HAVERHILL– Seven Whittier Tech alumni visited the school Friday to share their career experiences and insights with freshmen students.
This is the eighth year the school has held an alumni panel for freshmen students. The freshmen class also selected their shops on Friday, which solidifies the programs of study they will pursue over the rest of their high school career.
“It’s so valuable for our students to hear from alumni, and gain a better understanding of how the education they’re receiving here will benefit them in their future careers,” Superintendent Lynch said. “The panel also highlighted the value of forming connections with peers and networking. I’d like to thank all of the panelists who generously gave their time to talk to students today.”
Alumni who attended the panel included Richard Langlois, a journeyman electrician at Professional Electrical Contracting, night school instructor at Whittier and class of 2010 graduate; Allison Saffie, an office manager at Total Highway Services, Methuen City Councillor and class of 2011 graduate; Leah Hoosick, owner of Northern Roots Salon and Skincare in Georgetown and class of 2013 graduate; Mark Burns, director of data analytics at Altair and a class of 2006 graduate; Melissa Padilla, director of Cambridge College in Lawrence, adjunct professor of early education at Cambridge College and class of 2000 graduate; Lia Zaino, registered nurse at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington and class of 2014 graduate; and Nick Kedian, assistant general manager and function sales director for Mission on the Bay and 2016 graduate.
The panel was also overseen by Tia Roy, director of community partnerships at Whittier and class of 2011 graduate.
Several panelists expressed the benefit their vocational education provides, even if their current career is not linked to what they studied.
“It’s cool to know that you will be able to provide for yourself,” Saffie said. “Every shop gives you that.”
The panelists also encouraged students to network, and stressed the value of connecting with fellow alumni.
“You just need to keep opportunities open, make connections and don’t burn bridges,” said Saffie.
Freshmen students also asked questions during two offerings of the panel held throughout the school day Friday. Students asked varying questions about the speaker’s high school experiences, current careers, starting a business, navigating graduation, maintaining high school friendships and financial advice.
“Starting a business is definitely a lot of work,” said Hoosick. “I gave up a lot of going on vacation to save up money, time with friends…. As you get older, we’re all here to help. It’s a lot of work, and I gave up a lot of things, but it definitely pays off in the long run.”
Zaino encouraged students to take advantage of the education they are provided at Whittier Tech.
“We did a lot of hands-on learning in class,” Zaino said. “Always be the one to jump in because you will learn that way.”
The speakers also expressed the importance of asking for help when needed and taking care of their mental health.
“The teachers here are definitely here for you guys, anything you need,” Hoosick said. “It’s good to talk to people if you are stressed out. No one here wants you to fail. If you need something, say something.”
The speakers also discussed the value technology offers students as they learn and hone their skills at school, as well as the dangers of social media, the negative impacts technology can have on a person’s social and emotional health, and the need to know when to put a phone down and focus on the work or company at hand.