“I’m a proud 1991 graduate of Renton High School,” proclaimed Katina Thornock, Director of Corporate Counsel and Litigation at Starbucks Corporation.

The students in the room—the Renton High School Class of 2019—perked up as they listened to an accomplished attorney for one of Seattle’s most well-known brands talk about coming from the same place as them. She told them that she was the first person in her family to ever go to college. “I’m proud to create a new legacy for my family,” said Katina. “And to demonstrate that no matter what your background is, you can in fact do it.” She also reminisced about the Taco Time across from Renton High School where she worked for four years. Students instantly knew which location she was talking about because it’s still a hangout for Renton students. “At times I felt like I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I stuck with it,” said Katina, “And I encourage you all to just stick with it and never give up.”

During DiscoverU Week this year, hundreds of students from King County participated in worksite tours at companies in the region. The goal is for students to see real community members in real careers—and start thinking about the possibilities in their lives.

As the Starbucks employees shared their own college and career paths, the 11th graders in the room started envisioning their own futures.

“I want to be a cardiothoracic surgeon, but I’m not sure yet,” said Sumaya. “I just want o do a little of everything!”

“I want to be a nurse,” said Yordi. “I’m going to travel back to Ethiopia and work there.”

“There are a lot of jobs we didn’t know about before. We had no idea that you could be a lawyer for Starbucks,” said Lauren. “There’s a lot of stuff you can do and there’s a lot of companies you can do it in.”

“I didn’t know you could have so many opportunities through work,” said Hanna. “The panelist who talked about traveling everywhere and living in other places—I thought that was so cool. I learned that it’s actually not that stressful to make career choices. Like if you plan on learning one thing and then you start and it just doesn’t work out and you’re not liking it anymore, it’s never too late to find something new. You can just switch it up and do something that actually inspires you.”

Josh, another Starbucks employee, reminded the students: “That French test you take, that Geometry test you take, that job at Taco Time that you have… those things may not feel like they’re steps at the time, but all of those things cumulatively are adding up to something. And if you stay focused on whatever your goal and arrange those steps, you’ll get there.”

Road Map Project worksite tours are opportunities for high school students to visit workplaces and see what local companies do, hear from employees about their educational and professional pathways, and participate in work-based activities. 

Posted in: College and Career Readiness

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