"It's amazing that someone who was sitting in the same chairs that we're sitting in could be so close to our president," said Lerae Clemons, a junior.
"Many people may think the military is just about fighting in wars and just protecting the country, but it actually builds character," junior Torry Walker said.
On Inauguration Day, all eyes were fixed on the Chicagoan who would be sworn in as a president, but some eyes also were focused on another South Side resident, the soldier who was in charge of the presidential platform.
"I had worked under the Bush administration, and because that job transferred over during the inauguration, that's how I got the position," said Major Gregory Canty, a senior White House social aide.
Major Gregory Canty' was one of dozens of participants in the school's career day Friday. Providence-St. Mel's principal, Paul Adams, couldn't quell his glee.
"It was a very proud moment for me," Adams said. "I have a former student who is sharing the platform with the first African-American president. That was a special moment for me."
For the past four years, Major Canty has served as an executive officer in the surgeon general's office and as the senior White House social aide. His road to the White House includes earning a master's degree in business, serving a tour in Bosnia and answering a call to work in the Pentagon after the terrorist attacks of September 11.
Canty credits much of his success to the guidance he received in high school. He's now sharing his experiences to help raise funds for the school.
"These individuals believed in me, which made me want to excel, want to grow and want to do well in school and go to college and succeed and compete and be number one," Canty said.
All of speakers invited for the career day were alumni of the school.