Event Attendees Inspire Students From Los Angeles’ Underserved Areas

A Sponsored Message from Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board

Author: Curt Wagner       

LACC Career Academy

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti walks through the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) with high school students participating in the LACC Career Academy at the GSMA Mobile World Congress 21. (Photos courtesy LA Tourism)

When the GSMA Mobile World Congress 21 met in late October at the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC), 10 inner-city high-school students joined the more than 4,000 attendees for a day they aren’t likely to forget.

The students took part in the inaugural LACC Career Academy, a new program created by the L.A. City Tourism Department and launched in partnership with the LA Convention Center (LACC) and LA Tourism. The program aims to expose students in historically underserved areas to professionals working in a variety of industries, inspiring them to consider diverse, dynamic career paths they may not have thought about in the past.

“One of Los Angeles’ greatest strengths is the diversity of our community,” said Darren Green, chief sales officer of the L.A. City Tourism Department. By implementing and incorporating the Career Academy, meeting planners can address both a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative along with addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives as well.

“The LACC Career Academy is an innovative option for meeting planners looking to authentically make an impact in our city,” Green said.

LACC Career Academy students

Mayor Eric Garcetti, shown with high school students participating in the LACC Career Academy, is a fan of the program. (Photos courtesy LA Tourism)

How It Works

The program takes advantage of the conventions happening in the city — and the knowledge of attendees at those events, said Doane Liu, executive director of the L.A. City Tourism Department.



The students, many of whom may have never even been in the convention center, will attend the event as if they were participants, given a badge at registration and becoming audience members to hear the keynote speech. Later they will meet with the keynote speaker, walk the expo floor, and hear from exhibitors who have been pre-arranged by the event’s planner, and meet with professionals — possibly attendees of the event — to learn about their careers.

“My ultimate goal was to try to expose inner-city kids who maybe have never thought about various careers to people from these industries who would have inspirational stories,” Liu said.

Liu said response from event organizers, local high schools, and the city government has been overwhelmingly positive. The Los Angeles Auto Show, which took place Nov. 19-28 at LACC, became the second event to host the academy. “We’re going to offer it to any citywide that comes to Los Angeles,” Liu said.

LACC Career Academy GMSA keynote

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti soeaks during the GSMA Mobile World Congress 21.

Los Angeles Mayor Takes Part

GSMA, which represents mobile network operators around the world, was excited about the new program, and agreed to be the first convention to take part. Students from the Ambassador School of Global Leadership, one of the RFK Community Schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District, attended the event. They listened to the keynote speech by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and later met with him. The plan was for a short meeting, but the mayor had something else in mind.

“He likes the program so much that he walked the expo floor with this group of students and took over as tour guide for them,” Liu said.

LACC Career Academy

Participants in the LACC Career Academy were able to walk the expo floor at the GSMA Mobile World Congress 21. (Photos courtesy LA Tourism)

Garcetti, whose Executive Directive No. 27 on Racial Equity in City Government inspired the program, said during the event that walking with the students, he could “just feel their dreams expand.” (See the video below.)

Next up for the students was a lunch-and-learn session with two attendees chosen by GMSA. They were treated to the same meals provided to the convention’s attendees, and met with Stephani Britt, a finance and compliance business partner from GSMA, and Eugina Jordan, vice president of marketing for Parallel Wireless. The two women shared stories from their careers and offered the students advice and encouragement.

“They inspired me to believe in myself and to know that I can achieve anything,” said Malik Lo, one of the seniors who took part.

Inspiring the students — and possibly changing their lives — is exactly the kind of lasting impact on a community that meeting planners and their organizations hope to make. That’s why the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board offer a robust list of CSR initiatives — from custom volunteer programs to event runs with the Skid Row Running Club — for organizations to implement at their events.

For more on these initiatives, visit meetla.com.

LACC Career Academy at the GSMA Mobile World Congress 21