Over 1,500 local high school students got a chance Friday to explore the possibilities for what lies ahead of them at Hancock College’s Career Exploration Day.

The career fair saw over 100 local businesses set up booths at the college’s Santa Maria campus, giving students who were bused in from Pioneer Valley, Santa Maria, St. Joseph, Righetti and Delta high schools the opportunity to talk with local professionals.

Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and the California Trucking Association were a few of the many organizations on-hand, while recruiters from local emergencies services and the separate branches of the military offered students the chance to meet uniformed professionals.

“It’s a great opportunity for young people to connect,” said Ryan Miller of Lockheed Martin. “We are always looking to build partnerships, and I’m impressed with Hancock College and these students.”

High school students scurried from booth to booth, spread across the campus quad, gathering stickers that would make them eligible for prizes and chatting with those running the booths. 

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“One kid out of a group of five might be the only one who’s really interested, but it’s great getting out and connecting with them,” said Daryl Petrilli, project manager for 19Six Architecture. 

Besides business, the Career Exploration Day offered the students a chance to chat with representatives from the various programs at Hancock, like engineering, music and nursing. 

The high school students also were treated to an “upcycled” fashion show, organized by Hancock fashion students.

“We are overwhelmed with the turnout today,” said Marie Jean Abatti, lab assistant at Hancock College’s Writing Lab. “The students have been so attentive and hungry for information. They’ve asked so many questions; it’s just wonderful.”