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Trying on professions, one at a time

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 6, 2015

 Lakeview High School technology teacher Jolaine Price shows students a 3-D printer used in the high school’s graphic design class.

Lakeview High School technology teacher Jolaine Price shows students a 3-D printer used in the high school’s graphic design class.

Photo by Deb Jacques


ST. CLAIR SHORES — What do you want to be when you grow up?

This seemingly innocuous question for children becomes more and more pressing the older they become, but students at Jefferson Middle School in Lakeview Public Schools got a chance to learn more about careers from the professionals that work them day in and day out with Patriots Explore Professions career day April 1.

Stephanie Dzubak, a seventh-grade teacher at Jefferson, said this is the second year the school has put on such an intensive career day for the eighth-grade students.

“They look forward to this day,” she said. “They’re just starting to think about their future and what they want to do.”

Students got to pick four breakout sessions to attend, each focusing on different careers. When the morning started, there was a mad rush to get to the session that each student wanted most, since each was limited to 20 students at a time.

Presenting speakers included nurses, firefighters, judges, engineers, a Homeland Security agent, a salon owner, a representative from a local credit union and more. They were family and community members, parents, and even friends and contacts made by staff members.

“We have the gamut of a lot of different careers,” Dzubak said.

Susan Willard, a lunch aide at the school and a parent, said the day was a great experience for her daughter, who was in eighth-grade last year.

“This gave her direction for the future,” she said. “She’s like, OK, I know what I’m going to do.”

And a presentation by the Homeland Security special agent made a big impact on her, putting her on the path to study criminal justice, Willard said.

That speaker was Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent David, who asked that his full name not be used to protect his privacy in the community.

He has children in the Lakeview school district and feels it’s important to share different career pathways with students.

“They can get on track, see what’s out there,” he said. “People don’t know about the federal government. It’s definitely attainable.”

Eighth-grade teacher Heather Schulz said the students had been participating in career exploration and aptitude testing for a few years prior to the Patriots Explore Professions career day, which steered students in the direction of careers that they could be excel at, but it wasn’t until they were able to get some grants and corporate funding that they were able to help the students meet with people actually in the careers they had chosen to get more information about.

This year, sponsorships and money from Target, Christian Financial Credit Union, Tim Hortons and the St. Clair Shores Optimist Club helped make the day possible.

Sarah Bowman, an eighth-grade teacher, said surveys given to students after the inaugural event in 2014 helped them prioritize what careers students most wanted to learn about and how they could help the day run smoother.

Judge Joseph Oster of the 40th District Court said he had wanted to be a presenter in 2014, but the event was the same day as the first day of business in the new court building that bears his father’s name. This year, he said, he was excited to be able to share his experiences with students.

“It’s important that kids have a positive view of the legal profession. Everybody will eventually come through our court,” he said, adding that he would also be discussing the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights to give students an overview of the protections afforded by those documents.

“It’s important for them to see a connection between education and a career,” he said. At the same time, though, he hoped they would be open-minded and explore all of their passions before settling on a path.

“It’s kind of good to help people decide what they are interested in,” agreed eighth-grade student Andrew Valente, who said he was interested in learning more about engineering, the fire service and being an electrician.

Simon Mozelewski agreed.

“It’s cool because it lets you know what you’re going to go into and think about,” the eighth-grader said.

And even though Cassie Dolsen said she already has her heart set on being an engineer because that’s what most of her family does, and “we have the brain for it,” she appreciated the chance to learn more about what the work entails.

“I’m just glad we get to go over stuff,” she said.