The expression "the world is your oyster" implies that with ability and hard work, the possibilities are unlimited. For a young Los Banos man, who was given this advice many years ago, preparation and hard work have led to opportunity that takes him to the far reaches of the earth.
In 1998, Aron Whitehurst graduated from Los Banos High School. He didn't take the traditional path to college, however. Whitehurst acknowledges a less than stellar academic performance in high school. During his senior year, he had to scramble to earn enough credits to graduate. Teacher Nick Nahas was credited with recognizing Whitehurst's abilities and inspiring him to reach his goal.
After graduation, Whitehurst tells of being aimless for a while with no career goal in mind. He worked as a pizza delivery person and a tomato packing shed worker. He was adrift.
Whitehurst's grandfather, a World War II fighter pilot and family patriarch, recognized his ability and advised him as a teenager to prepare for a career in business. With the right preparation, the grandfather advised, "The world would be your oyster."
Eventually, Whitehurst was on his way. He earned an associate degree from Merced College and then enrolled at California State University, Stanislaus, where he majored in general business and finance.
Between his junior and senior year, Whitehurst accepted a summer internship with Gallo. Success as an intern led to an offer of employment with Gallo after graduation. Whitehurst noted that the internship structure allows a person to prove himself and "levels the playing field" for students who don't graduate from more prestigious colleges.
While employed by Gallo, he worked with supply-chain management and developed a database ensuring efficient distribution of the company's products. He gives the corporation high marks for efficient management and a positive work environment.
Following his valuable work experience with Gallo, along with a high score earned on the business school admissions test, Whitehurst was admitted to UCLA's Anderson School of Business to work on a master of business administration degree. He was awarded a merit-based fellowship to help fund his college expenses.
Between his first and second year at the business school, he was offered an internship by Mattel Corp., the giant toy manufacturer. During this 10-week program, Whitehurst exhibited the talent and work ethic sought by Mattel. He was offered employment after the completion of his MBA program.
In July, Whitehurst began his employment with Mattel. He built a logic-based computer spreadsheet program to promote the efficient storage and distribution of Mattel's products around the world. Recent work took him to Mattel factories in Malaysia, Thailand and Mexico, where he learned much about the company's manufacturing process and gained insight into ways of improving the company's operations.
Whitehurst has high praise for Mattel's very positive corporate culture for its employees. He said the company is rated as one of the best companies in America to work for and values its workers highly. Along with job performance, the company encourages its employees to have a good personal and family life.
Whitehurst is married and lives in Hermosa Beach with his wife and small child.
For Whitehurst, a nurturing public school system, strong family support and his grandfather's sage advice have provided the opportunity to succeed. Now it seems that the whole world has become his oyster.
Jim Arkfeld, of Los Banos, is a retired teacher.