Students get an insider's look at public sector | April 5, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - April 5, 2013

Students get an insider's look at public sector

City, school officials offer insights as part of Youth in Government Day

by Glenn Wohltmann

Pleasanton's annual Youth in Government Day hopes to introduce some of the city's high schoolers to job opportunities in the public sector, and if last Tuesday's event is any example, it's working.

Sixty students from Amador, Foothill, Village and Horizon high schools attended the day, shadowing elected and appointed officials from city government and the school district, from Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi to School Board Member Joan Laursen to Mayor Jerry Thorne and City Manager Nelson Fialho.

Both Fialho and Ahmadi offered advice when the students gathered at the Firehouse Arts Center in the morning.

Fialho offered a quote from President John F. Kennedy, reminding them that "history will judge you and as the years pass, you will ultimately judge yourself on the extent to which you have used your gifts to lighten and enrich the lives of others."

Like the city manager, Ahmadi told the students that no matter where they end up, they should help others.

"Service is the rent you pay for the space you occupy on this earth," she said.

Fialho told the two students who shadowed him for part of the day that he'd decided to work in city management following a youth-in-government day he attended.

Tuesday morning, they tagged along as Fialho met with Daniel Smith, director of the city's operation center, where they discussed plans for some modifications to the facility on Busch Road.

In the afternoon, the pair sat in on Fialho's weekly meeting with Mayor Jerry Thorne, where they discussed next week's City Council agenda, the upcoming Planning Commission meeting and the proposed development at the California Center on Rosewood Drive.

Both of the students, Shya Chand, a 17-year-old senior at Amador, and John Malchar, a 16-year-old junior at Foothill, said they gained insights from their time with the city manager.

Chand said the day may have changed her career path.

"It really solidified that I want to go into government. It really makes me want to do this in the future," she said. "I like the way he runs the city -- it definitely does seem like a career path."

Malchar already has his career path laid out. He hopes to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and serve 20 years in the military. After that, he was hoping for a career in state or federal politics as an elected official.

"Seeing what Mr. Fialho did was interesting to me and opened me up to the idea of something local," he said.

Malchar added that time in the military could help give him a unique perspective toward helping others.

Both Chand and Malchar have already done internships, Chand at a local law office and Malchar at Congressman Jerry McNerney's office.

While most of the attendees at the Youth in Government Day may have their career paths already laid out, part of the afternoon was dedicated to reducing stress while pursuing success.

Students were videotaped on stage after creating slogans they'll hopefully remember later in life.


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