With clenched teeth and trembling muscles, Carter Gray strained to squeeze out his 15th pull-up as his fellow classmates cheered on the Hesperia High School sophomore.
"Today's record is 16 and he almost did it," said Daniel Ayala, Staff Sgt. with the United States Marine Corp. during the school's 6th annual college and career day event on Friday. "We're here discussing some options that these students have with the Marine Corp., such as educational benefits and career choices."
"I want to join the military, but I don't know exactly what yet," Gray said. "My grandpa took me to a lot of air shows, so I think I want to be a pilot and fly large cargo planes."
Close to 40 presenters from various colleges, businesses, civic and military groups met with more than 800 students in the school's gym, which was a buzz of activity during the three-hour event.
"I like math and science, so I thought engineering would be a great pursuit," said freshman Michelle Kennedy, as she visited the Exquadrum table, an aerospace engineering company based in Adelanto. "I just hope I don't want to get behind in my studies."
Salonists from Marinello Schools of Beauty were in the Halloween spirit, as they used their cosmetology skills to create the appearance of open wounds and bizarre growths on mostly female students.
"I thought they just did hair and nails and regular makeup," said junior Alexis Melvin, as the school's director, Melissa Holloway, applied imitation blood to her left hand. "This has really gotten me interested in cosmetology."
Holloway, whose school has 150 students, said giving young people a variety of college and career options helps in the decision making process.
"I would like to study computer engineering at Cal Poly Pomona," said Nataly Alonso, as she carried a stack of college brochures. "I'm always on computers, but I'm not addicted or anything. I just want to know what to do if something goes wrong with someone's computer."
Like many students at the event, Alonso shared her fear of being overwhelmed by the amount of school work required to get into college and the financial responsibility of paying for a quality education.
"Kids worry too much about college loans, and then they hear all this junk about, 'Don't go to college and strike up all these loans,'" said Leslie Rockwell, the school's career and college
specialist. "Kids are so afraid about money that they just want to graduate and go to work."
Loans, which are taken out for education purposes, are investments in the future and should be researched thoroughly, Rockwell said.
"We're all going to be working for the rest of our lives, so our young people need to do their best in high school so they can get a good head start on the future, " Rockewell said. "Hopefully this event will spark a fire in some of our students."
Rene De La Cruz may be reached at (760) 951-6227 or at RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com.