Marysville, Arlington take part in Students of Color Conference

EVERETT — Marysville and Arlington kids joined thousands of fellow middle and high schoolers from across the county at Everett Community College's 14th annual Students of Color Career Conference March 24.

Marysville's Izaiah Williams

Marysville's Izaiah Williams

EVERETT — Marysville and Arlington kids joined thousands of fellow middle and high schoolers from across the county at Everett Community College’s 14th annual Students of Color Career Conference March 24.

It was the first such conference for Kilean Smith, a 13-year-old eighth-grader from Marysville Middle School, and Isaiah Valera, a 16-year-old junior at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

Kilean hadn’t been sure what he wanted to do with his future, but sitting in on a session about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math has made him lean toward STEM.

“I didn’t realize how much technology we use every day,” Kilean said. “It’s a growth industry, and I’m good at using technology.”

Isaiah had already made up his mind to go into computer engineering, because he wanted to emulate his cousin.

“He was the first in our family to go to college,” Isaiah said. “He’s pretty smart, so I thought we could combine our ideas to create new technology.”

Both young men were inspired by the stories they’d heard from adult professionals of color, including Erin Jones, superintendent of the Tacoma School District.

“They talked about how they’d overcome and prevailed,” Isaiah said. “What they’ve accomplished is inspiring. No matter what, if you just persevere and put your best foot forward, you can make it too.”

“All of [Jones’] kids managed to do cool things, even though they had problems,” Kilean said. “If you think you’re no good, you just need to put your mind to it, and you can accomplish anything.”

Arlington High School’s students included sophomore J’Lanelle Julien and Noah Jackson, both of whom attended last year’s conference.

J’Lanelle is weighing her options between the Air Force Academy and going to UCLA to become a lawyer, the latter because she loves debates and thrives in mock trials.

As for Noah, he hopes to parlay his lifelong love of music into forming his own label eventually.

Both students were grateful for the opportunities they learned about.

“You may look different, but you’re no better or worse than anyone else,” said Noah, who was impressed by the diversity he saw at the EvCC campus.

“There are so many options for what you can do with your life,” J’Lanelle said. “You have to go after what you want, and you need to stay in school and get an education. No matter what your race is, you can still go to school, and it’a important to have that background.”

Master Sgt. Alvin Moore, of the AHS Air Force Junior ROTC program, is an instructor and a man of color, so he was gratified to see his students benefitting from an event the likes of which he could have used when he was their age.

“This way, students of color aren’t intimated by the prospect of college,” Moore said. “It changes your perspective about possible career paths when you can talk with successful professionals who look like you. Your mindset is not confined to a box. Even if no one else has done something, they still have the potential to do it. As I tell all my kids, don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”

More in News

Lions Clubs ‘Give Big for Health’ White Cane Days on Giving Tuesday

Undeterred by COVID, clubs fundraise online for vision, hearing and health screening programs

Inslee: Stay home for 2 weeks

By Jerry Cornfield and Zachariah Bryan The Herald OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay… Continue reading

Fences have been put up around Marysville playgrounds to keep kids off. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville leaders concerned as (almost) everything’s closing

By Steve Powell MARYSVILLE – Within hours of Gov. Jay Inslee’s… Continue reading


Beware of coronavirus scams SEATTLE – U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran is… Continue reading

Jennifer Thompson, left, and her father Ron Thompson secure a new remembrance plaque to the Oso slide site gate on Sunday, near Oso. Ron Thompson handcrafts a new plaque for the gate every year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Community remembers Oso slide victims, survivors

By Ben Watanabe The Herald OSO — The power of remembering the… Continue reading

People gather to pick up special allergy meals before leaving Lakewood High School on Wednesday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Districts taking meals to students since schools are closed

By Stephanie Davey The Herald LAKEWOOD — Children wearing pajamas stood outside… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Letter about coronavirus from Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring

This is an edited version of a letter Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Marysville leaders’ trip to D.C. productive

MARYSVILLE – City leaders recently obtained advice on how to get more… Continue reading

City Council works toward financing new Fire Station 48

ARLINGTON – The city signed an agreement with Sterling Bank to negotiate… Continue reading

DOUGLAS BUell/Staff Photos                                Lead cook Keina Gowins with Presidents Elementary hands out free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to students and parents outside the school Wednesday. Presidents and AHS serve as central kitchen sites for preparing meals, which starting next week will expand to 12 delivery sites from Silvana to Oso. Right, Arlington Food Bank executive director Carla Gastineau and Mike Simpson, food bank board president and owner of Arlington Grocery Outlet, partnered with the district with their Meals Til Monday program, and gave a woman a box of donated food while at Presidents.
Arlington students won’t go hungry during the COVID-19 school closures

ARLINGTON – Arlington schools are closed through April 24 to help fight… Continue reading

City of Arlington carries out operational changes to encourage social distancing
City of Arlington carries out operational changes to encourage social distancing

ARLINGTON – The city has made a series of operational changes in… Continue reading