Youth Leadership Conference prepares students for careers

Rebecca Keeler
Staff Writer 

More than 150 Los Angeles area students, exploring science, technology, engineering, the arts and math careers (STEAM) in a changing world, gathered Saturday at the University of La Verne Campus Center for the 13th Annual Youth Leadership Conference hosted by Omega Psi Phi. 

The six-hour event, which was focused on high school and college students, consisted of workshops covering college preparation, financial awareness, STEAM careers and life skills for students and parents. A job fair, internship opportunities, summer job opportunities, door prizes and drone raffles highlighted the event. 

The annual conference was organized by Omega Psi Phi, a historic 111-year-old African American fraternity. OPP dedicates time to mentoring boys and young men of different races and ethnicities throughout the world. The attending youth all wore purple t-shirts given by Omega Psi Phi. 

“The purpose of this conference is to teach basic important concepts that these young men do not get in public schools,” Daryl Charles, representative and member of Omega Psi Phi, said.

“Some of the lessons taught throughout this conference are how to stay out of trouble, what to do when you get stopped by the police, how to shake someone’s hand, how to start life on the right path and important goals to have,” Charles said. 

The conference was supported by the nonprofit organization Upward Bound L.A., whose purpose is to empower, uplift and champion students in the Los Angeles area. The organization seeks to fill an essential role as a valuable community partner to help make college a reality for as many youths as possible. The programs of Upward Bound L.A. are intentionally designed to prepare students for college, with a special focus on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. The concept of STEAM is designed to integrate STEM subjects with arts subjects into relevant education disciplines. 

Careers in STEAM include but are not limited to mechanical and civil engineer, architecture, biomedical engineer, product designer, animator, forensic psychologist, sound engineer, video game designer, astrophysicist, graphic designer, fashion designer, photographer, sports announcer, pilots, astronaut and archeologist.

Speakers from the U.S. Coast Guard and California Highway Patrol, among others, were in attendance at the job fair portion of the conference and provided insightful information on a number of job opportunities. 

“CHP is a great career with lots of opportunities for growth and personal development,” August Elliott, California Highway Patrol officer, said.

The state-wide department has many job opportunities ranging from administrative roles to officers. 

“The minimum requirement for pursuing a career with CHP is that you have a high school diploma. You do not have to attend college, but for those who do, you should pursue a major in criminal justice,” Elliott said. 

The conference sparked an interest for many in potential careers and areas of study, as they gained insightful tips on resume writing techniques and how to apply for a job.

“Today’s event taught me the distinctions between several different STEM careers and that getting a job is all about networking and communicating,” William Kuo, sophomore at Crespi Carmelite High School, said. 

As the conference progressed, the look of enthusiasm and optimism on the faces of those in attendance could be seen all around the room.

“I have gained a greater wealth of knowledge about topics such as time management, communicating out of my comfort zone, goal setting and ways to better myself for the future. I am happy I came to this event,” Ruben Avila, sophomore at the University of Redlands, said. 

Rebecca Keeler can be reached at rebecca.keeler@laverne.edu

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