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Professionals flock to Jordan Middle School’s Career Fair

Dreams of careers in government, medicine and movies met with experiences told by people employed in those fields as students from David Starr Jordan Middle School welcomed about 20 professionals to the school’s career fair on Thursday.

Former longtime Roosevelt Elementary School teacher Linda Walmsley, now a retired volunteer, was the event’s chief planner.

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“I would like the kids to understand you cannot have a career without an education,” Walmsley said. “I want them to understand that the ability to make good money is everywhere. If you get a good education and follow a good career path, you can do anything.”

Ron Takiguchi, building official for the city of Burbank, said he was delighted students were interested in various engineering fields, such as biomedical, civil, electrical and software.

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He gave an overview of the process to verify that buildings under construction are safe, citing one new business — Chick-fil-A on Olive and Alameda avenues — which brought oohs and aahs from students excited about the new restaurant.

Burbank Fire Capt. Ken Hultgren encouraged students to join his ranks.

“If you want to have a career as a firefighter, anyone can do it, but you have to work really, really hard,” he said. “Stay in school, work hard and always do the best you can in everything you do.”

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Seventh-grader Siena Scymore said she enjoyed the talk by animator Amy Lawson Smeed, who has worked on such feature films as “Tangled,” “Big Hero 6” and “Moana.”

“I like to draw and sometimes animate myself, so it’s fun to hear about those jobs,” Scymore said.

Unlike previous career fairs, with speakers in a single venue, Walmsley advised a rotation of presenters between three stages — two on adjacent blacktop areas outside and the other in the school’s gym.

The fair ran for a little over an hour, which gave each speaking group 20 minutes per session.

“That’s all Linda; she did everything,” said Sean McCallon, Jordan’s assistant principal. “I’ve been seeing the kids walk by, and I’ve been telling them, ‘It’s nice to be out of the classroom’ and a lot of them said, ‘Yes, it is.’”

Five speakers took turns from the medical profession, with Alexander Nury, information services site director at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, enjoying a chance to influence young minds.

“I love to see such intelligent questions, especially for their ages, and they’re very excited and passionate,” Nury said. “They just need a little direction.”

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Sixth-grader Katherine Veliz said she was inspired.

“First, I liked animation, but I like that the police officers said you can work with K-9s and even bikes,” she said. “I also like the fire department. I just like everything.”

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