MOUNT VERNON — Choosing a career path can be a tough decision for high schoolers and, given the rising cost of college tuition, changing majors after one has started college can be an expensive proposition. What if students had a chance to check out a certain field before spending money to study something that might turn out to be less than ideal?
Several area senior high school students got the chance to do just that through participation in the Mentorship for Leadership program coordinated by the Knox County Educational Service Center’s Youth Enrichment Services. The mentorship program offers youngsters the opportunity to team up with members of the business community to explore specific career interests. Student participants have 10 hours of seminars, spend at least 18 hours with a business mentor and two hours shadowing another professional. Then all students get together to share their experiences and final projects with each other, their parents and their mentors.
About half of this year’s participants presenting at the May 10 Mentorship Leadership dinner reported the experience helped them confirm their career choice. Some students discovered the particular field was not for them, and a few remain undecided.
Mount Vernon High School student Duncan Shremshock, for example, said he is still having trouble choosing between two career options: He explored the information technology field with Ben Stillman of Franklin University because he likes computers. Because he likes solving problems, he also learned about civil engineering from Knox County Engineer Jim Henry.
“I still need to solidify my choice,” said Shremshock, “but it’s hard. I found out both IT and engineering could work for me.”
Lisa Muncie’s daughter Tatiana Colopy, Danville High School, mentored with Kevin Stollard, a physical therapist with Mohican Sports Medicine and found out physical therapy is definitely what she wants to do.
Munice said she liked the fact that the students got to go out and actually participate in the field they are thinking about as a career. “So many of our kids,” she said, “leave high school and they have to pick a college career. They haven’t really experienced anything outside of high school to help them know what they want to do. This program really gives them an idea of ‘Yes, this is something I’m interested in,’ before they spend thousands of dollars on college, or ‘No, this is something I thought I might like, but it’s really not for me.’”
Colopy was also able to visit a couple of colleges and determine which would be the best fit for her degree choice.
Bailey Cole, MVHS, said she learned a lot about dental hygiene while mentoring with Kristen Oswalt, and decided it is definitely a career path she could enjoy. She said it was fascinating to learn about how people take care of their teeth — or not — and what one can learn about people’s health all based on the condition of their teeth.
“It is a lot harder than I thought it was,” Cole said. “You have to have a lot more schooling than I thought at first. I like the field because you get to meet a lot of new people. You kind of do the same thing every day, which kind of sounds boring, but then again, you’re never surprised.”
Genetic counseling is not a field Carri Garber wants to pursue. The Centerburg High School student thought it would be interesting to look into the mystery of DNA and genetics, but has changed her mind after spending time with genetic counselors at the Ohio State University. “I mentored with a prenatal genetic counselor,” she said. “They basically advise expecting mothers on things they think their babies might have, like autism or Down syndrome. They pretty much just tell them they have the condition or not. It bothered. me that there isn’t really anything they can do about the condition once they know about it.”
This year’s program participants, their schools and their mentors are: Aubrie Allen, Centerburg High School, Noel Alden, attorney; Bailey Cole, Mount Vernon, Kristen Oswalt, dental hygienist; Tatiana Colopy, Danville High School, Kevin Stollard, physical therapist, Mohican Sports Medicine; Elijah Cooper, Knox County Career Center, John Burke, physical therapist, Mohican Sports Medicine.
Alyssa Crow, MVHS, Nelson & Nelson, CPAs; Katelyn Durbin, MVHS, Amanda Rogers, Complete Care Animal Hospital; Taylor Ferguson, Fredericktown High School, John Dilts, attorney; Anna Gaddis, FHS, Diagnostic Imaging, Knox Community Hospital; Carri Garber, CHS, genetic counselors, Ohio State University; Halla Jones, FHS, Connie Kennedy, graphic design.
Cierra Light, MVHS, Dr. Brent Nimeth, general practitioner; Emily Litt, FHS, Dave Lamport, physician assistant and Dr. William Elder, American Health Network; Celia Manns, FHS, Kevin Stollard, physical therapist, Mohican Sports Medicine; Nicole Moore, MVHS, Clint Bailey, Critchfield, Critchfield & Johnston; Austin Nininger, CHS, Greg Lortie, engineer, Ariel Corp.
Callan Pugh, FHS, Dr. David Zeuch, Crawford Eye Clinic; Renae Secrest, MVHS, dietitians, Knox Community Hospital; Rachel Shaffer, FHS, Debbie Boggs, deaf education; Duncan Shremshock, MVHS, Ben Stillman, Franklin University, and Jim Henry, Knox County Engineer; Jenna Steady, MVHS, Birthing Center, KCH; and Emma Wolford, FHS, Theresa Cook, social worker, Area Agency on Aging.
“Without the cooperation and dedication of the mentors, parents, school coordinators and businesses, these opportunities would not be possible,” said Dr. John Jurkowitz, coordinator of the program for the KCESC.