“What do you want to do when you grow up?” Many little kids responded princess, astronaut, or superhero. Of course, these are not realistic professions. It can take forever to discover what you want to dedicate the rest of your life to, and on average the typical college student will change their major 3 times before even graduating. Because of this, it can be life changing to be given advice about how to discover your passion, and to recognize when one should learn from the mistakes of others. In order to do this, the Health Department at Youth Radio brought in 6 individuals from around the Bay Area to provide first hand experience. All of them now have jobs that have to do with health and maintaining fitness. However, every one of them started out in very different places. Sammy, a research consultant with Sutter Public Health, began college believing she wanted to be a full time painter. However, she changed paths when attending UC Berkeley, as she took different classes and explored her passions. “Its so cool,” Sammy said excitedly, describing how her “job is like being a detective, but for public health.” Despite the fact that all the panelists seemed to enjoy their jobs, they have to deal with some heavy burdens. When asked her biggest challenge, Jenny, the program director for Native Americans and a health advisor at Skyline High School in Oakland, admitted that it was “heartbreaking to explain STDs to the youth when [she] worked at Planned Parenthood.” Looking sorrowful, she described how she would have to tell girls who were sometimes only twelve years old that they were pregnant or had a serious disease. However, despite the difficulties the panelists addressed in their jobs, there are upsides. Stacy Sanko said that when working at her job at the Alameda County Health Pipeline Partnership it is amazing to “directly help the youth… by providing them with scholarships,” and that she believes it is extremely “important to provide a non-judgmental environment for adults.” Along the way, all of them have learned valuable lessons, and came to the panel with tons of advice. Julie Gardner, the Health Coordinator at the Alameda School Based Center, as well as Sammy, both agree that it is important to “realize what’s best for you” and to not be afraid “to change your course.” Perry Compton, an EMT for Paramedics Plus, emphasizes that one should “start [exploring options] now, and start early,” because “the earlier you can start the earlier you can get to where you want to go.” And in today’s world, Julie stresses that you always have to “network, network, network,” because “getting yourself out there can be the most important part in finding a job.” As the panel wrapped up, it was clear that everyone on it had gotten to where they were from learning through personal experiences and by learning about what they love. As Perry and Julie told everybody, “Do something different… and don’t be afraid to fail.”
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