Some dressed in their finest business attire, some wandered in too cool to talk to adults about career goals and others were on a mission. Students — mostly seniors from both Plumas and Sierra county high schools — made their way to the Feather River College multipurpose building for the annual FRC College, Career and Transfer Day on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Nearly 300 students attended the event with over 56 career and college exhibitors. This year’s college exhibitors included more from the University of California and California State University system schools than in previous years as well as private, trade, art and community college schools and programs.
Plumas County nonprofits, military recruiters, the Forest Service and other agencies were on hand, as well as a few businesses in the area, to have conversations with shy students of what their possibilities might be for their futures.
Exhibitors smiled and recollected what it was like when they were that age and went to career events.
“You don’t have a clue as to what you want to do,” one exhibitor said.
Teachers and FRC organizers gave students cards that had to be signed off once they talked to exhibitors and asked them questions about their professions.
“Do you make a lot of money?” was one typical question and “How did you know you wanted to do that?” was another.
As is customary, FRC provided a speaker for the event and this year’s motivational speaker was Laguna Beach native and Olympic gold medal winner in beach volleyball, Dain Blanton. Blanton was also the first African American AVP beach volleyball champion. His own career path has him coaching volleyball, public speaking, and sports broadcasting. He offered the students advice and wisdom concerning the hard work it takes to achieve one’s dream — for him it was getting to the 2000 Olympic beach volleyball team.
Blanton has spoken at FRC’s College Career and Transfer Day once before a few years ago, but to the assembled students, it was the first time they’d heard his words of wisdom.
“The time to be a leader is now; either you take control of your life or someone else will,” said Blanton.
He told the assembled students about his own journey to life after high school — highlighting his choices to study hard, get tutoring and attend Pepperdine University. He empathized with the student journey and confessed he was not at all sure of his path at the beginning, but was galvanized by setbacks he saw his older brother go through.
His older brother had gotten into college conditionally and needed to raise a couple of grades to go, but he didn’t do it and didn’t fulfill his “Plan A” — it taught Blanton to work harder to achieve his own goals. He also changed his mind on his initial major to something more suited toward his goals.
Students were most enthralled when he shared his path to becoming an Olympic champion and how he surrounding himself with supportive and engaged individuals, helping get him and his teammates the gold in 2000 in Sydney, Australia.
He spoke of the mindset needed to achieve one’s goals. The room was full of those nodding in agreement as he frequently fell back to sports metaphors to convey his ideas on how bewildered senior high school students might find direction and purpose.
After his talk, Blanton invited students to take a look at an Olympic gold medal up close and posed for photos with students. Students responded enthusiastically to his offer and lined up to talk to him one on one and thank him for speaking to them.
FRC provided students with a boxed lunch and opportunity to explore the campus.