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The City Journals

Career day sparks interest in students

May 17, 2018 03:56PM ● By Julie Slama

Fourth-graders learn about testing for epilepsy from career day speaker Tristan Underwood. (Keri Hohnholt/Liberty Elementary)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Liberty fourth-grader Oliver Munoz learned about what epilepsy was and about testing for it through a session at his school’s college and career day.

“Ms. Underwood taught us all about epilepsy and how she’s trying to help people with it,” he said. “We got to try some of the testing she does, but with raspberry lemonade instead of the actual medicine.” 

As part of Liberty Elementary’s first college and career day, Tristan Underwood was one of about a dozen speakers who came to the school to tell students about their careers, the schooling needed for it and to expose students to opportunities in fields they may be unfamiliar with, said Keri Hohnholt, Liberty Title I coordinator. 

“We want them to be able to visualize their future and whether its college, technical training or another path, we want them to see what opportunities are there,” she said. “We have a lot of students here who can be first generation college students so we want to help them understand what is needed to navigate the system.”

Many of the professions were in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, like Underwood, who is a research scientist. Other STEM careers included nursing, paramedics, dentistry, physician, environmental sociology and biomechanical engineering while stained glass artist, pizza store owner, real estate agent, graphic designer, product designer and police officer rounded out the field.

Several of the speakers brought equipment they use, such as a stethoscope or handcuffs, or gave students skills they needed, such as being a self-starter in real estate or learning how social media can help in the graphic design field, Hohnholt said.

Fourth-grader Abby Rose said she appreciated the physician’s session.

“I learned there are different types of doctors and nurses and there are some who try to make kids comfortable in scary situations like at the hospital,” she said. “I like working with kids so that would be something I might want to do.” 

Her classmate, Bethany Adua, already was looking forward to the next college and career day.

“College is expected for me, and I want to go, but I want to be an actress and be in the movies,” she said. “It would be great if we could have an actor come to our school next year.” 

Students also were interested in careers ranging from a baker to a car racer.

The college and career preparation didn’t just end with several sessions, teachers had students familiarize themselves with vocabulary, such as the term bachelor’s degree, displays on the wall showcased possible paths to achieve careers and librarian Judy Hagler read to students about other careers. 

“We read about careers and people such as Wilma Rudolph, who had polio as a child yet ended up being the first person in her family to go to college and the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics,” Hagler said. “We learned about Weird Al Yankovic who wanted to become a scientist in third grade, but instead became an American singer and songwriter. We read about ice cream shop owners and video game designers and veterinarians. We wanted to reinforce exposing students to new careers.”

Parent Amber Robison appreciated the experience not only for her student, but for all schoolchildren. 

“At home, we talked about how you can get a doctorate degree, and I realized we had never really talked about it before,” she said. “All the kids seemed so excited about the day. We talked about the speakers and careers for hours, and I’m so glad that this sparked the conversation for them to look to their future.”