Varied and Exciting Destinations: Eighth Annual Career Forum

Every single thing you do will bring something to your future. – Ariel Benson, participant, organizer, parent

This quote was noted by a student who attended the Mount Madonna School (MMS) eighth annual Career Day Forum on Friday March 3. A plethora of professions were represented as high school students, staff, parents and alumni gathered to compete, “date” and converse. The Forum is a way for MMS parents to introduce high school students to some of the diverse jobs and careers out there, as well as the many different paths one can take to get to these varied and exciting destinations.

With categories ranging from “On the Summit” to “Famous People,” we discovered that Supriya McDonald cleaned hotel rooms and sold baked goods as first jobs; Erin Mitchell (’10) holds a degree in anthropology; and that Nancy Reagan was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. Students were particularly interested to hear about how and why math teacher Christopher Werry switched majors during his last year of college. Exploring some bumps in the road for some of our own teachers as well as for some globally recognized figures was noted by some students to be “calming” during the college application process.

Speed dating followed a brief introduction of our 11 volunteer participants drawn from parents and alumni in our community. Student applause followed several of these introductions, especially for former punk-rock band member Rebecca Huth (Aria, 8th) who now works in computer graphics: clearly our students are music lovers! Speed dating involved groups of four to five students chatting with each participant for five minutes to ask questions about their career choice, prior schooling, passions that directed their path and details about their jobs.

Students interested in marine biology were enthralled to meet with alum Tobias Aguirre (’94) who had plenty to share about his business FishWise, which promotes sustainable practices related to ocean-based food consumption. The fact that he still holds an MMS volleyball record was inspiring as well! Students learned from former MMS art teacher Sandy Shaw that it is indeed possible to make a living as a visual artist, and from Lynn Richards, that the compassion she experienced after a traumatic accident in high school highly influenced her decision to become a dental hygienist (that, and a flexible schedule allowing her to travel the world).

We are grateful to those in our community who brought this event together this year: Christine Smith, Peggy Moore, Forest Campbell, Debbie Dutra, John Thomas, Brian Liddicoat, Claudine Bharghavan, Carson Kelly, Robert Culbertson, Sandy Shaw, Carla Gomez, and ourselves, Ariel Benson and Beth Brennan.

And a sincere thank you to our participants for sharing your inspiring stories and your time with us: Michelle Van Ooy, Ariel Benson, Len Willis, Rebecca Huth, Tobias Aguirre, Lynn Richards, Brian Liddicoat, Sandy Shaw, Devin Kumar (’06) , Forrest Cambell, and Berra Yazar-Klosinski.

“I liked learning about the different career paths and ways to get there,” shared a student, at the event’s conclusion, echoing a sentiment shared by many.

“What I heard at the Forum was amazing, insightful, eye-opening,” agreed a classmate. “It gave me hope for my future.”


Story by Beth Brennan and Ariel Benson; photos by Carla Gomez

Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, Director of Marketing & Communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 355 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.



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