured over 80 professionals from a range of industries, including environment and sustainability, sports, fashion, health and the nonprofit sector, and offered a full, interactive day of speaker sessions, workshops, and networking.

Students filled the outdoor amphitheater to hear Keynote Speaker Endyia Kinney-Sterns, former Vice President of Development and Programming of the OWN Network. As one of Essence Magazine‘s “Top Female Executives in Hollywood”, Endyia inspired students to “take action” with her own story, and to prepare themselves for the opportunities and adversities they may face in their lifetimes.

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Caption: ECHS alumni, Jose Garcia (Class of 2013) introduces Executive Director, Alison Diaz.

Students heard from Jose Garcia, ECHS alumni (Class of 2013). Jose spoke about how ECHS impacted him and gave him the opportunity to reach for dreams he didn’t know he could have and has altered the way he sees the world around him. Jose said, “In our society, people are taught to do well in school to finish so they can get a good job. But at ECHS, I learned about my own power as a student and how I could make changes in my own community and not just do what everyone else is doing.” This set him apart from his peers in college.

The annual Career Day is implemented as part of Environmental Charter Schools’ commitment to providing students with opportunities to expose them to real-world experiences, supplementing what they learn in the classroom.

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Caption: Students raise their hand to show they would be the first in their families to attend college.

In addition to hearing about speaker experiences, the 12th-grade seniors joined speakers in break-out sessions to share about their senior thesis projects. At ECHS, all 12th-grade students participate in Senior Thesis Projects. Students select a topic addressing a social injustice at the end of their 11th-grade year and spend that summer and their entire senior year developing and researching their ideas. They take their research a step further by connecting with local companies and organizations to implement a civic action. During the Take Action break-out, students talked to speakers about ideas and resources related to their civic action projects.

Students also participated in workshops and panels featuring topics ranging from Know Your Rights from Southwestern Law School, The Art of Networking, presented by ECS partner, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) to a STEM Beyond the Books panel and a Success Beyond ECS panel featuring ECHS Alumni.

“People say ‘opportunity comes once in a lifetime,’ but that isn’t necessarily true. The key to leveraging the opportunity is to be prepared. While opportunity might come more than once, what we know for certain is that adversity will always come.” – Endyia Kinney-Sterns

Speakers provided insight into their daily lives and shared with students what a day-in-the-life looks like in their industry. Marsha Rivera, FOX Studios, encouraged students to “acknowledge all of [their] dreams,” and to not limit their dreams to one aspiration. Shaunna Hatcher, Zislis Group, shared the successes and challenges of collaborating with others in her work and reminded students on the importance of remembering that “all people feel the same stuff – pain, sorrow, joy, frustration.”

Following the event, Career Day speakers and ECS guests connected with each other during the Speaker’s Lunch, sponsored by Veggie Grill and Rosalia Vasquez. During lunch, ECHS alumni, Jose Garcia and Nicolle Salazar, shared their personal stories and re-traced the impact that their ECHS experience had on their growth and success.

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Caption: Nicolle Salazar shares during the Speaker’s Lunch how ECHS has shaped her and pushes her to discover her own sense of purpose.

In addition to ReGreen, 2017 Career Day sponsors included AAA Flag & Banner, US Bank, Mike Gaines Photography, Comerica, Dogeared, Veggie Grill and Rosalia Vasquez. Event content partners were Manhattan Beach Rotary, Chevron, Mattel, B Local LA, and EmpowHer Institute.

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For more information about Career Day or how you can become a speaker, sponsor or support ECS, please contact info@ecsonline.org.