When Marcie White asks her Pasco High School students what career they want, she gets the same 10 answers.
“I know that my students don’t really know what it takes to become an orthopedic surgeon or a pediatrician or a professional athlete,” she said. “I know, for a lot of them, that’s not necessarily going to be their reality.”
White and fellow Pasco High teacher Julia Dudley decided to change the reality for students by inviting more than 100 professionals to speak about what they do.
We don’t want our students to just understand the mechanics of a career, but we want them to understand the educational or experience path that brought them to where they are.
Marcie White, Pasco High teacher
Never miss a local story.
Pasco High students heard from cooks, nurses, journalists and others during the school’s first career fair Tuesday.
“We’ve really asked (the speakers) to focus on the story of how they’ve gotten to where they are today,” White said. “We don’t want our students to just understand the mechanics of a career, but we want them to understand the educational or experience path that brought them to where they are.”
The stories are aimed at helping students determine whether they want to pursue that career, White said.
“If they can go to sessions and knock two options off the future block, we’re going to say, ‘That’s a win,’ because a lot of our students come and they have blank slates about what they think they’re going to be,” White said.
Most of the students aren’t going to follow a linear path to their eventual career, and Dudley said the stories should help students learn about adapting or changing their goals as they proceed.
In addition to other benefits, Dudley said the event allows students to better understand the community and learn about professions they might not know existed.
“There are some really remarkable things happening in our community that they’re not even aware of, which could make them more proud of the community that they live in,” White said.
Each professional was stationed in a classroom and spoke to students during one of six 30-minute sessions. Students picked the careers they wanted to learn about, and the organizers tried to pair them with professionals in those fields.
A professional athlete, a chef from Foodies Brick and Mortar, and an auto industry representative generated a lot of interest.
“We have a number of nurses, and just in general, the interest in nursing is high,” Dudley said.
Arianna Torrey, a Pasco High junior, was one of them.
She spent the majority of her sessions learning about professions in the medical field, but signed up for a couple other professions.
“Sometimes, I’ve had this thought about doing law,” she said. “I think (career day) shows us the reality of what is going to happen. We have this perfect little visual of what we think our life is going to be, but then we don’t know how that’s actually going to turn out.”
The school hasn’t held an event like career day on the same scale before. Officials organized a smaller version of the event with a dozen businesses about 10 years ago, White said.
The two teachers plan to continue the event, so the ninth-grade students attending Tuesday will hear the stories from some 20 speakers during the course of high school.
“We think this first year is going to be valuable because it’s ... a new opportunity for (students),” White said. “In future years, their selection will be more specific to what they want to do.”