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Cynthia Jaime: Student Shows High Schoolers the Ropes at Port of Los Angeles



Cynthia Jaime, senior, mathematics, directs the high school internship program at the Port of Los Angeles; photo by
Joanie Harmon

Cynthia Jaime: Student Shows High Schoolers the Ropes at Port of Los Angeles

As the coordinator of the high school intern program at the Port of Los Angeles, Cynthia Jaime's internship is unique in that she is not just learning the business of international trade and shipping, the CSU Dominguez Hills senior also has an opportunity to share her formula for a successful college career with students not much younger than she.

“Since I am closer to their age, I really relate to them,” says the alumna of Leuzinger High in Lawndale, Ca. “I do know what it was like to be a high school student. But I know that it is important to have responsibility and to work hard in your classes as well as any other activities you’re involved in. If you stick with that, it will help you succeed in the future.”

Administered by the International Trade Education Program (ITEP), the port’s high school internships provide students at Phineas Banning High School in Wilmington with on-the-job experience. One of Jaime’s responsibilities at the port is recruiting companies and agencies for participation in the intern program. Participating companies include Conoco Phillips, Matson Navigation Company, Maersk Line, the U.S. Coast Guard, Union Pacific Railroad, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Watson Land Company. She also supports the interns in their academic needs, giving workshops on resume writing and interviews, SAT preparation in math and English. Jaime, a senior majoring in mathematics, values the chance to hone her teaching skills.

“I’m a teacher and a mentor,” she says. “They’ll come to me and I’ll give them advice for college. My students are preparing themselves to go to college because that is the focus of this program. About 80 percent go on to college. Some of them are pursuing degrees in business and others want to work within the international trade.”

Jaime, who herself was a high school intern at Northrop Grumman, says that internships are invaluable for students.

“One of the benefits is that they gain leadership and experience,” she says. “Even though you’re a student worker, making copies or whatever, you learn about your department and what its focus is. If you’re working for the engineering department, you get to learn about how the blueprints are done for different buildings or projects.”

Jaime also offers tips to her charges on how to get the most out of the college experience -- advice she lives by herself.

“I tell them to stick with their classes and always pass them, trying to work as hard as they can,” she says. “Even though they’re not into a class that much, it’s good to at least try to get something out of it, whether it’s required or just an easy class. And I let them know that getting involved at school in any organization or club is really important. That’s really what gives you the full experience of college, actually being involved as opposed to just going to your classes and going home.”

Jaime’s involvement on the Dominguez Hills campus includes her membership in Phi Sigma Sigma, a multicultural sorority centered on academic achievement and service. Currently serving as the chapter’s treasurer, Jaime says that she has gained many leadership skills through this affiliation and its participation in service projects such as the AIDS Walk, Habitat for Humanity and the National Kidney Foundation.

“Phi Sigma Sigma is mostly about scholarship and changing the perception of the sorority,” she notes. “It’s not just parties; we’re mostly about academics and becoming a successful woman.”

A former EOP (Educational Opportunity Program) math tutor, Jaime credits her Dominguez Hills education with preparing her with skills for her future career as a teacher and in business.

“One of the things I have to do [at the port] is go out and speak to random people about what I’m doing and why it’s important to recruit companies to get jobs for the interns,” she says. “I used to be really shy and didn’t like public speaking. Now, I don’t have any problems speaking in front of large groups of people and going out to meet new people. I feel that my education has prepared me for the real world.”

- Joanie Harmon

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Last updated Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 2:58 p.m., by Joanie Harmon