Jevan Lane was well prepared as he walked into the library at South High School.
He paused for a moment to take a look at the surroundings. Familiar, yet different for Lane.
“It wasn’t like this when I went here,” Lane said about the school’s refurbished library.
More than a decade after he last roamed the halls and classrooms of South High, Lane returned with several of his Aera colleagues to help mentor students in the MS3 program – one that’s dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math – and one that Aera has supported for more than 20 years.
Earlier this month, 45 Aera mentors were teamed with 169 South High students, including 58 seniors – almost all headed to college in the fall of 2019. The program is one of Aera’s biggest community efforts, and one that has helped produce a slew of top graduates.
The 2018 class featured students headed to Harvard, UCLA, UC Irvine and elsewhere, but it also produced students who were staying close to home at Cal State University Bakersfield and Bakersfield College. Four graduates were selected to continue their Aera work as interns.
“The major takeaway of this as a high school intern is the motivation I get to further my education so that I can be able to come back to Aera as a college intern,” said Kimberly Guzman, a 2018 grad and intern, who plans to study electrical engineering at CSUB.
The program also helps connect students to the wider career opportunities that Aera, along with the rest of the oil and gas industry, offers, and how it plays a leading role in the local economy.
“(The students) strive to learn as much as they can about Aera and the oil industry in general,’’ said Michelle Geherty, herself a South High grad, who is a petrophysicist, and who continues to mentor students. “They take pride in their work and are quickly coming up to speed on the technology we are using to improve our ability to work effectively.”
While the students learn about the industry from a wide range of Aera professionals, the opportunity to mentor was one that is often cherished by many at Aera, including Lane.
“As a graduate of South High, it was not that long ago that I sat in the same seat as these MS3 students pondering life’s tough question of “what do I want to do post-graduation?” said Lane, who has worked for Aera for six years as a health and safety specialist at the Belridge Producing Complex.
“The opportunity to serve as a mentor is not just an opportunity to repay those who guided me toward my answer to that question, but it is also a chance to pay it forward by supporting Area’s Purpose, Vision and Values.”
Surrounded by five wide-eyed sophomore boys, Lane shared his story about working at Aera and some of the uncertainty he felt after graduating from high school.
When Lane was in high school he hadn’t heard of the MS3 program, and was focused on a career in public safety. It wasn’t until after he had graduated, and started taking courses at CSUB in environmental health that he realized his future was going to be in oil and gas.
“Many of these kids possess high potential and are grateful for the volunteers taking interest in their future endeavors,” Lane said. I’m prepared and look forward to providing both insight on basic life skills that will help them transition into adulthood, as well as give technical knowledge I have gained in the oil and gas industry.”
Those insights have helped power a program that has helped lead to some bigger and better things for graduates of the program.
The 2018 graduating class featured 56 students, including more than 40 headed off to college, but one of the big prizes were four internships and the takeaways have been significant for the students selected.
“I realize how great the culture at Aera is and how much Aera prides itself in being the best at being environmentally friendly, emphasizing safety, and ensuring that all employees are able to work in a safe environment where they feel welcome,” said Noe Garcia, a 2018 MS3 graduate, who will attend UCLA in the coming weeks.
At the end of the year, four more students will be selected to be a part of the internship program.
“Initially, I was just intrigued by the work we’re doing,” said Malcolm Francisco, who will attend UCLA and study electrical engineering. “Now it’s more about the unique workplace at Aera. I can tell it’s a great place to be and see why people speak so well of it.”