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Job-shadow program takes Baldwin students into the real world

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 9:06 p.m.

Several Baldwin High School students handed a dozen people from 10 countries American flags on Feb. 1, as those individuals became U.S. citizens.

The students learned that the ceremony is part of a day in the life of a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration official.

“You can't hate your job if you work there,” said junior Nigel Armbruster, who visited the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services last week. “Every single one of those files is a real person.”

Baldwin High School sent 57 students to job shadow at companies and government agencies throughout Pittsburgh on Friday through Junior Achievement, an organization that works with young people to help prepare them for a career.

Some of the jobs were at Bayer Corp., the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, Pittsburgh Community Television, the U.S. Department of the Interior, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center St. Margaret and Passavant, and Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O'Connor's office, said Debbie Reynolds, gifted coordinator at Baldwin High School.

Four more students will job shadow in the University of Pittsburgh's human-engineering department on Feb. 8.

“I think it just gives kids some exposure to more opportunities,” Reynolds said.

Students who participated in the job shadowing are in the gifted, English as a Second language and English-language-learner programs, Reynolds said. This is the second year for the job-shadow program.

The students said the people they shadowed talked to them about the education required for each career. They also encouraged the students to do something that they love and to prepare to be flexible when looking for jobs.

Junior Logan Lutz spent the day at the Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining. He learned how engineering is used to restore old mines and map and log more than 5,000 of them into a database.

“(A job) can be fun, too, if you do something that you enjoy,” he said.

Freshman Carly Lutz shadowed a pharmacist at UPMC St. Margaret hospital near Aspinwall.

“I got to see what she did every day,” she said. “I think it's challenging.”

Senior Jake Gruber spent the day with Pittsburgh Councilman Corey O'Connor, a Democrat who represents District 5. Gruber will attend Robert Morris University in the fall and plans to major in management before attending law school, he said.

It was helpful for Gruber, who has an interest in national politics, to see how it works at the local level, he said.

O'Connor took Gruber on a tour of the Mario Lemieux Foundation's office; and to Tree of Life Synagogue, where O'Connor gave a speech, along with Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl; and finally, he took Gruber to his office to spend time with O'Connor's staff.

“I got a great insight into the life of a politician,” Gruber said. “You go to something, you do your piece, you shake everybody's hand and then you get out of there ... It made it a little more realistic. I could see what it was like.”

For Armbruster, who is interested in international relations, watching people become U.S. citizens and take an oath of loyalty to the country was just one aspect of creating a more connected world.

“It was a very revealing process,” he said. “You have to explore and accept before you can understand.”

Laura Van Wert is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5814 or at lvanwert@tribweb.com.

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