Career Forum Explores Varied Educational and Professional Paths

By Beth Brennan

Mount Madonna School (MMS) parents hosted another successful Career Forum on Friday March 6 at the upper campus for the high schoolers. The event was lauded by the students, teachers, parent volunteers and the career participants. The participants this year were a very diverse group of people from a number of job sectors and with some great stories about their educational and professional paths.

The participants included several MMS parents: Nate Vince, president of the industrial segment of a large international company; battalion fire chief Mike Harris; Michael Don Carlos, a commercial airline captain; Marty Vaden, a finish carpenter and woodworker; and emergency room nurse Susy Adams. Additional participants were Courtney Kaplan, an aunt of current MMS students and an executive leadership coach; Alumna Blythe Collier (’12), a research assistant at the American Research Institute in Washington D.C.; Casey Coonerty Protti, owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz; and Cathy Conway, Mount Madonna Center community member and chief mission officer for Hospice of Santa Cruz County.

Several students commented that the variety of careers and information shared during the question and answer periods was really interesting. This year the addition of a live video conferencing segment with alumna Blythe Collier was well received and there was consensus that more engagement with younger, more recent alumni should be include in future events, as well. Collier’s comments about how the Values in World Thought trips, song share, performances and education at MMS gave her valuable tools to interact and excel after college were encouraging, according to the students.

The Career Forum first began some 10 years ago and is put together by an all-parent volunteer crew. The forum’s purpose is to show high school students a sampling of the variety of different possible professions, as well as the diverse paths that people take to get to those careers, including the many surprises and adjustments that take place for most adults amidst professional pursuits.

The 2020 volunteer committee included myself, Christine Smith, Ariel Benson, Forrest Cambell, Susy Adams and Peggy Moore. Thank you organizers and participants, your efforts are much appreciated!


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a community of learners dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.