Stanislaus County has many career opportunities, but sometimes it requires knowing where to look to locate the best job. The Stanislaus County Office of Education aims to enrich the region and the lives of local students by uniting them with career opportunities through the Stanislaus Leadership Academy.
The Academy is designed to develop the leadership potential in high school juniors and seniors in the county by providing monthly hands-on learning experiences. Students travel to local businesses to gain awareness of local career availability and expand their knowledge of academics and work ethics.
“This program is the first of its kind in Stanislaus County to bring youth, public and private organizations together to discuss and explore leadership in unique and innovative ways,” said Vicki Bauman, SCOE’s director of prevention programs. “One of the goals of the program is to raise awareness of careers available locally to students after they graduate from college or trade schools.”
Ricardo Ramirez, a junior at Pitman High School, was one of over 30 students who participated in this year's Leadership Academy after being encouraged to apply for the program by his mathematics teacher Renate Staley. Once accepted, the Academy proved to be an eye opening and inspiring experience as Ramirez gained insight into the inner-workings of local businesses such as Gallo Winery, Doctors Medical Center in Modesto as well as local police and fire departments.
“It was really interesting to meet other students who are preparing for college and getting their life going after high school,” said Ramirez.
Since his exposure through the Academy, Ramirez is now considering entering the police academy rather than pursuing a career in the medical field. However, he still intends to enroll in classes at California State University, Stanislaus or the University of California, Merced after high school in order to have an academic background regardless of the professional route he chooses.
“I will probably study something related to medicine or math. I like math because unlike English, when you’re choosing the best answer, there is only one right answer. It’s precise,” said Ramirez.
When Ramirez isn’t busy charting a course for his future, he enjoys playing on the varsity soccer team at Pitman where his team took first place in the Central California Conference and advanced to the Division I semifinals this year. With one more year of high school left, Ramirez plans to enjoy his final year at Pitman playing soccer and preparing to take his first step into the post-high school world well equipped with the skills he learned from the Leadership Academy.
“If I could, I would do it again in a second,” said Ramirez.