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This post is brought to you courtesy of Selvin Ayala, Class of 2020 Mount Diablo High School. His intended major is English Education, and he’s looking forward to completing his course of study at SF State, where he just started this fall. You can read more of his writing here: https://upgraede.wordpress.com

Majors Exposed was a virtual event presented for Diamante scholars over the summer. It was designed to show us what academic options we have. The event had speakers from five different majors. Each speaker talked about their job and their journey. I had recently finished high school and hearing about what each presenter did after high school was exactly what I needed to hear.

They gave us information about their major, why they chose it, and what they did with it. Their stories were packed with life lessons that displayed to me the traits that I need to have in order to succeed in college, and after college. This was the first time I heard a talk about what to expect from college, life, and careers. Many of the speakers changed their majors a few times, and their careers! They are amazing people who have achieved and experienced a lot. The speakers who donated their time to us were Jessica Delfanti, Clint Chao, Sandy Fleming, Dave Cotter, and Mary Godwin. This is a small sample of the stories they shared with us at the event.

Sandy Fleming, who majored in Science and Health, became a physician. As a student, she wanted to be a doctor, but she was told that she couldn’t. It was suggested that she become a nurse instead. She didn’t let anyone else decide for her what she could or could not do, and completed her desired course of study

Jessica Delfanti is a Lead Narrative Designer for video games, but she wasn’t always at the top of her team. Jessica had to get experience before she could write for the games she liked most. She started off writing about video games that she didn’t have much interest in. She wrote for games in the app store, when in actuality she wanted to write about games like Grand Theft Auto, a very popular, complicated game, and other popular games.

Not all of the speakers were certain about what they wanted to do after high school. For example, Mary Goodwin was unsure but relied on her passion for math. She got a degree in engineering. After college, she got a job as the Supply Base Manager for Apple. She worked her way up into leadership roles,  and now Ms. Godwin is Vice President of Operations Nautilus Biotechnology. She gave us great advice. Ms. Godwin said that regarding a new job or an opportunity it’s often easier to stay with the comfortable option. When we often get scared of the outcome we should ask  “What’s the worst that could happen?” When we realize the worst that could happen is not that bad taking the risk might be worth considering. This is especially true if we don’t want to be left with any regrets.

Clint Chao transforms the future of work by funding startup companies that use technology to improve their operations in their industry. He is a venture capitalist and it struck my curiosity, I wanted to learn more so I actually emailed him to find out. He sent me various resources, that included internships that I could take advantage of. This adds to the great advice he gave us, that It’s important to get experience, all students can have good grades but where we can stand out is in our experience.

Dave Cotter is inspirational. He’s accomplished a lot as Co-Founder of SquareSpace, and previous CEO of MessageYes. From his story, I could tell that It’s important to work towards our goals but we must also make sure we are happy in our relationships with ourselves and others. He has a great talk about his experience. Here is a link to his talk:  https://www.geekwire.com/2013/startup-day-video-terrifying-stroke-luck-changed-dave-cotters-life/

One thing all of the presenters had in common was grit. Not all of them knew exactly what they wanted to do after high school, but they all had to persevere and make difficult decisions. They tried, risked and failed to get to where they are. They kept failing before they got anywhere.  The takeaway for me is that it’s important to fail. Failure is not something I should beat myself up for, but instead, it’s the sign that I’m doing something right. I’m not sure where I will end up, with which career, job, or title. I do know that I will do my best every step of the way, using my mistakes as stepping stones to get there, and I’m thankful for getting to learn from our generous speakers.