Reina Echeverri, a freshman at Bayfield High School, aspires to be a Disney princess when she graduates high school. More specifically, she wants to work as Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” a Disney classic.
One panel she attended at the San Juan Board of Cooperative Educational Services’ PoWeR Career Fair on Thursday at Fort Lewis College was performing arts.
An estimated 1,600 area high school students attended Thursday’s fair where they interviewed working professionals from more than 40 fields. Each student attended three 45-minute sessions exploring career options.
Natalie Bertrand, post-secondary workforce readiness coordinator with the San Juan BOCES, organized the event. She said the most popular categories were fine arts, criminal justice, health sciences and business and marketing.
Master Sgt. Erik Cruz of Denver, representing the Colorado Army National Guard, said many high school students and young adults inquire about the military because of the benefits and scholarships. It’s also a fallback option students keep in mind in case their original choice doesn’t pan out.
The event catered to students from six regional high schools along with their chaperones and teachers. The schools in attendance were Animas, Bayfield, Big Picture, Durango, Ignacio and Pagosa Springs high schools.
Jordan Larsen, a math teacher at Ignacio High School, said many students in the Ignacio area tend to graduate directly into the workforce after high school. A handful of his students were interested in learning about welding, auto mechanics and other trade skills.
“It’s a good chance for the students to talk to people in those fields,” he said.
Kele Trujillo, a sophomore at DHS, wants to be either a lawyer or a coroner. She gets her inspiration from television shows such as “Criminal Minds” and “Law and Order.”
Representatives from BP, the Department of Energy and Aka Energy Group discussed energy-related jobs.
Alan Bedell, a business-development engineer for Aka, which designs and builds natural-gas gathering and processing facilities, said his job has allowed him to travel the world. It is an opportunity he never suspected would come his way growing up in Taos, N.M. He hoped his experience would inspire the students.
“Everyone needs energy; we are always going to need energy,” he said.