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Career Day Inspires Students' Dreams for Tomorrow

January's Career Day kicked off with a keynote speech from alumna Manuelita “PJ” Barnett ‘02. Manuelita, a funeral home director, emphasized three qualities for students to develop: composure, resilience, and focus. These qualities have enabled her to help and counsel her clients, overcome personal hardships, and persevere to complete a college degree. Following the keynote, more than 40 professionals in fields ranging from fine arts to engineering shared their career advice and experience with the students.

Most panelists admitted that they weren't sure of career plans when they were in high school or in their early college years. Veteran professionals said that their careers have had many phases, bouncing from private corporations to the public sector or from one job to another within the same organization.

Common themes in their advice included: embrace change, keep learning new skills via professional development or education, practice empathy, be a problem-solver, and pay attention to your work/life balance.

When in college, they suggested that students join clubs and campus organizations where they can meet peers with similar career goals. Chevron petroleum engineer Birlie Bourgeois recommended that students find internships to learn more about career fields and meet networks of professionals. Several panelists, including Sue Theiss, TXDOT project director, urged students to strengthen presentation and writing skills, which will help them stand out among today's young professionals.

Special thanks to Parent Liaison Michelle Parham who put together such fantastic panelists and to the IWA Counselors, Amie Gray and Talia Pennington-Dorsey, Ph.D., who coordinated campus logistics. Thanks also to the IWA alumnae, current parents, and generous professionals who inspired students' dreams for tomorrow.