A road map for career paths

Military and modeling agency are among those at the North Carroll High job fair

March 26, 2006|By LAURA MCCANDLISH | LAURA MCCANDLISH,SUN REPORTER

The No. 1 question North Carroll High School students had for career day presenters: How much money do you make?

There were more probing questions for the speakers, who represented everything from environmental science to robotics to graphic design.

At North Carroll's first school-wide college and career day this past Wednesday, students heard from speakers in more than 70 fields and browsed tables, staffed by representatives from local universities, law enforcement and military branches. While Westminster High School hosts a countywide college fair every October, the North Carroll event provided students with a more personalized experience on their home turf.

Despite what their teachers tell them, students seem to better heed the advice of people working in fields they hope to enter, said Kim Stem, North Carroll's coordinator of small learning communities, who helped plan the event.

She said the fair could especially benefit students who don't think they are college material.

"Many folks don't start out in college," Stem told the presenters. "But there's at least going to be some school or training in there. They shouldn't always say, `School's not for me.' It may be down the road."

The military and law enforcement tables particularly grabbed students' attention. After visiting the Maryland Army National Guard station, freshmen Rachel Newman and Samantha Spencer, both 14, were decked out in Guard T-shirts and loaded up with free patriotic footballs and water bottles.

Do they plan on enlisting someday?

"I don't want to go to Iraq," Newman said. "I can't kill people. But I'd like to go around to schools like them and make presentations to other students."

David Blank, stationed with the Guard in Westminster, fielded questions about the difference between active duty and the reserves, and on benefits, such as college tuition credit programs.

To help students picture themselves as sworn police officers, deputies from the Carroll County Sheriff's Office suited up some brave souls in a chest protector, shin guards, a helmet and riot shield.

The growing population in Carroll only has 1.3 police officers per 1,000 residents, and the sheriff's office hopes to encourage younger students to consider law enforcement.

"That's why we're out here doing this," Lt. Robert Kline said.

Juniors and seniors flocked to the Barbizon modeling agency's table to enter a raffle to win a college scholarship, valued at up to $100,000.

With rising college tuition and interest rates on many federal education loans set to soar this summer, such a large scholarship seemed too good to be true. No essays required.

"Big corporations like Barbizon don't have time to read a lot of essays," said Sonia Amir-Bowie, Miss Maryland in 2000 and a motivational speaker for the agency. "But it's a good PR move. The scholarship isn't just for modeling, fashion or acting, but anything they want to study."

One of perhaps 10,000 students on the East Coast would win the scholarship, Amir-Bowie said.

A popular session on being a chef was scheduled with Gianfranco Marciano of Genova's Restaurant, who had to cancel at the last minute. Instead, culinary-minded students could stop by a table from the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College.

Students were also wooed by high-tech industries, such as robotics and graphic design.

Wayne Beatty, a production manager with General Dynamics Robotic Systems, took students out into the parking lot to demonstrate how a robotic vehicle the size of a Hummer can be programmed, using GPS satellite images, to complete independent tasks at 70 mph.

Regardless of what field they enter, from medicine to the military, robotics will be used, Beatty told students. He said in more traditional fields such as agriculture, a robotic farm worker can now be programmed to pick mushrooms for 24 hours a day.

"Technology is here to stay and ever-growing, with long-term career applications," Beatty said.

Students such as Amanda Bamberger, 17, a senior who has already been accepted to Millersville University in Pennsylvania, benefited from hearing about a career with Carroll County public schools.

"I was pretty much sold on education, but this helped a lot," Bamberger said. "I want to come back to teach middle school here."

laura.mccandlish@baltsun.com

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