MORGAN HILL, Calif. (KGO) -- Thirty high school students from across the Bay Area are getting to learn about different careers inside Shoe Palace's headquarters in Morgan Hill. San Francisco 49ers' Arik Armstead hosted what's called the Stay Hungry Career Camp.
"People who are successful in life, they didn't do it on their own - they had a community and environment that really shaped and formed them," Arik Armstead said.
Armstead said growing up, his father trained NBA players. His exposure to professional athletes helped create a path he saw as attainable.
"That impact on my life is apparent and you can see how I learned these things from my childhood and so if kids don't have that we have to create that for them - we can't just expect it to happen naturally," Armstead said.
The defensive lineman created the organization Armstead Academic Project with his wife, who is a physician. The goal is to expose students from Sacramento to the Bay Area that there are career pathways worth pursuing.
"Make their education make sense, like why am I learning this, what can I do with it? And that in itself will increase their economic mobility," Mindy Armstead said. "You don't know what you don't know. You can't imagine a job if you've never been there in person."
Students toured Shoe Palace's warehouse, the design department, and the mock store.
Cornelius Sheavert is a student at Jesse Bethel High School in Vallejo.
"At first I really didn't want to go, I didn't think it would be cool but like once I saw everything, I said that's really nice something I would want to do," Sheavert said.
Marcello Morerra is a junior at DeAnza High School in El Sobrante.
"Yeah it was cool, I've never experienced anything like this before," Morerra said.
He's hoping to be a photographer professionally.
"One of the photographers told me it was like their website, they take the pictures of the products and stuff like that - it was cool," Morerra said.
The San Jose-based company Shoe Palace has its own humble beginnings.
Co-owner John Mersho shared that his family started selling shoes in 1993 in a stand at the Berryessa flea market and his family has been able to grow the company into more than 200 stores to date.
"What Shoe Palace is - it's really what the flea market is because that inspired us to treat people well," John Mersho said.
Jason Dooley, who works in the partnerships and licensing department with Shoe Palace, helped coordinate the career camp with the 49ers.
"It's important to me and to ownership because we were those kids, you know - we were into sneakers, we were trying to find outlets to our creativity," Dooley said.
Armstead and those at Shoe Palace hope this career camp is just one of many to come.
"That's our responsibility as individuals of our community and when you're blessed with resources and you know knowledge and these things - you have to share with the next generation," Arik Armstead said.
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