CAA Friends, Alumni Share Trade Secrets

March 17, 2017 | Stacy Knight

Columbia Adventist Academy (CAA) in Battle Ground, Wash., is blessed to be a part of a diverse and supportive community and, in turn, sends graduates to become part of that community in many different ways, sharing their talents to bless others. CAA welcomed back more than a dozen of those graduates in February, along with many other supporters of the school, to share with the current students the paths that led them to their careers and the amazing things they do on a daily basis.

Les Zollbrecht, director of Big Lake Youth Camp in Sisters, Ore., started off the morning with the keynote speech, focusing on how God has led him in his career path. Sophomore Casey Shearer gained a deeper understanding “that God can prepare you for what He wants you to do.”

Zollbrecht encouraged students to consider what they love and are capable of, as well as the practicality of needing to actually make money, in considering careers. He emphasized the importance of connecting with people and reaching out. “It made me feel motivated to pursue my goals,” says Emily Kerbs, a sophomore. 

Students spent the rest of the morning attending 35-minute sessions presented by professionals in a wide variety of fields. Nearly 50 different speakers came, including the alumni. The career paths presented gave the students diverse options. Students heard from many perspectives in the medical field, including from a pharmacist, flight nurse, labor and delivery nurse, emergency medicine, dentist and more. They heard from people in the business world like small-business owners, accountants and even a Nike footwear developer. Other guests included a photographer, an author/illustrator, an interior designer and an executive chef. 

Students preselected which careers most interested them; each student was able to hear six speakers. They enjoyed hands-on experiences in many of the presentations. Areny Palomera, a junior, enjoyed hearing from anesthesiologist and CAA graduate Ryan White, saying, “It was awesome because I actually got to touch some of the supplies Dr. White uses.” 

Labor and delivery nurse and CAA alumnus Laurisa Pearson impressed students as well. “I really liked Mrs. Pearson because she actually brought in someone and did an ultrasound, which was super cool,” says sophomore Breanna Ermshar. 

The fact that these presenters gave up their time in support of CAA’s students and their futures did not go unnoticed. Students, such as sophomore Rachelle Vega, agreed they “liked that these people actually took time out of their day to come and talk to us.”

Students also expressed their appreciation for the variety of careers presented, as well as the wealth of good information on college majors, day-to-day job requirements and how to reach out to people in any field. They were challenged throughout the day to think about the payout — not necessarily financial — from hard work and the importance getting a well-rounded education. 

Most importantly, students saw time and again the role God played in leading many of the presenters to where they are now. “It gave me a way to see a possible future God has for me," says Mitchell Powers, sophomore.