Leonel peered into a microscope. The Floyd Middle School sixth grader was examining human cells just like cytotechnologist Angela Hunter does every day for her job at WellStar Health System.
Hunter wheeled in a cart with microscopes to give Floyd students a glimpse of a career most students, if any, knew anything about before she explained it to them. She was among the community members who volunteered to educate the Floyd students about their careers as a part of Floyd’s annual Career and College Day.
“This is the age when [the students] are starting to make their decisions about what they want to do in life,” Hunter said. “[They’re] at a great age [for me] to share what I know and my life experiences with them. [Career Day] gives them ideas on careers. It encourages them.”
Leonel quizzed Hunter on what she studied in college for her career as a cytotechnologist. She explained the path to her job where she studies cells and looks for cellular anomalies that cause diseases like cancer.
Hunter also encouraged the students to take their education seriously so they have an opportunity to succeed.
“There are so many fields out there, especially in the medical field, that require a good education,” Hunter added.
Although school counselor Tanyika Butler said some of the presenters may not have expected some of the surprising questions students asked, Cobb County Police Department Police (CCPD) Officer Stephen Deloach was not surprised.
“The question that always gets [asked] the most is ‘what is the scariest thing you have seen,’” Officer Deloach revealed.
Officer Deloach said the question gives him the opportunity to illustrate the dangers of his job. As a member of the CCPD’s Community Affairs Unit, Officer Deloach serves as a liaison between the police department and the community. The Floyd career day gave Officer Deloach not only a chance to explain the job duties of police officers, but Officer Deloach and Police Capt. Scott Hamilton also gave the students advice on being successful in life.
Eighth grader Alexandra’s favorite part of career day was when the police officers encouraged the students to choose their friends wisely and avoid those who make poor choices, especially as it relates to the law.
“I liked the police officers and what they talked about,” added eighth grader Malayah. “I liked that they talked to us about how important education is and the hard things they have to witness on the job.”
Malayah was also intrigued when she heard the engineer from Cobb EMC confess to not liking math in school although he has to use it a lot in his job.
“I got a chance to ask him how much he makes in a year,” Malayah continued. “I thought he might make more.”
Malayah admitted that she really didn’t have a general idea of salaries for certain careers prior to career day.
“I think the best thing about the career day for the students is hearing the everyday work perspective from people other than teachers and parents,” explained Todd White, a Floyd eighth grade math teacher. “So, [the students] get a real look at what is required of them in terms of education, what the day-to-day workings of a job are, and how hard it is for [the community members] to earn the salaries that they are making.”
White acknowledged that the students are not the only ones who learn on career days. The veteran math teacher enjoyed listening to the community members talk about how they use math in their jobs.
In addition to the seasoned professionals, the students also heard current college students talk about what to expect if the students choose a college path. Counselor Butler, who helped organize the career day, stressed the importance of students hearing from the college students and professionals in person.
“We talk about careers. We show [the students] videotapes, but it is nothing like actually having someone who is working in that profession tell them about the good, the bad, and the ugly,” Butler said.