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Santa Barbara Partners in Education Awards Breakfast Honors Local Students

Hundreds of business and community leaders gather for the 33rd annual event to recognize internship program participants

Dozens of students were honored Thursday at the 33rd annual Santa Barbara Partners in Education Student Awards Breakfast, where hundreds of local business owners and community members packed a ballroom to cheer them on.

More than 400 people showed up at the Bacara Resort & Spa on Thursday morning to watch the awards and share breakfast together.

The awards were given to students who had completed internships in areas such as business and finance, health care and science, specialized technology and design, and education and nonprofit fields.

Outgoing board president Steve Ainsley said the organization experienced record participation in its internship program this year.

Students who participate hone their interview skills, learn about the employment process and learn on-the-job skills with participating local businesses, which sometimes offer students employment even after the program ends.

Michelle Magnusson, the organization's executive director, made her first appearance since beginning maternity leave to care for her 2-month-old son, Seth. Someday, Seth will be the one touring their offices, she told the students awarded.

The interns went through seven weeks of training and 80 hours at their work sites, she said, and since many are on the cusp of graduating from high school, "you're making lots of decisions about your future. What I want you to know is that everyone in this room is behind you."

Program manager Chelsea Duffy presented the awards, along several others, including Ron Werft, president of Cottage Health System, Lori Gaskin, president of Santa Barbara City College and Doug Ford, president of D.D. Ford Construction.

Also presenting was Erika Terrazas, a former Community West Bank intern with the program and a Santa Barbara High alumna.

Terrazas said she considers herself a success story from the program, and is pursuing her college degree.

Though she's not the president of a bank yet, "when I am, I will make sure to mentor people the same way I was mentored," she said.

Two videos were shown, showcasing interns Henry Almengor, a Santa Barbara High student who worked at Pacific Western Bank, and Kianna Silva, a San Marcos High student who worked at Ayers Automotive.

Almengor's internship went so well he was eventually offered a job at the bank, and Silva, the only female in teacher Russell Granger's advanced automotive class, said she gained a vision for what she wants to do career-wise.

Ford encouraged the students to follow their dreams, no matter their area of interest.

"Follow that spark," he said. "It will set you apart from the rest of the pack."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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