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Career Expo at Monroe Middle helps shape futures

Dr. Kelly Baete, a veterinarian from Weddington Animal Hospital; and her assistant, Erica Britton, a veterinary assistant, at right; discuss animal care with students and offer details about what a veterinarian does.

Choosing a career and knowing the pathway to that journey is an essential ingredient in having a successful education and ultimately, a successful career. Monroe Middle is working on making that journey easier for its students.
   
Area professionals, including the medical field, financial advisors and business owners, were invited Monday (March 9, 2009) to the school’s second annual Career Expo with the goal of assisting and inspiring students in deciding their futures.
   
School principal Montrio Belton said the school holds a couple of career day events throughout the school year in order to expose students to job opportunities beyond high school.
   
“First, we hope to get students interested in the various career opportunities that exist, but more importantly, it shows them the pathway they must travel to reach their goal,” he said. “In other words, if I want to become a doctor, what are the things I must do to become a doctor? If I want to own my own hair salon, what are the steps necessary to own my own business?”
   
Event organizers included careers that require two- and four-year degrees, as well as those that require school beyond a bachelor’s degree.
   
“The purpose for today is to connect academics and this idea of college that we keep talking to them about – to the career world and to show students that there is a connection between the three,” said Karen Accardi Gear Up Coordinator, one of the event organizers. “It’s to show them that there is a bridge between middle school, high school, college and then career.
   
“We realize that not every student is going to pursue a four-year degree and that’s fine, because in today’s world there are plenty of good-paying jobs, good careers that only require a two-year degree. We also know that the medical field is very popular with students, and there is going to be a great job market for that.”
   
Accardi said cosmetology and veterinarian medicine are two other popular fields. 
   
Individuals participating included Dr. Kelly Baete, a veterinarian for Weddington Animal Hospital; Dr. Cheryl Courtlandt, a pediatrician for Carolinas Medical; UCPS Assistant Superintendent Dr. Denise Patterson; Nicole McCracken, owner of a Monroe hair salon; TIAA-CREF Financial Services; the Union Correctional Center; Ellen Junge, retired from Instructional Technology; Andre Elam, UCPS Instructional Technology; and Wendy Rebadow, from Carolina Medical Center-Union.

Dr. Cheryl Courtlandt, a pediatrician at Levine Children’s Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center, said she enjoyed offering advice and insight into her career. “As a pediatrician, I am always looking for ways to involve children in the community and help with career planning and career goals,” she said.

Courtlandt said it’s important to choose a career that one is passionate about and the earlier a student is exposed to information about those careers; the earlier he can make informed decisions.

“I talk to students about having a passion, finding something they’re interested in; trying to be the very best they can be at that specific thing because careers are a 30- to 40-year journey,” she said. “I wake up every day happy because I love my job.”
   
Kendall Kiser, a Monroe Middle School literacy coach and co-organizer of the career expo said the goal of the event is bring the outside world and all it has to offer career-wise inside the walls of the school.

“So often students have no idea what exists outside of Monroe,” Kiser said. “So we wanted to start at an early age to show these students, ‘this is what my future could entail if I stay in school’.”
   
IAA CREF Financial Services from Charlotte has partnered with Monroe Middle School for the past couple of years, even allowing students to visit their facility. They also send several representatives to participate in the Career Expo event.
   
“It’s exciting that everyone was able to give up a half-of-a-day to come spend time with these students,” Kiser said. “The students have been so excited.”

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, Publications Coordinator
Posted: Mar 19, 2009 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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