Inspiring speakers. Amazing kids.
Those were the words heard over and over again at the 14th annual PWA Expo Breakfast, a get-up-early-and-get-charged-up event that drew a crowd of about 500 attendees to the Oregon Convention Center on Tuesday, March 13.
The breakfast kicks off the NW Youth Careers Expo, the Northwest’s largest career-exploration event for Oregon and SW Washington high school students, presented by the nonprofit Portland Workforce Alliance.
In the Oregon Ballroom, business and community leaders mingled with educators and Portland high school students. They also heard upbeat messages from a trio of keynote speakers who encouraged the teens to follow their curiosity and discover their passion.
Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw recalled, as a 14-year-old in Oakland, California, participating in a career exploration program that sparked an interest in law enforcement and set her on a path to a career in police work. During ride-alongs with cops in her hometown, “I saw them as human beings,” she said. “They laughed, they joked, they ate at the same places I had.”
“It was my first year attending the breakfast, and wow – what a stellar line up. I’m still thinking of the stories that were shared. A very inspirational morning.” – Breakfast attendee
Dr. David Bangsberg, founding dean of the joint School of Public Health at Oregon Health & Science University and Portland State University, credited a couple caring teachers in Portland Public Schools for giving him the confidence as a young person to pursue a career in medicine. He aspired to become a neurosurgeon but abandoned those plans after working with HIV patients in medical school, and focused instead on serving the poor and afflicted through a focus on public health.
PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero, who began as an English language learner and young musician before embracing a career in public education, urged students to be open to all possibilities. “You never know where the door is going to lead,” he said.
Addressing employers and other adult volunteers in the room, he thanked them for their commitment to career-technical education and for offering professional guidance to students.
“For many of our youth, they may not have it at home. They may not even have it at school. At times, it’s moments like these” that make a difference, Guerrero said.