Senior Amgen Scientist Dave Meriage, SCVB&GC Youth of the Year Humberto Andrade, Club Teen Coordinator Jose Saucedo and Amgen Treasury Director Todd Tushla take a break from the Amgen tour staged for Andrade, who at only 14 years old already has firm career plans to be an engineer.

Andrade: SCVB&GC Youth of the Year touches goals on Amgen tour

April 17, 2013
Santa Paula News

He’s the Santa Clara Valley Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year, but Humberto “Beto” Andrade knows what he’ll be doing for many years in the future - especially after the aspiring engineer went on a special tour of Amgen.

Club CEO Jan Marholin and Club Advisory Board Member Connie Tushla accompanied Andrade and Club Teen Coordinator Jose Saucedo on the April 1 Amgen tour. Tushla’s son Todd Tushla is treasury director of Amgen and, said Marholin, “When he heard that Humberto wanted to be either an engineer or a scientist and had never met one in person, he arranged an amazing tour” for the Santa Paula High School freshman, who was on spring break.

The guests got a walking tour of the Newbury Park complex affectionately known as the “City of Amgen,” the biotechnology company’s headquarters since 1980 when it pioneered the development of novel products based on advances in recombinant DNA and molecular biology, and launched the biotechnology industry’s first blockbuster medicines. The company now employs approximately 18,000 people worldwide.

Marholin said, “It was fascinating to see how many buildings were part of the Amgen campus,” including multiple restaurants, a full gym and spa, basketball court, soccer field and onsite childcare that can accommodate 400.  

The visitors were treated to lunch and met Scott Heimlich, senior program officer of the Amgen Foundation, but, noted Marholin, “The real fun for Humberto came when Senior Scientist Dave Meriage had us all put on safety goggles and walked us through real time labs with big machines, magnets and lots of ‘CSI’ type equipment.”

Andrade, who wants to become an engineer either in the mechanical or software industries, said the tour was his first experience with such a high-tech atmosphere. “I was shocked, amazed actually, at how big Amgen is and how much they have there,” ranging from employee amenities to the clean rooms and laboratories.

Said Andrade, “It gave me more focus on pursuing my education now to get a good job later at a place like Amgen.” The 14-year-old is taking classes to prepare him for college: “I’ve been interested in engineering for the past two years,” the result of seeing a documentary on “how things are made... it interested me from the beginning.”

Although she is familiar with Amgen, Connie Tushla said, “I think it was a good learning experience for everyone, including myself. The reason Todd joined Amgen was because they make drugs that help people that otherwise would be suffering. That was important to him.”

She was impressed with Andrade: “Humberto appears to be very mature, older than he is, an obvious leader” with a strong future who so impressed those he met at Amgen that he was given business cards and urged to stay in touch.  

The visit was positive for not only Andrade, said Tushla, but also for The Positive Place for Kids. “If we can bring the club some kind of emphasis” in learning, said Tushla, “we must. We are the poorest club in the county, but the board and Jan are doing a great job... she’s a dynamo.” As is Andrade, who said he looks forward to attending the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Marholin thanked the Tushlas for arranging the Amgen tour that “is keeping Humberto’s dreams alive about what an amazing future he has as a scientist or engineer.... It was a great and inspirational day.”

“I’ve been a Club kid for seven years,” said Andrade, and “it’s helped me very much” in goal setting and living up to his already well defined aspirations. He particularly enjoyed the Club’s robotics activities, but although the program has been discontinued, “I try to attend the club every day.”

And how does it feel to have been selected Youth of the Year? “It was an honor,” said Andrade, “a real honor.”

According to its website, Amgen discovers, develops, manufactures, and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A leader in biotechnology since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science’s promise by bringing safe, effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, bone disease, and other serious illnesses.

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