Juniors hear from MD alumni, local professionals during annual Career Day

Rodrigo Gonzalez, Staff Reporter

Career Day is an annual event dedicated to inspiring junior students as they plan their future careers.

On Feb. 22, juniors rallied to their respective classrooms to listen in on the countless stories from doctors, businessmen and businesswomen, teachers, among other professionals, in the hopes of learning more about where their passions could lead them. However, what makes this day so unique, is the number of speakers that are invited, many of whom are Mater Dei alumni, who have made an impact in their fields and on their communities.

The day began with a keynote speech from Denise Johnson, a career services manager for the University of Southern California. This talk consisted of tutorials on students resumes, managing references incase of career changes and how to find the “right” job.

Rodrigo Gonzalez
ON A WING AND A PRAYER: Doug Betancourt, class of 1990, teaches for the Cypress school district. This was his third year speaking at Career Day.”Every time I come back for Career Day, on the drive over, I pray to God and ask for one thing: that I can change at least one life today,” Bettencourt said.

For example, Doug Bettencourt, class of 1990, is a fifth-grade teacher at Arnold Elementary in Cypress. Originally, Betancourt had plans to seek a profession after obtaining his Degree in Business from Loyola Marymount University. But this plan changed for Betancourt when a friend of his invited him to assist with starting the Mater Dei surf team, which “planted the seed” for him to begin working with youth.As a result, Bettencourt, at the age of 29, changed his career path.

“It’s all about the kids … whatever the kids need, dictates whatever I’m going to do for them,” said Bettencourt, who said that having children of his own also contributes to this philosophy.

Betancourt said that one of the most challenging parts about being a public school teacher is addressing the, “elephant in the room: For a lot of parents, public school is kind of a free day care.”

To combat this issue, Doug had developed a self-described “Triangle of Trust.”

“It’s the parents, students, and myself,” Bettencourt said. “If we are all on the same page, things are going to work out … the teacher takes the initiative once the trust is made.”

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JUST CALL ME THE DOCTOR: John Detterich, class of 1993, is a pediatric cardiologists whose scope covers finding irregularities in blood work, and possibly cures for sickle cell anemia. “Getting grants for research is very complicated,” Detterich said. “The research must be accurate and precise to the dot.”

Another Career Day speaker was John Detterich, class of 1993, who is a pediatric cardiologist. Although Detterich originally went to medical school to become a pediatric oncologist, he later met a pediatric cardiologist whose vivid description of cardiac medicine and care of children inspired Detterich to make the switch. For Detterich, the field of medicine and his love of biology forged a path toward social justice, which is another one of Detterich’s passions. Detterich said that, although the profession is very appealing, being any kind of doctor requires a great amount of discipline.

“You have to be relaxed, you have to have fun, but you also have to work hard,” he said. “Most importantly, you have to be able to accept failure and move on past failure. It is kind of a long road. You have to be strong willed, you have to be persistent, and be able to take the failure, learn from it, and make yourself better.”

For junior Samantha Martinez, Career Day was a chance to hear stories, not only from successful people, but people who walked down the same halls she does now.

“It seems hard to believe that not to long ago they ate lunch at the LeVecke or went to football games.” said Martinez, who attended Detterich’s talk, along with a journalism session. “Now they lead people and save lives.”