Students shadow career professionals

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Chibby Uwakwe just likes the idea of helping people and having a hands-on experience with his work every day.

The junior at Fike High School was one of 53 students who participating in a job shadow day Thursday organized by the Wilson Education Partnership.

Uwakwe will spend six weeks at North Carolina Governor’s School this summer.

“I will be studying Spanish, but I feel like that will be a key in the medical field in speaking with Spanish clients and patients,” said Uwakwe.

Uwakwe was one of 26 students who spent three hours at Wilson Medical Center looking at various professionals as they explained aspects of health care fields.

“I think it’s really insightful because you get to see all of the different options that we have, not only being a doctor or a nurse, but also being a physical therapist or being in the EMS,” Uwakwe said. “It’s really a good opportunity. I feel that it is a good idea to have a plan for what you want to do in the future so you are not making these decisions in college and wasting money or spending time taking the wrong classes.”

Medical professionals from nursing, radiology, nutrition services, laboratory sciences, perioperative services, the operating room, pharmacy and Wilson EMS paramedics and emergency medical technicians made themselves available for the students.

“We are trying to partner and collaborate with the hospital to get all of the areas that are available for students into the high schools eventually so they can see what opportunities they have,” said Robin Williams, the Wilson Education Partnership’s executive director.

Preston Callison, chief operating officer at Duke LifePoint’s Wilson Medical Center, said students these days are being encouraged to follow tracks quicker for their educational path.

“There are so many different options they have to explore, and those who show an interest early have a better success rate down the road getting jobs, jobs that pay and jobs that entertain their interests,” Callison said.

Health care is the largest employment sector in the nation, making up more than 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, Callison said. “It’s front and center in all things we talk about from politics to economy.”

Callison said participation in the job shadow event is all about giving students opportunity to get some more in-depth information about what options are out there for them.

Williams said there were a variety of jobs being shadowed around Wilson Thursday.

“We have some engineers and mechanics going to S.T. Wooten. At the Wilson Police Department, we have one interested in forensic science, one was interested in being a detective, and one was interested in being a policewoman,” Williams said.

“We have people in the school system. Some wanted to be the principal. Some wanted to teach,” she said. “We had one person interested in fashion merchandising, and she was placed with the owner of a boutique here to learn about buying and marketing and market share. We had three at Barton College — a basketball trainer and two in culinary.”

The WEP coordinated all of the pairings in an attempt to match student interests with jobs that aligned with those interests.

“I think it’s just to give them an opportunity to see what’s available, especially in our community,” Williams said.

All of the students were juniors from the Wilson County’s three public high schools.

WEP will follow up with the students later in the school year to find out if the jobs they shadowed remain their career goals.

“If it is, then we are going to take it a step further, and then next year if they really liked the place where they came, we are going to get them an opportunity to get back out here,” Williams said. “We will try to build that relationship so that when they graduate, maybe they will continue that as an opportunity. We are taking it a step further now.”

Williams said the event could not have been possible without the cooperation of the many business partners who took time out of their day to help the students.