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Firefighter Jesse Hazlewood speaks to local eighth-graders at Career Discovery Day Wednesday at the Lake Charles Civic Center. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Firefighter Jesse Hazlewood speaks to local eighth-graders at Career Discovery Day Wednesday at the Lake Charles Civic Center. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Students prepare for future with Career Discovery Day

Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 7:23 PM

By Nichole Osinski / American Press

On Wednesday more than 3,500 eighth grade students took part in a career program to learn about high-demand positions and interact with professionals. The Career Discovery Day, sponsored by the SWLA Economic Development Alliance and several local businesses, welcomed students from Calcasieu, Cameron, Jeff Davis, Allen and Beauregard Parishes to browse jobs booths and talk to professionals.

The event, held at the Lake Charles Civic Center, was geared toward students who are looking into field that requires a certification or two year degree. From 8:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. students were grouped together to spend one hour visiting the booths which consisted of over 40 different demonstrations.

“Our effort here is to show these kids these different careers that don’t require a four year college degree,” said Chairman Bob Smith. “Right now with all these upcoming construction jobs and all this industry expansion we need workers really bad so these kids are going to get an idea that there is an alternative to going to a four year college.”

The third annual event focused not only on careers that can be achieved in less than four years but that are also high-paying as well. Some of the jobs included in the program were law enforcement, nursing and cosmetology where professionals in these fields were on-hand to answer any questions.

Trevian Tippy, an eighth-grader from Ray D. Molo Middle School, said he was interested in the paramedic booth but was focused on welding because his grandfather welds.

“I like everything about this; it helps you learn more stuff about the jobs here and also if you need to ask some questions you can go to any booth,” said eighth-grader Amy Rowell.

Theresa Bourque, a volunteer promoting process technology at Sowela’s booth, said the career day is important for students so they can get a head start on thinking about a career. She said a benefit of a technical career was that students could receive their degree in two years enabling then to quickly move into the actual field.

Different from the last two years was the incorporation of a session for tenth graders. Director of Quality and Training for PPG Industries Tom Hatfield said bringing in tenth graders is important since they are only a year and a half away from moving into a career. He said they want to focus on student who know they don’t want to go to a four year college but still do not have an exact idea for what they want to do in the future.

“I think it’s going much better than it has in the last two years—I see both from the presenters and the students that there’s much more interaction,” said Hatfield. “For these eighth graders we’re just planting a seed to think about these opportunities; the tenth graders, they’re a year and a half away from getting into a career. We’re hoping this really grows and we can expand on that next year.”

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