About 60 working people with jobs ranging from wildlife biologist to chef spoke to Bradwell Institute students during Friday’s career expo about their careers and how they chose their professional paths.
“This is our fourth year having the expo,” said guidance counselor Brandi Helton, who organized the event. “All 1,700 students will get to experience four different careers today.”
Students turned in applications ranking their career preferences last week, and on Friday broke into groups for sessions with presenters who were assigned to various classrooms.
“Our mission here is to promote college and career readiness,” Helton said. By exposing students to a diversity of careers, they are helping to promote that mission, she said.
Students sat in rapt attention as Fort Stewart wildlife biologist Dee Mincey talked about his profession and some of the animals he studies and works to protect. Mincey brought several live specimens with him to class, including a small reptile.
“This area harbors a lot of native species you don’t find anywhere else,” he said. The wildlife biologist told students that Fort Stewart’s vast range is home to a number of endangered species including the wood stork, the frosted flatwoods salamander and the red-cockaded woodpecker.
Mincey said the frosted flatwoods salamander is difficult to find, particularly after Georgia’s “decade of drought.” But, there’s hope that after the heavy rainfall of the past year these animals will be easier to locate, he said.
The wildlife biologist said he initially planned to become an orthopedic surgeon but decided to redirect his studies after taking two years of college biology and physiology classes. His specialty is ornithology, the study of birds.
Nino Bassaro, head chef at Club Stewart, said his career combines artistry with business.
Bassaro said he returned to the culinary side of the restaurant and catering business after climbing the management ladder. He rose from being an assistant restaurant manager to general manager to regional manager with Ruby Tuesday’s years ago, he said. Bassaro told students he also worked for Boston Market after college, where he learned basic business and cooking principles. He also worked for a private golf club in Pennsylvania, Bassaro said.
Entry-level chefs right out of culinary school typically earn $25,000-30,000 a year, working 55-60 hours a week, he said. The downfall of the restaurant industry is that restaurant employees work everyone else’s holidays, the chef said. Salaries can increase to $55,000 a year and higher once a chef becomes a certified executive chef who trains others to become chefs, Bassaro said.
Learning what it takes to become a teacher also was part of the expo agenda.
“Teachers have more homework than students do,” said Tracey Moyse, Frank Long Elementary School’s teacher of the year.
Moyse told the high-school students that a teacher does not end his or her day at 2:35 p.m.
“Teachers don’t go home right after the bell,” she said.
A teacher can easily put in four hours more after school lets out, Moyse said. Teachers have paperwork and grading to do, and spend time communicating with parents.
Moyse, a fifth-grade teacher, recognized some of the high-school students at the expo as her former elementary-school students. She is in her 25th year of teaching.
“I want to open up these kids’ eyes that a career in education is going to have its positives and its negatives,” she said.
Moyse earned a bachelor’s degree at Florida State University, her Georgia Teaching Certificate at Armstrong Atlantic State University, and her master’s degree in instruction technology at Cambridge College.
The veteran teacher informed students of the steps they need to take to become educators, from college experience to the testing and certification process.
“Let’s see a show of hands,” Moyse asked one group. “I want to know if you are really interested in a career in education, or if you’re here because you needed to sign up for something.”
Most students raised their hands.
EMTs Shane White and Alex Mason with Liberty Regional EMS told students the levels of EMT training and personality characteristics and skills that would serve a prospective EMT well.
White said EMTs have to make quick decisions and must be able to accurately relay information to hospital staff when en route with patients to the emergency room. He said EMTs must have strong math skills because they administer medications. White added being fluent in a second language also serves an EMT well, as some patients may not speak English.
Hinesville novelist Tamara Frazier and Bradwell’s girls basketball coach Faye Baker spoke about creative writing. Baker is the subject of Frazier’s book, “In His Own Time.”
Baker suffered severe neck and spinal-cord injuries in a vehicle accident 13 years ago. After surgery, rehabilitation and her own fierce determination to persevere, she regained strength and some use of her legs. One doctor’s initial diagnosis of her injuries was that she would never walk again.
Frazier gave students
a mini-creative-writing assignment. She asked them to answer the open-ended question, “What the world needs is…”
Students responded with a variety of answers. One group wrote the world needs more “Jesus” and another student wrote people should be more accepting of those who are different.