Shadow Hills High School Students Inspired by Alumni
High school, to put it simply, is all about getting prepared for your senior year. To which colleges will you apply? What will you major in? Which career path do you want to take? And, most importantly, how will you find your success?
For most seniors, when the time comes for all of this, it can be very overwhelming. Some feel stuck, and might not know what path they want to take in life. They feel as if they need to have it all figured out before graduation comes around. Which is not true at all!
At Shadow Hills High School one particular senior English teacher is big on it being okay not to have everything figured out right now. Mrs. Karen Hess started a new guest speaker series of past DSUSD alumni to talk to her students and give them advice. They spoke about what they themselves went through not knowing what the next steps after high school would be and where they are now after finding success. Mrs. Hess says, “I want all of my seniors to know that when it comes down to it, it’s okay to not know what you want to do. I wanted to start this guest speaker series because maybe they won’t listen to me, but they’ll listen to alumni who were in their exact shoes once when it comes to all of this.”
So far, there have been four total La Quinta High School and Shadow Hills High School students who have volunteered as guest speakers for this series. They came in and talked to the kids on struggles after high school, and being able to find their success. Mrs. Hess says “The way I did it was I put out a message on Facebook to former students of the DSUSD community, and asked who would be interested in speaking to my seniors about their future goals and giving them guidance. I had an overwhelming response, so that’s really where I started. After I chose a few speakers to start with, I would set up a meeting time during class for the guest speaker to come on a Zoom call and talk to my kids. Something that was really important to me in doing all of this, was that it wouldn’t be limited to only my seniors. So I recorded each meeting, and at the end I would send the video to the rest of the senior English teachers for them to show to their classes as well.”
The four DSUSD alumni that have been guest speakers are: Claudia Torres, Riverside County Employment Counselor (LQHS); Chelsea Bradshaw, Paramedic (LQHS); Daniela Peralta, Nurse (LQHS); Hannah Shaffer, COD pledge program graduate (SHHS).
Claudia, LQHS alumni, is an employment counselor for Riverside County. Her job entails helping families get off of social services and welfare. Mrs. Hess says she prepared an entire PowerPoint presentation for the kids on how to get a job while in college, how to prepare for your job interview, how to get scholarships and where to look, and the big advantages of going to College of the Desert. Claudia also talked about how she never knew that this would be her life. Going from being stuck and not knowing what she wanted to do, to having a job that she loves doing and loves going to every day has really changed her life.
Chelsea, LQHS alumni, is now a paramedic. She spoke about the many challenges she faced straight out of high school. She had a baby at 19 and, by age 23, she was a single stay-at-home mother. She said she had no idea what she was going to do and felt very lost. One day she decided to start volunteering at the fire department. She ended up loving it so much that she applied and was hired full time. She especially enjoyed the paramedic side of it all so she went to paramedic school, and is now a 911 dispatch paramedic. Chelsea spoke to the students about how her life has changed so much for the better and it was all because she was brave enough to keep pushing until she found her passion.
Daniela, LQHS alumni, is now a licensed vocational nurse, working towards becoming a registered nurse. After high school Daniela was working at Starbucks, but realized that wasn’t what she wanted to keep doing with her life. She felt stuck. So one day she went to observe some nursing program classes and she was blown away. She realized that is what she wanted to do so she went and got her LVN and is now in school to obtain her RN. It took her some time, but she is now working in a field that she loves!
Hannah, SHHS alumni, is about to graduate with her associates degree from COD’s Pledge Program in December. She talked about how easy it was to finish her general education with COD, how she hasn’t paid for a single class through the Pledge program, and how you can do that. Hannah also spoke about “RateMyProfessor” and how that helped her handpick professors that she knew she’d love. Hannah has completed her general education and will now continue with her major of biology in hopes of becoming a physician specializing in pediatric oncology.
When asked about her favorite takeaway Mrs. Hess said, “My favorite takeaway was that these were my former students and that they struggled but they were able to find themselves and are now doing something that they love. And I love that they are able to speak to my current students and really inspire them and motivate them for their futures, as well. It’s truly been an amazing experience and I couldn’t be more thankful for them all.”
- Shadow Hills High School: DSUSD