Guest speakers visit Wahkiakum High School


By Jessica Vik

As the school year closes, so do the Career Talks hosted by Wahkiakum High School (WHS). Partnering with Washington State University (WSU) Extension, 4-H Liaison Jessica Vik sought out guest speakers to bring in over the school year in Information Technology (IT) and Advanced Manufacturing Industries. Twice a month during their Mule sucess time, kids could choose to come listen to the guest speakers or work on their portfolios. The idea under the Career Connect Grant, similarly to the field trips we’ve taken, is to connect students with industry. The saying “it is not what you know but who you know” can be applied here. It is very important what you know but, in some cases, having the connections is sometimes just as important. We want to help give kids those connections so before they leave high school, they know who to call and what is expected.

Guest speakers this school year were Kerry Brown- DASH mechanic in the Navy and IBM Tech., Dave Bashum- Boeing Engineer, Infinite Red’s co-owner Jamon Holmgren did a zoom talk about mobile app design, Georgia Pacific Mill, Wauna-Brandon Clark (electrical engineer), Wahkiakum West-Kenneth Johnson (communications), Brett Deaton- River Pilot, Cisco-Brian Heston (cyber security), PeaceHealth Imaging-Angela Holsey and Gretchen VandenBerg, Mark Sutton- sound technician, Wahkiakum Sheriff’s Department-Emily Davenport, and Columbia Machine-Mark Stanley. Seattle Aquarium’s Research Team, Zachary Randell and Megan Williams, drove down from Seattle and gave a whole day to our school. Town of Cathlamet graciously let us use the pool for the day while the team did their career talk and demonstrated their remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in the pool. Any students who came 4th-12th grade could take a turn “flying” it through the water.

Some of the advice students heard was to stay focused and work hard. Another was don’t be afraid to dream big and community colleges are a good deal. Commencement doesn't just indicate a finish; it also means you are starting something else. So, stay sober, show up on time and ready to learn more. There really is no such thing as being "too early" but there is such a thing as being "too late." Be Nice." Sometimes this takes an effort, that's OK, it really is worth it. It is good to have options. Don’t turn down opportunities in your field. Advocate for yourself. The 5 C’s a company looks for in a person: competent, collaborative, character, committed, and caring.

Measurable outcomes are seeing when kids go up to speakers afterwards and get their contact info so they can reach out and find out more about that career and what it might take for them to get there. Principal Leitz stated, “It’s becoming a part of our school culture - students are asking when the next guest speaker is coming and even offering suggestions. WSU/4-H will continue bringing in guest speakers in the fall and already have a few connections, who they will reach out to for the next school year.


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