Career symposium opens doors for high school students
It was a morning for students to focus on their futures.
In just three and a half hours, doors to many careers were opened as the North Hills School District hosted a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Career Symposium.
High school juniors from the Avonworth, Cornell, Montour, Moon Area, Quaker Valley and West Allegheny school districts joined North Hills juniors and seniors Jan. 30 for presentations from professionals engaged in what many now call STEM careers. Some presenters were North Hills graduates.
The keynote speaker was Joy Ruff, community outreach manager for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, which promotes natural-gas production. Students from six other school districts also were connected remotely for her talk and other sessions held in the senior high auditorium.
Students made the rounds elsewhere in the school to hear from those working in engineering, molecular biology, technology systems, atomic power and various trades, among others.
They heard summaries of the day-to-day basics and the excitement of the varied work-a-day worlds. But most importantly, the teens learned what it might take for them to join those professional ranks one day.
This was the first in a series of seminars to be offered to local students this year. The others will be hosted by various school districts and will focus on health care; arts and communication; and business, government and law. These are categories that parallel North Hills' new structure of academies for its high school students.
David Barkovich, North Hills Senior High dean of students and guidance counselor, took the lead in putting the symposium together. In the company of administrators, faculty and staff in the district and members from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, “400 students had a firsthand interaction with professionals in the STEM field, got to network and understand that they need to begin to plan now,” Barkovich said.
“Real life is right around the corner.”
Matthew Esch and Kyle Gricks, 18-year-old North Hills seniors from Ross Township, both plan to study nuclear or mechanical engineering at Penn State University.
“I have a passion for math and science,” Esch said. “It all comes together in engineering.”
Gricks attended the Westinghouse Science Honors Institute last year. It was an opportunity that fueled his interests in energy even more.
“I liked the energy portion,” he said about a presentation dealing with nuclear energy. “It's clean energy, and it is the future.”
Yet even with the talk about what the students might want to be when they get older, college requirements and possibilities of large salaries, many speakers told the teens to start their career quests by deciding what they like to do.
“You must enjoy it, believe in what you're doing and show initiative,' said Cory Stansbury, who spoke about his work with nuclear power plants at Westinghouse Electric Co. and found his audiences to be “attentive and engaged.”
And he cautioned: “Don't force yourself to go to school. There's nothing wrong with the trades.”
Dylan Redzanic, 17, of Leetsdale and a junior at Quaker Valley High School, already has been exploring his career options. While taking building-trade classes sponsored by The Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania, he also has earned his emergency-medical-technician certification.
During the symposium, the teen also learned about the application process for the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
“It was interesting in some fields, but I'm not big with computers,” he said about the symposium.
Treshele Bronaugh, 17, a Quaker Valley junior from Fair Oaks, attended the event “to get a feel for all careers. It was interesting,” she said.
She said plans to become a veterinary technician because she always has enjoyed animals.
“STEM and the ancillary careers are a high-need area in Pennsylvania,” said Barkovich, 37, of Ross Township.
“The business representatives were eager to talk about deficits in employment. They don't have enough qualified individuals.”
This made his task a bit easier as he gathered names and contact information beginning in May. Barkovich, who has been with the North Hills School District for 11 years, started with the business community in Ross Township and West View and searched his own network of professionals, he said.
Pittsburgh's “rich background in the area of science and technology” was his most valuable source, he said.
And just as he had hoped, student surveys suggested that for many, the symposium had opened up new ways of thinking and reinforced thoughts already in mind.
“I'm interested in a STEM career,” said Madison McGonigal, 16, a North Hills junior from Ross Township. “I'm good in science. I'm taking two AP (Advanced Placement) sciences this year.”
Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.