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Even though I didn’t understand the entire Pathways program, I understood that it was going to help me—someone with a criminal record, an African-American man—get into a meaningful career. That sold me.

John Marshall

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and instructor

At first, facing a career choice can feel like being in an ocean. You don’t know which way you should go—and the Pathways give you a compass to show you the right direction, an extra paddle to get there faster.

Even though I didn’t understand the entire Pathways program, I understood that it was going to help me—someone with a criminal record, an African-American man—get into a meaningful career. That sold me.

I was born and raised here in Oakland and was in the foster system from age 2. I did some mechanic work, construction, landscaping. Then one of my mentors introduced me to EMS Corps.

When I was a teenager, I got into a little trouble with the law and this created barriers to reaching my goals, but I worked hard, took classes, and eventually got my EMT license.

Soon I started teaching for various programs, including Mentoring in Medicine & Science. I helped design a first-responder program for ninth grade students of color at Oakland Tech and expanded that into one of the alternative schools. I’ve trained students in several Pathways programs, including HEAL and Health Coach, and I’ve certified over 250 people in CPR

The Pathways give students the ability to figure out what they want to do—and maybe what they don’t want to do. Through that process, you really learn how to be a successful person not only in your career but in your life.