SAN GABRIEL, CA – Jefferson Middle School students were greeted with the tantalizing smell of pancakes and a promise by chef Izzy Camacho: If they helped him establish a menu for a new restaurant, they would be rewarded with the fluffy pancakes. His goal was to show students that the challenges of a culinary career can also be fun.

“You must do something you can find joy in – it is hard to find success without happiness.,” Camacho told the students. “If you find something you enjoy and you work hard at it, you will be satisfied with where you end up in 20 years.”

Camacho, the head chef at The Grill on the Alley in Beverly Hills, was among 40 San Gabriel Unified parents and community members who shared their stories at Jefferson Middle School’s annual Career Day on March 31.

“I liked listening to Chef Camacho because I always thought I wanted to be a chef, and after hearing about what he does, I know that’s something I could do and would be interested in,” eighth-grader Dominic Gonzalez-Shelmire said. “Career Day is important because it makes us think about what we may want to do when we grow up and how to accomplish that goal.” ”

Doctors, filmmakers and industry professionals from organizations such as Netflix and the FBI shared stories about their careers with students during four 40-minute workshops.

“Career Day is an important opportunity for Jefferson students to be exposed to a variety of career paths,” Jefferson Middle School Principal Matt Arnold said. “It helps students understand the importance of the work they’re doing now and motivates them to work hard to achieve their goals.”

Television director and SGUSD parent Brandi Bradburn, who recently worked on NBC’s “This is Us,” walked students through the process of directing a scene. She also shared three tips for success with her middle-school audience: do not discount the value of education, be curious and be creative.

Exoplanet scientist and community member Solange Ramirez encouraged students to consider their electives wisely in high school, explaining that skills such as critical thinking, computer programming and creative writing can provide excellent foundation for a variety of careers.

“We encourage our students to think about their futures at an early age so that they are able to choose the right pathway for themselves,” SGUSD Superintendent Dr. John Pappalardo said. “Our District values the strong partnership we have with our parents and community to bring this opportunity to our students.”


041717_SANGAB_CAREER1: Izzy Camacho, head chef at The Grill on the Alley in Beverly Hills, quizzes Jefferson middle school students on culinary matters during the school’s annual Career Day on March 31.

041717_SANGAB_CAREER2: Jefferson middle schoolers tested the weight of firefighting gear during Career Day on March 31 with the help of San Gabriel firefighter and paramedic Antonio Negrete. The annual event recruits parents and community members to share their stories and encourage students to consider a variety of professional paths.