Career Pathways speaker back on familiar turf

Quakertown Community School District  |  Posted on

You knew Stephen Vanyo was Quakertown through and through when he shook the hand of George Banas and congratulated the Quakertown Community High School football coach on the Thanksgiving Day victory over Pennridge.

Mr. Vanyo, a 2013 QCHS graduate, is an attorney/NFL agent at the Law Office of Lloyd Z. Remick/Zane Management, Inc. practicing Entertainment, Sports, and Media Law. On Wednesday, he visited his old stomping grounds as speaker in the school’s Career Pathways Speaker Series.

Several teachers were in the audience along with students for Mr. Vanyo’s presentation, and he could barely make it through the school’s hallways as he was stopped and hugged by teachers, aides, and cafeteria workers who wanted to catch up with him.

“He embodies the word community,” said Kurt Amen, a teacher who played in a local band with Mr. Vanyo. “For a lawyer who lives in Philadelphia, it shows that he appreciates what’s been given to him and he wants to give it back.”

A member of the National Honor Society, Marching Band, and Jazz Band during his days as a Panther, Mr. Vanyo let students know “I sat where you sat. I went to the same Wawa you go to. I played in this auditorium.”

The Speaker Series incorporates a variety of career options for students with Academic Pathways that include Arts and Humanities, Business, Marketing and Finance, STEM and Computer Science. Pathways Coordinators Laura Neilson, a world language teacher, and Mr. Banas, who teaches Project Lead The Way pre-engineering courses, filled the schedule with educators, health care providers, and emergency service technicians for the first part of the year. In 2023, students will hear from leaders in business, marketing, finance, computer science, military, and the arts and humanities.

Mr. Vanyo, who graduated from Loyola University and the Temple University Beasley School of Law, spoke about his typical day and said “You have so many more things at your disposal with the internet. Be careful with social media and what you post, but you don’t have to be devoid of personality. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Shoot your shot.

“I really enjoy what I do. Try to love what you do. When you have a passion for something it makes life so much easier.”

He let students know it’s okay to pivot to another career if they believed it would make them happy. He even said he got his current job from a cold email. “The worst thing that can happen is people say no or contact me in a year. For every no you get, you’re one step closer to success.”

Ms. Neilsen appreciated that advice. “Don’t be afraid to pivot. It’s okay to not know what you want to do. Find something and keep trying.”

That’s what stuck with Zach Polek, a junior who videotaped the event for the school. “Right now I’m dead set on a music career. But he said it’s okay to break away from that. That was eye-opening.”

Mr. Vanyo said he still speaks with many of his high school friends and described the district as “a great institution. I enjoy coming back and doing my little part to help. You have great teachers here. Take advantage of the opportunity.”