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Midvale Journal

Midvale students learn about careers from professionals

Feb 02, 2018 08:45AM ● By Julie Slama

Timpanogos Cave National Monument Ranger Annie Brantley teaches Hillcrest High students about career options. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

It began with Canyons School District Superintendent Jim Briscoe thanking community members who took several hours off work to share about their professions with Hillcrest High School students.

“This is one of the more important things in public education,” he said about the value of professionals talking about their careers and possibly influencing the students’ futures. “Students can learn about careers, connect with business and industry leaders and talk to them about pursuing a career or even job shadowing them.”

Work-Based Learning Facilitator Cher Burbank, who organized Hillcrest’s Career Exploration Day in November, said speakers talked about “success and the rules to be successful” as they exposed students to careers they may not have envisioned. 

Amongst the speakers were those in careers in engineering, music, geology, solar panel sales, photography, immigration law, 3D graphics and more. 

Similarly, at the elementary level, Midvale Elementary students’ Career Day in December allowed them to learn about 34 careers beyond what they may be familiar with, said Heidi Matthews, who coordinated the event.

“We hope students make the connections between spelling, writing, math and science and with careers they’re learning about,” she said.

Third-grade teacher Nicole Newbold said that Career Day gives them a look ahead into their future.

“It’s important that they realize what they can work toward and relate what they’re doing now to what they may need to study in college for their career,” she said.

In several classrooms, guest speaker and yoga teacher Stephanie Bay taught the students yoga techniques.

“It’s not just doing it,” she told students. “I had to learn about muscles and bones and how best to work with them so in many cases, they don’t hurt more. This is something that can help everyone and can help people deal with everyday stress.”

Teacher Sharon Aitken said her students are excited about Career Day.

“They are able to ask questions and learn what is out there,” she said. “They get so excited.”

Often, students plan for one career, but fall into another, said Hillcrest High Principal Greg Leavitt, who illustrated that with his own life. He told Hillcrest students that he struggled with math in high school, yet in his Math 101 class at the University of Utah, he liked it and became a math teacher before a school administrator. 

“We don’t know what our career paths look like,” he said. “Even our top students are still exploring.”

Film Actor Bus Riley, who recently appeared on Netflix as Santa in “A Christmas Eve Miracle,” echoed Leavitt.

“I really believe you need to pursue your passion,” he told a classroom of acting students. “Do what you love and you’ll never have to work.”

Even though his career was in sales, it wasn’t until he was older that he turned his desire into becoming an actor.

“I did amateur stuff on the side, but only a small percentage of actors make a living in the profession. Actors have to have the passion, the commitment and the patience to accept rejection. It’s not all glamorous,” he said.

Similarly, dentist Randy Roberts chose his profession because he wanted to be his own boss and set his own hours around his family life. He also wanted job security, however, it didn’t stop his hobby, which has become a side business—creating Kid History YouTube videos.

“I can change the world through dentistry with helping people chew food or seeing a gratifying smile,” he said. “I really enjoy dentistry and being an entrepreneur, but it can be stressful. Before I became a dentist, I wanted to create music videos. I’ve learned I can take that passion and have positive influence as a blogger and YouTuber. I made hundreds of videos, but they weren’t successful until the creation of Kid History. I did it because I enjoyed it and that’s a key to any job—enjoyment.”

Timpanogos Cave National Monument Ranger Annie Brantley said she is happy with her career choice.

“Rangers get paid with sunsets,” she said. “We do the work of the heart. It’s what we love to do. It’s the best job I’ve ever had; it’s so much fun.”

Although rangers interact with the public during their visits to parks, including telling visitors not to take selfies with bison in Yellowstone National Park, much of it has to do with preservation of natural resources, Brantley said. 

“As a park ranger, my job is protection and education,” she told students.

Brantley gave students a dilemma to ponder. She told students that by paving Mesa Verde National Park to allow visitors to see Native American ruins, the park is crowded during its peak season. Two hours south, Chaco Canyon is an international dark sky national park with ruins, but since the road is not paved, fewer people visit.

“The national parks belong to all Americans, so the question is ‘do we pave the road so more people can see what we’re protecting and learn about the ruins or do we preserve it and keep it the way it is, but that means fewer people will visit?’ It’s something we have to balance and decide,” Brantley said. “Being a park ranger is not a high-paying job, but it’s one where I’m making a difference and every day is fulfilling. To me, that is a successful career.”