First ‘Lunch and Learn’ Hosted By Service Members, Alumni

20 students attended the presentation from US service members


Matthew Laporte

Speaking to a group of hopeful armed service recruits, Petty Officer Skylar Lao and Sergeant Drury James talk about various aspects of joining the military. Students learned about the different service groups and what they needed to do now to be successful. “Be outstanding in your classes, don’t have missing assignments, turn in your work on time, listen to your teachers,” James said. “How you apply yourself in this school and how much effort you put forth, will set you up for success.”

Kylie Dacquel, Staff Writer

Starting off the newly created “Lunch and Learn” speaker series, service members from the Navy and Marines, Petty Officer Skylar Lao and Sergeant Drury James met with students on September 15 in the ballroom.

“In boot camp, each branch specializes in a specific field and what they want you to know,” Lao said. “Since we’re on ships, we teach firefighting and basic damage control.” 

The purpose of the boot camp serves to provide those with enough experience to apply to the military. However, recruits are expected to know certain lessons not taught in boot camp.

“Everything that I learned at Southwest, especially in the Automotive program, was something I used as a mechanic,” former Automotive program student Lao said. “I took two days to learn how to solder here at Southwest and a couple years later in the Navy, that knowledge proved useful. One of our biggest machines was down because of a broken wire and I was the only person who knew how to solder.”

Students were able to ask questions to learn more about the service and what they needed to know prior to applying for boot camp. Senior Justin Paul Daez has already enlisted in the Navy and attended the meeting to become more prepared for life after graduation.

“Being in the Automotive program just like the officer [Lao], makes me more comfortable with the transition from high school to the military,” Daez said. “I just feel comfortable knowing that I can use my experiences from Southwest to go into the military and apply my knowledge that way.”

The “Lunch and Learn” speaker series is a new opportunity for students to learn more about different ideas and career paths. Community Partnership Coordinator Sara Hartwich has already planned out several opportunities throughout this school year.

“Our goal is to make sure that we get industry partners from outside to come in and let the students know what is out there.” Hartwich said. “I see their [students] engagement so hopefully bringing in these opportunities will spark inspiration. It’s very important to engage students, especially because we’re a magnet CTA, so I’d like to see this continue on.”