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Top of the class - Odessa American: OA Varsity

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Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 12:00 am

Many graduates of the 1989 Permian High School class still live in Odessa. Others, however, are spread across the country and the globe.

      As a diamond mine owner, Brigitte Vandeventer-Potgieter stumbled “accidentally” into her career after she met her husband Brad, who is from South Africa. Vandeventer-Potgieter eventually moved to South Africa in 1994 to join him.

 “He believed I made such sacrifices moving to another country – leaving my family, friends, essentially my existing life – that he decided to buy me my own ranch in South Africa that ‘as luck would have it’ has diamond-bearing gravel on it,” she said. 

 Since then, Vandeventer-Potgieter has been working with her husband on the diamonds.

 “I did study courses in Johannesburg to be able to learn about the

diamonds and qualified to be a licensed diamond dealer of rough diamonds,” she said. “I then decided to take it a step further and start

polishing and selling them loose or I set them up in jewelry that I

design myself.”

 Vandeventer-Potgieter isn’t the only star of the class of 1989 who “fell” into their career. For Pamela Parker, an advertising job came after working in the entertainment industry for eight years, working for shows on ABC and Fox. 

 “All in all, it was an absolutely incredible experience, but the threat of a writers’ strike and the onset of reality TV left many writers out of work, and I made the decision to go to graduate school,” Parker said.

After graduate school in Florida, Parker had a stint teaching college English before moving to Dallas to work at the Slingshot advertising agency. That job segued her into a position at imc2, an interactive agency.

Now the former Pepette is an associate creative director at imc2 and has clients like Pizza Hut.

“It’s pretty awesome working here. We can bring our dogs to work, so my 11-month-old puppy, Sadie, comes to work with me every day,” Parker said. “Plus, I can wear jeans and flip-flops pretty much every day, which just rocks.”

While Parker plays it casual at her job, Eric Burke steps in front of the cameras each day in a suit and tie, working as a reporter for Fox News in Kansas City, Mo.

“I am extremely shy and extremely nervous when it comes to a group of people, but you can put me in front of a camera in front of thousands of people, and I’ve got no problem,” Burke said. “As soon as I start talking to the camera I start feeling like I’m talking to one person at home.”

Burke started out working at KMID News behind the scenes and worked his way up to a full-time reporter.

“I didn’t know I wanted to be a journalist until I got that part-time job at Big 2,” he said. “I got bit by the journalism bug.  I was lucky to get a start in the business.”

That job at KMID later helped him land the job at Fox News when a former colleague tipped him off to a job opening there, where he has been for seven years. Burke said the best part of the job is witnessing a story as it’s

happening.

 

“I love breaking news. I love rolling up to the scene and not knowing what’s going on and trying to figure it out in a short time,” he said. “Just tell the story, that’s always what I say.”

But no matter how far their careers have taken them, all three acknowledge the importance of graduating from Permian.

“Permian created that solid concrete foundation for me to take on the real world,” Vandeventer-Potgieter said. “I appreciate it immensely and will not forget where I’ve come from.”

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