April is National Volunteer Month and is meant to recognize those who give of their time, skills and energy to support different causes, helping others. In honor of the month, Blue Yonder associate Marisa Alvarado, a Senior Support Engineer for the Blue Yonder Warehouse Management solutions, shares her experience volunteering at a local elementary school’s career day.

My husband, Oscar, is a 5th grade teacher and his passion for sharing knowledge and coming up with interesting but educational activities is something that I have always admired.

I don’t know if I could ever be an educator. They work long hours and often do more than what is expected of them, but it is also a very rewarding occupation, where they can have such a huge impact on a child and within our communities. My husband mentioned that his school’s career day was coming up and I let him know that I could volunteer if they were short on presenters. It wasn’t the first time I was asked to participate in a similar activity as one of my former college professors had sometimes asked me to join her classes to talk to her students.

This required more practice than I anticipated. I was a little nervous about the whole experience, but it went smoothly, and I am so glad I joined the students at Promenade Elementary in Corona, California.

I shared with the students that Blue Yonder was giving me a volunteer day so that I could come in and talk to them. I explained to them what a support engineer is and showed them some of the typical activities I do every day. I had hoped the presentation excited them but my husband told me later that many of the students wrote that being a support engineer seemed like the most stressful occupation they learned about that day – even more stressful than the electrician!

I wanted the students to be excited to meet a female engineer. Although STEM careers have historically been male-driven, I have always felt embraced and accepted by my male peers. I am proud of where I am and what I do, and I wanted the students to know that if they work hard, they can do amazing things.

My husband encouraged me to talk about some of the challenges I faced. I shared how I attended a private university in Mexico, Universidad de Monterrey, and how hard it was to pay for tuition while working and maintaining a scholarship, but I made it through with hard work, dedication, and support from family.

Throughout the day, I rotated to different classrooms ranging from 3rd through 5th grade. I was impressed by how the students came up with questions I had never even thought of! They wanted to know what things I wish I had known before choosing a career, typical work hours, and how much we get paid.

That day, I had a 4th grade student ambassador named Aria, who was a part of the school’s Student Leader initiative, to take me to each of the classes and around campus. We also got some time to chat along the way. I still remember being her age, although many things have changed since I was 10. For starters, all my formal education was in Mexico, and in Spanish, so there are some things about the U.S. education system that I only know because of my husband. It was refreshing to see my student ambassador be so diligent, educated, and graceful. Later that day, I learned that she too had been practicing her speaking abilities and had worked with the school counselor on conversational practices to keep me engaged in conversation.

Oscar and I always try our best to support his students, so I am grateful that Blue Yonder grants us volunteer days to spend time supporting our communities. After my career day experience, I am more in awe of what public school teachers and staff do every day, and I am also excited to see what my husband’s students will be doing in the future.

Blue Yonder offers two Volunteer Days annually, and associates are encouraged to utilize these days to support meaningful causes of their choice.