The following was originally published in The Sun Community News.

ESSEX | Scientists, financial directors and other employees of the Colgate-Palmolive Company took time off work this month to recount their path to success to 1,100 middle and high school students in 10 states — including 380 students in the North Country — encouraging them to explore their interests and be open to possibilities as they begin to think about their future careers.

The virtual classroom visits were arranged by CFES Brilliant Pathways as part of the corporation’s Colgate Cares Day, an annual community service event where employees dedicate time during their workday to give back to their community through volunteer opportunities.

Five North Country school districts participated in Colgate Cares Day, including AuSable, Beekmantown, Crown Point, Moriah and Plattsburgh.

Twenty Colgate employees told students that they do not need to focus on one single job or one single career path. They were encouraged to explore what interests them, and to listen to the ideas and experiences of others.

Speaking to a classroom of students at Mulberry Middle School in Florida, Stephanie Jensen, a consumer researcher at Colgate, said her career path has taken her around the world and landed her in many interesting situations. She said she has worked picking strawberries, at a veterinary clinic, in a neuroscience lab and in a Japanese classroom teaching English. “Jobs are not just one thing, and believe me, these skills do transfer,” she said.

Stephen Lee, a corporate financial advisor at Colgate, said his path has included selling women’s shoes, and jobs at Taco Bell, Walmart, Pepsi and ADP. Career paths, Lee said, are a “lifetime endeavor” and that “how you grow over time helps you become who you are.”

Many stories involved overcoming obstacles and identifying goals such as building communities and contributing to human welfare.

Harsh Trivedi told 5th and 6th graders at AuSable Valley Central School that he came from India and arrived in America by way of Kenya. Trivedi said his position at Colgate as a researcher has allowed him to develop products that benefit people, and that one of his devices went to space with an astronaut.

The day was enjoyed equally by students and the Colgate volunteers. “It was an honor to share my story with students and continue the open dialogue started by the CFES Brilliant Pathway program,” said Fatima Saravia, a research scientist at Colgate. “Nobody’s journey will be the same, but there is tremendous value in sharing our experiences.”

CFES Brilliant Pathways’ President Rick Dalton said the program “is an eye-opening opportunity. What the students see is how many different pathways there are to success.”