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Career Day informs students

Terry Hagerty (Contributing Writer/Photographer)

The Bastrop Youth Career Day held May 18 provided local high school students with valuable tips from professionals on pursuing careers, along with some extra encouragement to “go after your goals.” Representatives from nearly 50 businesses, governmental agencies and nonprofits set up impressive displays and information booths for Bastrop High School and Cedar Creek High School students at the half-day event at the Wilhelm Center for the Performing Arts. Students had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a variety of employers. (Terry Hagerty Photography)
The event was a collaborative effort involving BISD, the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Solutions and the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation. Students heard an inspirational talk from keynote speaker Michael Hosford, a BHS graduate, and gained concise information from a panel of area business and governmental leaders. Also included was a video titled, “Sell Yourself! – Job Interview Wisdom from Bastrop’s Employers.”
Michael Hosford stayed after giving the keynote speech to interact with students. (Terry Hagerty Photography)Hosford, who owns Synergy Insurance and Investment Advisory Services in Bastrop, advises several professional athletes, including NFL and NBA players, as well as Bastropians. In a stirring presentation Hosford told the students he had a rough start in life. Born in a charity hospital in St. Louis, Hosford said was abandoned by his father, and later on in life, his mother. “I knew the cards I was holding were bad,” Hosford said of his situation as a youth. He moved to Bastrop in the 5th grade, adding he got a “PhD degree in high school – poor, hungry and determined.” Hosford eventually put himself through college by working for four years at Wal-Mart, and then launched Synergy during his senior year at Texas State University.  Hosford encouraged students to stand up to life’s challenges. He showed a film clip of boxer Buster Douglas knocking out undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson in a 1990 fight in Tokyo – which many sports writers consider one of the biggest upsets in sports history. “Like Buster Douglas, I had to start fighting back,” Hosford said.

Panelists answered students' questions. (Terry Hagerty Photography)

The business panel members included Bret Farris (Chick-fil-A), Eric Cortez (Austin Police Department), Tom Wilkins (Wilkins Group), Jill McNabb (Greater TEXAS Federal Credit Union), Kendrick Gilbert (Walmart) and Hosford. During the panel and in the video, professionals advised students that initial impressions during interviews are crucial to success. Recurring themes included “dress appropriately,”  “ask questions” and definitely silence cell phones. Another tip was, “Don’t trash former employers,” because it shows a lack of professionalism. Stephanie Garcia, a CCHS senior who said she wants to become a nurse practitioner, said Hosford and the speakers on the business panel had inspired her “to go for what you want, and to never give up on what you want to do” for a career. Her friend and fellow CCHS senior Ijenae Deshay, added of the presentations, “It was real inspiring, it helped me with thoughts about what I want to do when I get older.” 

Students visit with the crew of PHI Air Medical. (Terry Hagerty Photography)After the auditorium presentations, students excitedly perused employer booths set up in the spacious lobby of the PAC, and impressive displays outside in the parking lot – including a PHI Air Medical helicopter, a Texas Army National Guard vehicle, Austin Police Department Bomb Squad, Texas Parks & Wildlife and displays from several City of Bastrop departments including: the Bastrop Police Department, Bastrop Power & Light, and Information Technology. Assistant Fire Chief Rick Snell, with ESD#2, was telling students about the training required for gaining EMT Basic certification (emergency medical technician), for being employed with ambulance services, at hospitals and fire departments. “I’m talking for most of the time with students, but also showing them ‘these are the tools of the trade,’” Snell said.

BISD Superintendent Steve Murray and high school principal Dr. Jason Hewitt talked to students. (Terry Hagerty Photography)

Viewing the PAC lobby packed with enthusiastic students, BISD Superintendent Steve Murray said it was the second year of Bastrop Youth Career Day and that the “(PAC) venue is working out really well.” He also complimented Hosford’s talk, saying, “Michael did a wonderful job and really related to the kids.” Murray said he was extending “a thank you to all the folks willing to come here today” including businesses and organizations both in the Bastrop area and beyond, and he praised the collaborative effort of the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Solutions, the BEDC and BISD.

BHS senior Jake Namken seemed to capture the excitement of the day, saying the displays and information booths, as well as Hosford’s talk, were all “awesome.”