By Patrick Donachie
Students at Queens High School for the Sciences at York College got firsthand knowledge and advice from a wide array of career professionals at the school’s second annual Career Day Wednesday.
“We wanted to make it as diverse as possible… because we have students that are multi-talented,” Principal Ana De Jesus said about the few dozen professionals speaking in classes during the course of the day. “This is a way of motivating students to ask questions about the fields and start doing community services and internships, especially early on.”
The school, which opened in 2002 and enrolls 464 students, is located on the CUNY York College campus in downtown Jamaica. The career day in the previous year involved a forum where attendees could answer questions for students, but the number of interested speakers demanded a different approach this year. The professionals asked to speak during individual classes, said Rachel Minkowsky, a guidance counselor for the school.
“We want the students to get an idea of what they can use with the education they’re getting,” she said, noting that the students came to the sessions with different levels of career knowledge. “Some of them know absolutely and some of them are still discovering new things.”
The professionals on hand to speak included attorneys and physicians, professors and architects. A freelance photographer spoke about the triumphs and challenges of running a photography firm.
Speakers ran the gamut of friends and acquaintances of the staff to people who replied to cold calls conducted by Barbara Wittstruck, the school’s secretary. She said it was particularly fulfilling and beneficial for students to see alumni who have found success in their chosen fields come back to speak about their experiences.
“What better to see someone who has been to the school already come back to speak?” she said. “It’s fun. The teachers learn a lot and the students learn a lot.”
The school hopes to continue inspiring its students with guidance, and additional opportunities in career mentorship. Minkowsky said the school always promoted opportunities and possibilities for their students, ensuring that they would continue their education.
“With these kids, it’s not a question of if they’re going to college, it’s when,” she said.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona