Life after high school

Feb. 28, 2013 @ 07:22 PM

Students at Henderson and Eaton-Johnson middle schools have taken part in a state-initiated project designed to expose them to careers and businesses.

Through the Students at Work Project, dozens of business leaders from Vance County were welcomed into the middle schools, giving kids perspective on their profession.

On Thursday, students at Henderson Middle heard from Nancy Wilson, executive director of Vance County Tourism Department, and Shirley Lewis, 12th grade guidance counselor at Southern Vance High School.

“This is something we needed,” said Mcshell Edmonds, team leader for exploratory teachers at Henderson Middle. “It gets them thinking about college and what they want to do when they’re older.”

Lewis shared the amount of options available for students after graduating high school.

“College is not for everyone,” Lewis said. “You’ve got military, you can go to work, there’s so many things out there you can do without getting in trouble.”

As students raised their hands, sharing their individual career aspirations, professions varied from doctors to lawyers to hairstylists, truck drivers and mechanics.

Lewis informed them of the amount and type of schooling different careers require, with some professions needing nearly eight years of schooling to earn a degree, and others taking as few as six months to two years.

Also stressed by Lewis was the importance of getting focused on grades upon entering high school. She explained the meaning of grade point average, and the functions of a transcript, both vital to gaining college entrance.

“Your grades decide what college you’re going to,” Lewis said. “If you don’t have a 2.5, they won’t even look at you.”
Wilson, who spoke prior to Lewis, shared the many aspects of her profession, one that she described as, “fun and positive.”

She shared various marketing strategies used to drive tourism in Vance County, explaining the economic impact visitors create.

According to Wilson, between 1.2 and 1.4 million people visit Kerr Lake each year, bringing nearly $40 million dollars to the county annually.

Student interest was captured as Wilson began sharing her background knowledge on racing, the automotive industry, and classic cars, insight she uses for recruiting guests to Henderson’s annual Show, Shine, Shag and Dine Festival.

“I was a drag racer,” Wilson said. “I started when I was a young adult. It helps me with contacting people we invite here.”

Willa Clark, director of career and technical education programs in Vance County Schools, says the Students at Work Project is a way to expose students to the highly accessible careers of tomorrow.

“We’re trying to focus on careers that we know are going to be projected for the next 10 years.”

Other guest speakers this week included Cindy Faulkner, chief nursing officer at Maria Parham Medical Center; Jessica Smith, a Henderson police officer; and James Ragland, a Henderson police detective.

Lewis encouraged students to look at the area they live in when determining what type of jobs are needed.

“The most demanded job in Vance County is health care,” Lewis said. “But, in Wake County it’s a computer engineer.”

Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com.