View from Parkway Heights Middle School

Parkway Heights Middle School Assembles Largest Ever Lineup of Career Day Speakers

San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa visits Parkway Heights Middle School on Career Day.
“What’s your dream?” 
That was the question San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa put to a roomful of students on February 1, 2023, as part of career day at Parkway Heights Middle School.
“I want to play basketball in the NBA,” said a student.
“That’s a good dream,” Canepa responded, before walking students through an interactive lesson in budgeting and public expenditures.
“In our community we have parks, police, fire, and libraries,” Canepa said. “Now, let’s pretend there are budget cuts, and we have to decide how to fund each of these things.”
Career day is an annual event that features conversations between students, local business owners, and representatives from public and private sector employers in the Bay Area.
Career Day speaker selfie
“We’ve been doing this for 15 years,” said Parkway Administrative Assistant Deanna Moreno, who helped organize the day’s events, “but this is one of our biggest Career Days ever.”
Canepa was one of 40 speakers scheduled to visit Parkway to help students learn more about different professions and career paths. 
Zoom Software and Sales Engineer Darryl WilsonAmong that lineup was Darryl Wilson, a software and sales engineer at videoconferencing company Zoom.

Wilson, who is African-American, said he got his start in the industry through an IT training program at Franklin Templeton Investments, where he was working in the 1990s. Through the program, he was able to take programming classes at the College of San Mateo. 

He said he found out about career day after seeing an ad in the San Mateo Daily Journal looking for event speakers.

That was two years ago, but the school stayed in touch with him through the pandemic, leading to his visit on February 1.
“I want to do whatever I can do to help kids be the best they can be,” Wilson said, noting that training programs like the one that helped him enter the tech industry are the exception rather than the rule today. 
Also in attendance at Career Day were several Parkway Heights Middle School alumni. 
This included Bella Vasquez, who graduated from Parkway in 2016, and who now runs a mobile dog grooming business with her friend Ashley Hassmer. 
Bella Vasquez and Ashley Hassmer's mobile dog grooming business
“I started working in Petsmart and then went to Petco, which is where I met Ashley,” she said. “We decided to start our own business, because we always had our old clients calling us.”
Another recent Parkway graduate was Jessy Singh, who now works as a technical recruiter for video game company Roblox.
“We find the people who help build Roblox,” Singh said.

Meanwhile, Google Research Manager Axle Brown got students excited when he shared how he acquired old computers in his youth and resold them at higher margins. 

Google User Research Manager Axle Brown
Despite this early experience with entrepreneurship, Brown said he originally went to college to become a doctor.  

However, he changed his path once he got involved in the Obama presidential campaign and parlayed that involvement into a position as a special assistant for entrepreneurship and innovation with the United States Department of Energy.
“My career has not been a straight line,” said Brown. “I wanted to be a doctor, but my experience as a researcher in college has helped me to do all these different things.”
Although Career Day had been on hiatus since 2020 due to COVID-19, its return this year with such a large contingent of participants speaks to its continued relevance among the Parkway community.