More than 1,000 students from San Diego County, including nearly 400 from JCCS, had the opportunity to learn about employment options and career readiness, and meet potential employers at the Passport to Life Career and Education Expo.
The annual event was created to support youth ages 14-24 who are on probation, have been on probation, or are at risk of being on probation.
“I look forward to the event each year because it gives me the opportunity to learn new things,” said one Monarch School senior. “I enjoyed learning about different colleges and getting the chance to visit the information tables. I was most interested in learning about Miramar College and their health profession career pathway.”
This year, there were more than 70 exhibitors representing colleges, certificate opportunities, apprenticeship programs, and community-based organizations providing resources. Eighteen workshops addressed a variety of topics from careers in technology and the arts, to money management and real-world preparation, to life after high school.
“The event is important for students because it helps them discover college and community resources that can support student/family needs and post-secondary options for students,” said Stephanie Johnston, student support and family involvement supervisor for JCCS, who has been involved in the event since its inception 10 years ago.
The event also featured a keynote speaker, Antonio Fernandez, who shared his story about overcoming adversity.
Fernandez, known as King Tone on the streets, was the former leader of the New York chapter of the Latin Kings gang. Fernandez shared details about his family, his time in prison, and his self-transformation.
“All jail ever gave me was more anger, more hate, and more destruction,” he told the attendees. “You can laugh now [at the message]…or you can cry later,” he said referring to his own admission that he used to often cry in prison when nobody was looking.
One mother in attendance with her son said she was hopeful that her son heard the powerful message.
Organizers say the goal of the event is to provide students with ideas, tools, motivation, encouragement, and hope for their future, reinforcing the idea that all youth have the ability to succeed if they have the right training, support, and opportunities.
Passport to Life is a collaborative effort among multiple public agencies in San Diego, which include: Superior Court of California; San Diego County Probation Department; the San Diego County Office of Education Juvenile Court and Community Schools; San Diego City College; County of San Diego District Attorney’s Office, and the County of San Diego Public Defender’s Office.