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Plainview Offers Healthy Career Choices

High school years can be an ideal incubator for the budding career interests of a student — it is the job of faculty and field professionals to provide inspiration in a nurturing environment.

Plainview was well-represented in such an environment recently, as the 5th annual Career Day Futures Fair was held at Massapequa High School. Forty booths representing such diverse careers as aviation, medicine, automotive, electrical engineering, culinary arts, banking law enforcement and more were set up for professionals to interact with students in grades 10 through 12. The goal of the event, created by Denise DeLury, career to education counselor, and Susan Thompson, chairperson for career technology education, was to introduce students to the many different careers available to them and give them the opportunity to learn about the careers by speaking with those in the fields.

“This exposes students to different careers and they can talk to people who are actually doing the job and that is the best way to find out information about a career,” said DeLury. “They can give them advice on what classes to take in high school, what is the next step, are there any clubs they should be joining in high school, what skills do they need, what majors they need, what kind of colleges they should be going to. The students know what their parents do but there are so many career opportunities out there that they don’t know about and this will help them.”

Sporting a chef’s hat and a jovial demeanor was Eric Sieden, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at North Shore LIJ Plainview Hospital. A chef for 10 years and a graduate of NYIT culinary school, Sieden said he wanted to dispel unflattering preconceived notions about hospital food.

“Cooking in a hospital is starting out having certain strikes against you. When I ask students what their perception of hospital food is they say it reminds them of the school lunch,” he said. “It has a bad reputation.”

But Sieden believes high-end culinary chops in the health care industry is of utmost importance — it is quite literally a life or death situation.

“I explain to students that people are in the hospital because they just suffered a heart attack or had high blood pressure, so we can’t use certain ingredients, like salt and fats, when we cook,” he said. “We teach them about healthy cooking. They were surprised to see there was a food service industry within health care that they didn’t know much about.”

Plainview’s health care field was also well-represented by Lori Kirschner, director of volunteer services for Plainview and Syosset hospitals. She said real-life experience in the field offers exciting challenges to any student ready and willing to delve into the inner workings of a hospital.

“We encourage students to come to the hospital a few hours a week to volunteer,” she said, adding that some students who volunteer go on to become nurses and physicians, as one young man did who started as a volunteer and years later became a doctor at one of their hospitals. “It looks good for the college application, you make friends, learn about careers and you are helping people.”

Student David Levine said he learned a valuable lesson at the career fair — good grades realy do matter.

“There are different colleges for different work forces and you need to get really good grades to get into most schools now,” said Levine.

Susan Thompson, chairperson for career technology education, said the healthcare industry represented by Plainview is just one career path looking for the bright minds of tomorrow.

“This is an opportunity for the students to broaden their horizons and many of the careers here are ones that this country needs,” she said. “People are needed in such industries as electrical training, advance manufacturing, nursing and engineers.”