Two Quad-City area's business leaders shared their career paths Monday during a youth council meeting at Western Illinois University-Quad-Cities in Moline.
State Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia, sponsored the gathering, which involved dozens of high school students from throughout the 36th Senate District.
Pryce Boeye, president and CEO of the Hungry Hobo restaurants, reviewed his experiences as an example of how ideas can change. He recalled his path from being a political intern in Washington, D.C., to his days of working at Procter and Gamble, marketing laundry detergents and toothbrushes.
He also told the students about working at a PepsiCo division handling Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell franchises.
Today, Hungry Hobo is celebrating its 45th anniversary, he said.
"We have 13 company-owned franchises, six in Illinois and seven in Iowa," he said.
"What's important for all of you to know now is just how important it is to pay attention in class to be prepared for opportunities that present themselves to you later on," Boeye said.
Paul Rumler, president and CEO of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce, also talked of taking a career path that eventually led him back to the Quad-Cities.
He graduated from Moline High School in 1997, followed by Black Hawk College in Moline, but then took an internship in New York, became a legislative aide in Boston and later had an internship in Washington, D.C., but never forgot wanting to contribute to the Quad-Cities' community.
Rumler came back to the area, waged a losing campaign for state senate and then joined the chamber.
Three years ago, he went went to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to lead its chamber but six months later was recruited back to the Quad-Cities' top job.
The chamber today has 1,700 member businesses, Rumler said.
Rumler and Boeye answered questions from the students, including one from United Township High School senior Brenna Hoskins, 18, about being able to live on minimum wage income.
Also asking a question was Moline High School junior Grant Jacobs, who wondered what legislators can do to make Illinois more relevant and appealing to businesses.
Afterward, Grant said he was "totally 'nerding' out," because he loves everything political, ever since he was in the sixth grade when he learned "politics is my passion."
Students also heard presentations from Deere & Co. communications manager, Lori Bippus' and Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms.
Participating Illinois schools were United Township High School, Moline High School, Rockridge High School, Fulton High School, Erie High School, Riverdale High School, East Moline Christian School, Quad-Cities Christian School, Rock Falls Township High School and Newman Central Catholic High School in Sterling.
Students chose the issue of reinstating the death penalty debate to bring back for a mock legislative session when legislators return to session with their young friends in the spring.
The mock government exercise will take place in the spring during a session day in Springfield. The actual date hasn't been determined. All the students who attended Monday will be invited to that day as well.
"I look forward to this," Anderson said. "They are very bright kids. Getting their feedback and hearing what's in their mind is really beneficial for me to hear. They are our future."