Published : Thursday, February 8, 2018 | 6:52 AM
Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger made a pit-stop at John Muir High School Wednesday afternoon to inspire student members of the Mentoring & Partnership for Youth Development (MPYD) program with personal stories of success and overcoming hardships she encountered in her career — one that she never dreamed of as a youth.
Barger spent the lunch hour with the packed classroom of young men on a mission to encourage the “dream big” mentality, a mindset she says has the potential to reap the biggest rewards.
“If you had told me 28 years ago that I’d be a county supervisor, I would have looked at you cross-eyed, but now I realize that working hard and really taking chances is not a bad thing, and actually the worst thing that can happen is that a different door opens,” Barger told the students.
Later she explained, “What I want them to take away from me is to know that anything is possible.”
The Mentoring & Partnership for Youth Development (MPYD) is a male mentoring organization located on the campus of John Muir High School. Its mission is to promote personal growth, scholastic achievement, and professional readiness in an effort to guide male youth toward positive life choices.
“It’s really about mentoring the young people and telling them about the opportunities out there, and why it’s important to really stay focused in school, but also [to] dream big and make a difference in the community,” said Barger.
The Los Angeles County-funded program has been on the campus since 2002. Since then, MPYD said it has worked with moren than 3,500 students who have, as a group, earned a 96% high school graduation rate.
A mainstay of the program is bringin in guest speakers on a regular basis to expose the students to a variety of careers, advice, networking opportunities and more.
Barger wasted no time sharing the realities of her career, and described her life transition from fast-food worker to political intern, and how that changed her life forever.
“I’m going to talk about where I came from and how I achieved what I didn’t know was my goal, but ultimately, was. Everything I’ve done throughout my youth and my career has led me to where I am today,” Barger said. “It’s important to keep plugging away and working hard.”
Barger’s predecessor, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, was an avid supporter of MPYD during his appointment on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and funded field trips and other resources that MPYD strives to provide for its students, according to Barger.
“I saw first-hand the young men that graduated from this program and their lives could have taken a different direction, but because of the mentoring that took place — they became successful,” said Barger.
Barger recalls a success story of a former MPYD student that has since worked his way up at an investment banking firm in a career that would have otherwise have remained untapped in his life.
“He’s achieving his dreams that he didn’t even know he could. He didn’t even know the opportunity was there, but it’s because of this program,” said Barger.
MPYD continues to provide students with volunteer mentors, tutoring and exposure to motivational speakers during daily free lunch discussion groups.
Additionally, MPYD offers academic monitoring, a monthly pancake breakfast, a summer residence camp, job placement assistance, Young Voices advisory period, field trips, student council and Pasadena City College MPYD Alumni program to keep students, past and present, in the loop.
“I hope they take away the fact that if you dream big, you can do anything,” said Barger.
For more about the program visit http://www.mpyd.org/