Confidence abounds among Brier Creek students

Fifth graders explore career options
Mar. 15, 2013 @ 06:57 AM


When I sat down Tuesday inside the multi-purpose room at Brier Creek Elementary School, the notion crossed my mind that I was once in their shoes.
Eighteen volunteers from a range of Davidson County and state institutions gathered to to engage fifth grade students as part of the school's career fair. I was there with my camera and recorder, showing the kids a few "tools of my trade." Some took pictures of their classmates, while others spoke of their ambitions during a mock interview.
They made their way around station-to-station and a few of the students mentioned an interest in writing. Others pointed to nursing or crime scene investigation. They asked questions about my education, background and skill set as a child.
I told them that I too was once a Davidson County student making my way through high school when it occurred to me that writing could be my first calling in life. Unlike myself, the majority of the students seemed confident in who they wanted to be and sure of the road they would travel to get there. Several said they had considered becoming prosecutors and laid out plans to attend law school at Wake Forest or Duke.
Leyna Steffen, a guidance counselor at Brier Creek, attributes this to the foundation laid by their parents. She hopes the career fair gives them an additional source of information in making significant future decisions.
"I think it gives them the opportunity to really see the day-to-day stuff that everyone goes through," Steffen said. "When they have their moms and dads leave for work, they don't really know what people do. That might know the title, but now they really get to learn about the typical day-to-day stuff required for the world of work."
Volunteers like Brandon Welch, a N.C. State Trooper, encouraged the boys and girls to attend college.
Inquisitive minds absorbed the day-to-day affairs of a law enforcement officer. And they wanted to know more. Most had never observed an arrest and inquired what it felt like to be arrested.
"Some of the kids asked me if I'd ever arrested somebody," Welch said. "They wanted to try what the handcuffs felt like, and every one of them that put them on said 'These don't feel good!' That's what I told them; they're not designed for comfort."
Hands-on experiences, like a career fair, might be the very thing to keep their hands out of handcuffs later in life.

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or