“Ticket out of Nowheresville” or “Bring ’em home”? The choice is ours

Summer Academy (Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone)

My son and I are at Sacramento State this week for “Summer Academies for High School Students,” a cool program. “Summer Academies provide high school students with the unique opportunity to explore various career paths during one-week, specialized courses while being introduced to the college experience.”

It’s a wonderful program — he’s in the health careers and biotech courses, based on his own interests — with top-notch college instructors. (For example, Dr. Christina Strandgaard earned her bachelor’s degree in nutrition at UC Davis, her master’s degree in nutritional science from the University of Washington, and returned to UC Davis for her doctorate in endocrinology — a great role model for aspiring teens).

Other Summer Academy courses include cybersecurity, government, engineering and robotics, farm to fork, fashion, fire, forensics, law enforcement, multimedia journalism and theater and performing arts.

It’s a good opportunity for my son and I to visit and talk about careers over dinner. It’s also a good opportunity for him to be exposed to some ethnic diversity — in short supply in our community. Last year, our son took a summer writing course at Sac State.

After I dropped him off at the morning class, I grabbed a cup of coffee and The Wall Street Journal. I was drawn to an article titled “In Rural American, students chase big-city dreams.”

With a dateline in Mahaska County, Iowa it read: “Many young people in rural communities now see college not so much as a door to opportunity as a ticket out of Nowheresville. The result is a redistribution of educated graduates to urban areas, which is helping to widen the divide in educational attainment between urban and rural areas.”

This is a theme explored regularly on this blog.

Our magazine also is proud to feature the more positive outcome, what we have called “Bring Them Home.” These are stories about locals who went to college or the “big city” and returned to run successful businesses or land good jobs. Examples we’ve written about are James and John Arbaugh and Wendy Van Wagner.

I don’t know where our son will wind up. He’s been having a good conservation with a local pediatrician who grew up in Colfax, went Back East to medical school and returned home.

It’s going to “take a village” to bring these youths home. And the responsibility lies with more than the ERC. It rests with all our local institutions. We need civic, political and business leaders who can inspire our youth. So far, I don’t see enough of that.

The consequences could be dire, including for the retirees who will depend on younger people to take care of them.

About jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.
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3 Responses to “Ticket out of Nowheresville” or “Bring ’em home”? The choice is ours

  1. Chris Bishop says:

    Not to change the subject, but CSU Sacramento has an excellent summer program. I’ve taken courses there several summers for their AP program (AP Chemistry). People fly in from all over the country. My last Professor was Canadian. If I do AP Biology, that’s my school.

  2. Judith Lowry says:

    Okay, I will go off topic a bit as well.
    I notice so many young folks covered in tattoos.
    Does this affect employment in some job fields?
    Should it?
    When the fad is over, and it is a fad, what then?
    I worry how these young folks will look in a few years because I remember older veterans’ tattoos getting fuzzy with age 20 years after WWII.
    I predict that clear skin will eventually become the popular standard for beauty again and there will be some regrets among the inked.
    When we were young in the 60’s we thought brush cuts on men would never be popular again.
    Then came the 80’s and Val Kilmer in Top Gun.
    Oh well.

  3. Steve Frisch says:

    As someone who has hired many, many young people over the years, by my count more than 300 hires over 25 years, I have never found tattoos to be an accurate indicator of performance. My information is of course anecdotal,

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