The District 207 Board of Education named three students as “207’s Best” in the area of career exploration during the April meeting. The students recognized were Anna-Christina Gonzalez from Maine West, Inara A. Matani from Maine East and Thomas “Tommy” Weber from Maine South.
Anna-Christina is a perfect example of what District 207 aspires to help every student “find their why” says Maine West Principal Dr. Eileen McMahon. She calls Anna-Christina’s journey one that has been “thoughtful, ground and methodical” to find her chosen path after high school.
She spent the summer between freshman and sophomore year in an internship with a daycare center. While she loved that work, she was deeply affected by the serious illnesses suffered by members of her family and that was when she became immersed in her exploration of health care fields. She attended numerous medical appointments, serving as a translator and advocate. During that experience, she learned the importance communication plays in ensuring a patient’s needs. That was when she began exploring health care careers by attending workshops, job shadows and a six-week Saturday program at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She took Health Care Careers at school and shadowed EMTs and nurses. She took AP Psychology and found a love for neuroscience.
She plans to attend Loyola University-Chicago to study psychology on a pre-medicine track. The district recently created a video sharing her story that can be watched at https://youtu.be/wRCBpVTSHsU
Inara started her career exploration in Consumer Education when she had no idea what she wanted to pursue but knew she liked film. During the Consumer Education course, she learned about business. These seeds of interest in both business and film led her to a series of experiences feeding the next set of learning including taking Business Law, Marketing, Virtual Entrepreneurship International, Advanced TV & Film, College Accounting, Broadcasting and Entrepreneurship.
Her next career experiences were wide and varied within these two interests from that point including:
- Participating in Foundations Club where the team came in first place in the NIU challenge for Mergers and Acquisitions against other high school and college teams
- Participating in a case study while roleplaying as a lawyer in a real courthouse
- Participating in the VEI trade show and having to interact with real customers to sell a product
- Participating in the D207 TV Production internship and working on projects from concept to production
- Taking part in a career trek to Allstate
- Securing an internship that lead to a paid position with a small tech company
Inara plans to continue working for the small tech company in their effort to get technology to students in underprivileged communities, while she attends college at DePaul, majoring in Finance & Accounting. She eventually wants to become an investment banker.
Tommy has been heavily involved in the business and political classes at Maine South from the second he stepped on to campus. He’s taken advantage of our internship program to its full extent while at Maine South. During the first semester he interned with Brad Stephens’ campaign and learned a lot about state politics. With the campaign, he worked on canvassing, phone banks, and data inputs. Interested in the business of politics, he has now joined Park Ridge Alderman John Moran in city council and budget planning meetings. Working with Mr. Moran, Tommy has sat in on financial planning meetings with individuals as they set a course for their future. He’s learned quite a bit about how the city runs and the ins and outs of what it means to put together planning for Park Ridge.
Tommy has taken business classes like Finance and Investing, Marketing and Intro to Business. He plans to study political science at Loyola University-Chicago.