By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
Choosing a career path can be a lot of pressure for a high school student, but a group of Starkville Academy juniors spent Wednesday observing a profession of their choice for the school’s annual career day.
The students shadowed a professional to get a glimpse of their typical work day. The program was part of a career research project organized by teachers Barb Adkins and Krista Vowell and has been a tradition for 10 years.
“I started it because all juniors are required to write a research paper, but I could see they were getting bored with a regular career-based research paper. This experience really brings it to life,” Adkins said.
The students spent the whole school day with professionals from all over the community, including Mississippi State University and OCH Regional Medical Center. They had to arrange the visit themselves and were required to interview the professionals.
Students Chase McCoy and Tyler Vaughan chose to shadow Blufish Design Studio owner and creative director Melissa Dixon because of their interest in website and graphic design.
Dixon said she hoped to introduce the students to all the different aspects of graphic designing. She brought them to meet with some of Blufish’s clients as well as some of the people with whom the company collaborates with, including the MSU University Relations department.
“I’m just so glad to be able to give them a little peek into what my job is like because I remember in high school that nobody had any idea what they wanted to do because you didn’t even know what jobs were out there,” she said.
Dixon said learning experiences like SA’s Career Day were vital to ensuring students’ preparation for the real world.
“It’s been awesome. I’ve learned a lot — kind of what it takes to get into this, what you need as far as education stuff goes,” McCoy said.
Student Jessica Dennis worked with speech-language pathologists Andrea Carlisle and Laurel Jones at OCH Regional Medical Center.
“I’ve always wanted to work with kids in some way. I’ve always thought about physical therapy, but I thought this would be something that would combine those interests,” Dennis said.
Payton Allen chose to shadow Sudduth Elementary first grade teacher Kristin Shumaker. Allen said she’s always loved kids and was considering teaching as a profession.
“The kids are so sweet and Ms. Shumaker has been really encouraging and showing me how to do everything,” Allen said.
As a first grade teacher, every day is something new for Shumaker, and she was happy to share the experience with an aspiring teacher.
“I’m glad she came because you never know what you want to do until you experience it. Some people have misconceptions about what a teacher does. You’re not just a teacher; you’re a nurse, a mom, just about everything,” Shumaker said.
The students were required to do research on their chosen field before the shadowing experience and present a PowerPoint presentation to their class.
“I hope they get an idea of a real life situation in the career world and they have the opportunity to get first-hand experiences in the career they would like to pursue,” Adkins said. “I want them to see what a real work situation is, the 8-to-5, so to speak, and what goes with it. I really want to thank the professionals in Starkville for helping us out and cooperating with the students.”