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Career Day sparks interest

| Saturday, May 4, 2013, 12:56 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Propel fifth-graders, from left, Cheyenne Scott, Demonje Rosser and J'Quan Addison talk with Natalie Porta of the VCA Duncan Manor about jobs in the veterinary field.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Propel fifth-graders Jonathan McHenry and Chyanne Howard, with parent volunteer Mara Bordogna, talk to McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko about the city's departments and the services they provide.

Propel McKeesport students are learning about career opportunities available in their local communities and the Greater Pittsburgh area.

With a career fair set up in the Versailles Avenue school's gymnasium on Friday, students browsed tables filled with informational materials and talked with professionals. Waves of fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders came through the gym with questions for every guest.

Corry Sanders, whose three children attend Propel, said he was impressed with student questions and their genuine interest in what each guest had to share.

“A lot of kids are brought up with tunnel vision,” said Sanders, who owns Kool Kutz and Kool Supplies in downtown McKeesport. “There are so many careers out there that kids don't know about that they could really be successful in. College isn't for everybody, but education is. It's all about how you apply yourself.”

The guest list also included Jill Morse and Christy Barowich of Carnegie Library of McKeesport; Steve Hussar and Kimmy Miller of Americorps; Bruce Jacobs, Bill McCall and Renee Doeen of UPMC's Center for Rehab Services; Alexis Rahimzadeh and Natalie Porta of various VCA animal hospitals; Stephanie Kotuby, who served as a guest producer for CNN; Melissa L. Dougherty of Cohen & Grigsby, P.C.; Bryan Brantley of McGuire Woods LLP; Malinda Binek of Alcosan; Akil Holmes of Kennedy Blue Communications; Shawn M. Fertitta of the Pittsburgh Opera; Kathy Zarisnak of the Builder's Guild; teacher Jessica Johnson; Nadeana Cook of FedEx; Lauren M. Flick of Heritage Valley Health Systems; Paula Mullen of the U.S. Army; and Arnold Brown of the U.S. Air Force.

Representing the city of McKeesport were Mayor Michael Cherepko, police Chief Bryan J. Washowich, detective Sgt. Chris Halaszynski and K-9 Officer Ross Weimer.

“It's always nice when you can give children the opportunity to engage in conversation with adults of different professions to expose them to different careers,” Cherepko said. “It was nice to be there as mayor and to have so many kids interested in our police department. It's important for police to be out in the community to form partnerships and relationships with our residents and youth.”

Fifth-grader Chyanne Howard was particularly interested in Weimer's work with K-9 partner Yaro.

“You get to work with a dog all the time and talk to him in different languages,” she said. “It could be something (interesting) to do when I grow up.”

Sixth-graders Keanna McClain, Trinity Cousar and Diamond Travillion said the career fair experience was beneficial as they think about their futures.

“It was nice for all of these people to come around and tell us what they do,” Diamond said.

“Not all of us know what we want to do when we grow up,” Keanna said. “This gives us an opportunity to learn about different things.”

Principal Hampton Conway said Propel McKeesport students start hearing about careers as early as kindergarten.

“The closer students get to career age, we start taking a more in-depth look at the working world and give kids real-life experiences,” Conway said. “The more you expose children to different opportunities, it will help them form ideas about what they want to do.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or

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