How did you choose your line of work? What motivates you to pursue your dream? In what ways do you pursue a life of purpose?

These are some of the questions our Wave-Makers explored at our third annual Career Exploration Day, which featured three keynote speakers and 60 representatives from organizations including Facebook, Bayer, Verizon, the Golden State Warriors, the Richmond Police, and the World Affairs Council.

Here are just a few of the many highlights from the day:

  • Keynote speaker Khristopher Sandifer—brand strategist and photographer for celebrities including Stephen Curry, Michael B. Jordan, Marshawn Lynch and Andre Ward —shared his advice for achieving a life dream. “Have you ever had a dream that felt crazy?” he asked the audience. Mr. Sandifer decided he wanted to be a photographer at age 12 and persisted towards his vision despite many doubts from others. “You can achieve so much—but the question is will you? Say it with me: No one tells me no.”
  • Speaker Charleton Lightfoot described his path to becoming a firefighter. While studying pre-law, Mr. Charleton decided he didn’t want to read books for the next three years—he wanted to be out in the field helping others. He clarified that firefighters only spend 5% of their time putting out fires—the rest is responding to 911 calls (80% of the time) and doing public education (15% of the time). And, he dispelled a storied myth: firefighters don’t rescue cats from trees.
  • Speaker Jessica Wind, Senior Product Manager at Genentech, originally wanted to be a doctor but was afraid of blood, so instead, she decided to pursue biomedical engineering, working to improve the delivery of drugs into the body. She soon realized that as a people person, working in a lab didn’t give her enough people time. Eventually, she made her way to Genentech, where she oversees marketing strategy for drugs in areas of unmet need, such as Alzheimer’s. “My job is to get people the health and care they need,” she says.

Via College and Career Counseling at Making Waves Academy, our job is to motivate our students to persist towards achieving the life goals and dreams they have for themselves. We believe that having a holistic life dream is central to the success of our students. Via Career Exploration Day, we expose our students to a variety of life dreams—and hopefully inspire them to live a life of purpose, discovery, freedom, intellect, and adventure. Thanks to all the Career Day participants who helped our students see concrete evidence of people who are living out their life dreams.


Jon Siapno is Director of College & Career Counseling at Making Waves Academy.