May 11, 2007

ROP Fair Reminds Students That All Careers Are Possible

‘Open House’ broadens outlook on variety of occupations and industries

Parent Alda Infante stepped into a full-sized, brightly colored immersion suit to help illustrate a classroom speaker’s presentation about life aboard merchant ships. The suit, she and the others were told, will keep someone alive and afloat in an emergency in up to 30-foot seas.

Infante, a petite woman, may have looked lost in the oversized immersion suit. But the visual helped students understand the rigors of working at sea. Speaker Rick Nichols, of Mar Vista High’s ROP Maritime Technologies Academy, gave the presentation to students and adults to drum up interest in the high-wage possibilities of even entry-level work in maritime jobs.

It was all part of the Eighth Annual Non-Traditional Careers Open House, hosted recently by Sweetwater’s Regional Occupational Program (ROP). The open house involves business, school and community leaders speaking about opportunities available to students in occupations and industries that are often overlooked. More than 300 students and adults participated.

“The event helps promote more awareness of ROP and its services in a way that gives everyone a sense of the big picture,” said Gerardo Chavez, the Sweetwater District’s ROP director.

Sweetwater’s Regional Occupational Program is the third largest among 22 districts in San Diego County, including community college districts.

ROP is an important aspect of the district’s approach to meeting the diverse needs of a student body. What started out as a vocational training program with a focus on industrial arts preparation has grown to more closely meet the needs of both students and industry. ROP students today not only receive practical training for immediate job success, they also have the opportunity to enhance their readiness for continued education.

With quality instruction in medical training, business and technology, building maintenance and industrial arts and articulation agreements with local community colleges, ROP’s course offerings prepare students for their next step, be it postsecondary education or career.

For the students who attended Nichols’ presentation, there was also the prospect to consider of earning $50,000 annually to start.

“There aren’t too many jobs where you can start out making $50,000,” Nichols said.

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