Waimea Canyon alumni give back at career day

WAIMEA — Capt. Tracy Cummings of the Waimea fire station told students they need to study hard because a lot of the modern fire equipment use computers.

The Kauai fire captain was one of 22 exhibitors who participated in the annual Waimea Canyon Middle School career day Thursday for the school’s sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students. Many exhibitors and presenters were represented by alumni of Waimea Canyon Middle School.

“It’s nice to come back and see the teachers,” said Ashford Rita of Kuhio Motors, who collaborated with Daryl Gerardo of the Kauai Community College automotive department in displaying and speaking on hybrid and all-electric vehicles.

“The best-paying jobs are in sales,” Rita told the students who were enamored with the plethora of modern features in the Nissan Leaf, an all-electric vehicle which was compared with the Toyota Prius, a hybrid vehicle. “It also feels good to come back and be able to mentor students. It’s like giving back.”

The display, enhanced throughout the morning by the addition of dragsters, hot rods and a junior dragster, appeared to attract more attention than the careers as Gerardo punched the button that triggered a cutaway model of a hybrid engine.

“This is the same model students use in the new hybrid vehicle program at the college,” Gerardo said. “It’s an actual engine which has been cut away so students can see how it operates.”

Gerardo said the Kauai Community College was recently approved for its Master class of the National Academy of Technical Educators Foundation certification through the efforts of Gordon Talbo. Gerardo said the Master designation covers all areas of the Kauai CC Automotive program including the new hybrid vehicle program which started this fall.

“It puts the college on the same field as other NATEF accredited institutions,” Gerardo said.

Pacific Missile Range Facility at Mana assistant fire chief Janis Kimata was also an alumnus of Waimea Canyon.

“We didn’t have career day events when I was here,” she said. “When my grandma found out I was going to be a fire person, she went crazy.”

Kimata said she always knew she wanted to do something to help others and originally pursued nursing as a career.

“But I cry too much,” she said, “And the counselor suggested I try another field of study.”

PMRF firefighters Jason Peralta and Jordon Dizon, a former University of Colorado standout and a National Football League Detroit Lion, were also Waimea Canyon alumni.

“Jordon said the classroom we’re using for career day used to be one of his homerooms,” Kimata said.

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