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Career Day Speakers Impart Life Lessons

July 16, 2014

How many years of school did you need to become a doctor? What are the chemical compounds in make-up? Does a lawyer need a lawyer? These are a few of the many questions our inquisitive 6th-8th graders asked during OLQA’s 2nd Annual Career Day. Professionals in a variety of fields ranging from real estate to graphic design visited OLQA that sunny May day and gave students a morning to remember.

Students were wowed to hear from OLQA School Board member Herman Green’s wife, Carol Johnson Green, a businesswoman in media who has worked with a range of celebrities as a talent producer for NPR, NBC, and BET to name a few. “She was so energetic and so clearly loved her job. I want to work in media too,” said Jayden P., 7th grader, after he heard Mrs. Green speak. Students learned about Chemical Engineering from Mr. Louis Fava, and left the session with a greater understanding about the profession. Skylah D., a 6th grader, also learned something new that morning. “I didn’t know that there were so many different types of law, and that it’s not just all arguing,” she said after leaving corporate lawyer Ryan Patterson’s session. Eighth grader Autumn was impressed by Emily Battista, co-founder of the artisanal foods site www.hamptonslane.com saying, “She started her own company from scratch. I learned you have to have patience trying new things.”

Students in the 8th grade received an insider’s look into the day to day workings of the government after hearing from Will Younger, Compliance Director for Governor Andrew Cuomo. Eighth grader Angel A., whose dream is to have a seat in the oval office one day, was overjoyed to learn that Mr. Younger would come in to speak about government. “I’ve wanted to be President of the US since I was in second grade,” he said. Angel wasn’t the only student who learned more about the career field of his dreams. Shaila, a 6th grader, was moved by how Dr. Loughlin, a renowned pediatric pulmonologist, encouraged her to follow her own career aspirations. “He encouraged me to reach my goal of being a pediatrician,” she said. “I wasn’t sure about it because of all the years of school, but he said I could do it.”

School Board members Brian and Laura Elbogen shared with students the stories behind their career choices, Mr. Elbogen being in finance and Mrs. Elbogen in graphic design. Mr. Elbogen shared with students the importance of teamwork, saying, “In my career, my coworkers and I have to rally together and really work hard to complete projects and reach goals.” Mrs. Elbogen recalled the first whispers of her calling, sharing a picture of herself in the first grade and telling students how she heeded that calling over the years and worked not only in graphic design, but also in fashion and architecture. “She has had an interesting path,” said Stephanie A., 8th grader, “she worked her way up to have her own design business.”

At the end of the day it wasn’t just the details of the speaker’s careers that students took away, it was the life lessons these speakers imparted. Real estate broker and founder of Harlem Properties, John McGuinness, shared with students the importance of maintaining a positive attitude and believing in yourself. Speaker after speaker imparted wise words about being kind to everyone you meet since that connection might lead to greater opportunities, and about following a career that you care about not just doing something for financial reward. Tyrone, a 7th grader, reflected upon the day saying, “a career is not just a job, it’s a decision about your life. I learned that if you stick to your goal, something will come out of it.”

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