By Dedra Cordle
Miya Miller was steadfast in her belief that she would be a music teacher one day.
“It was what I wanted to do my whole life,” she said.
But lately, the sophomore at Central Crossing High School has been experiencing a change of heart.
“The dream just isn’t fun for me anymore,” she said.
Because of her surprising change in professional aspirations, Miller was very eager to attend an upcoming Career Day event at her school.
“I wanted to see what else is out there,” she said.
So on Jan. 30, Miller and her fellow sophomores filtered into the gymnasium at their school where 16 tables were set up. Those 16 tables signified the fields of study at the nearby South-Western Career Academy.
One by one, Miller gathered information about careers that sounded intriguing – health technology, health information management, early childhood education, cosmetology and the culinary arts.
She grilled the students and instructors representing those programs about what they do in the program and which certifications they may receive in those fields.
Of those, she thought a career in the health field would be good for her until she stuck her hand in a jar set out for demonstration.
“It’s filled with rice, oatmeal, applesauce and crushed Cheetos,” said Steven Weakley, a junior in the health information management program. “It’s supposed to represent what it feels like to touch throw up.”
Moving on, Miller wandered over to the dental assisting program where senior Kathryn Frank helped her take an impression of teeth.
As they discussed the pros and cons of the program, Miller wondered whether that this could be the field for her.
“I would like to look into it more, but I just don’t know yet,” she said.
Hers was a common refrain from the many students who explored some of the fields of study that will be available to them next year.
Amy Schakat, the coordinator of career technical education at the South-Western City Schools District, said the indecisiveness is completely normal.
“At this age, students often do not know what they want to do for the rest of their lives,” she said. “But what the Career Day event does is allow them to explore possible careers, gives them a hands-on experience and lets them interact with students going through these programs.”
Not all students, however, experience indecisiveness at the close of the event. For some, that hour their class spent exploring careers is all that they needed.
“I’ve decided that I want to join the early childhood education program,” said Breanna Whitted.
For years, she said she has been torn between a career as a nurse and a career as a teacher, but spending time with the students in the early childhood education program solidified her path toward becoming a teacher.
“It’s something I really want to do.”
It also didn’t help matters that she said was grossed out when she stuck her hand in the jar of the unknown substance at the health table.
“A career in the health field is definitely not for everyone,” said Weakley. “But the good thing is that these careers here will be around for a very long time.”