Middle School Career Day Expands Horizons

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What does competitive swimming have to do with a successful career in advertising? According to graphic designer Stan Sands, the work ethic and discipline he developed while on the swim team at USC have impacted his career as much as any design principles he learned through his coursework.

Mr. Sands was one of 27 visitors who spent the morning of January 30 in Heathwood’s Middle School, introducing students to a wide variety of careers, from Realtor to reporter to veterinarian to meteorologist to coroner to Episcopal priest, and more.

Each Middle School student was able to attend four half-hour sessions in which they could learn about careers that might interest them, hear about each speaker’s personal experience in their career, and ask questions.

Student response was enthusiastic.

“They were all so fun and I learned so much,” said 7th grader Elliott Cox. “The Meteorologist was very cool. I agree, being on TV would be fun! For the job evaluation, I got Middle School teacher! I think that would be so fun!”

Seventh grader Carly Galbreth also enjoyed learning about careers in the media: “My favorite was definitely the AP reporter. I think that would be a fun career to pursue. I love to talk and reporters get to talk. A LOT. I thought the reporter’s backstory and experiences were really cool. She has met so many famous people and traveled all over! That is stuff I love to do.”

For 7th grader Eliza Kitchens, the whole morning was a positive experience: “I really enjoyed all of my classes. Each one was interesting and good to learn more about. Coach Spearman told us about being healthy and talking about everyone’s purpose and how to achieve it. I hope the speakers from today come back next year!”

“There is a great deal of research that has identified Middle School as a time when students can gain the most benefit from career exploration,” said Middle School Counselor Stacy Gross, who organized Career Day, “so we love to take advantage of this window of opportunity. Our Career Day is designed for students to learn about careers that they may be interested in, but also to expand their thought processes to consider career and educational opportunities that may not have previously occurred to them.”

“Career Day is a wonderful, experiential opportunity to expose students to various occupations,” said Middle School Head Suzanne Nagy. “It’s a chance for them to think about what they enjoy, the various paths one might take, and the challenge of finding work, that not only supports them financially, but gives purpose to one’s life. This day affords students the chance to meet different people, learn about jobs that require different personality traits, and the education needed to be successful.”  

“We also love opening our campus to community members so that they can interact with our students,” said Mrs. Gross. “It’s a pleasure to hear feedback from our speakers about how poised, confident, and insightful our kiddos are as they engage with the speakers in small-group settings.”

While some of the visiting speakers were Heathwood parents or alumni, others found their way to Career Day via Heathwood’s Columbia Connections program, which seeks to connect Heathwood students to leaders in the Midlands’ academic, cultural, scientific, non-profit, and business communities.

Thank you to all the guest speakers who took time out of their schedules to share their experience with our students:


Jennifer Abernathy, Pharmacist

Laura Basile, Neonatologist

Charles Bloom, Assistant Athletic Director, USC

Ashley Clarke, McNair Zervos, Tara Monroe, POUT Columbia

Dana Fulton, WACH Fox Chief Meteorologist

Henry Griffin, Chef/Restaurateur

Elizabeth Grove, Horse Trainer/Riding Instructor

Meg Kinnard Hardee, AP Reporter

Jennifer Hill, Performing and Visual Artist, Trustus Theatre

Kevin Hoover, K9 Unit, Richland County Sheriff’s Department

Barbara Jones, Paralegal

Tom Mauldin, Creator/Owner, Hook ‘n’ Hide

Brian McConchie, WACH Fox News

David Moses, IT-oLogy

Bill Stevens, Richland County Coroner’s Office

Alex and Dale Roberts, Realtors

Carrie Roberts, Richland County Sheriff’s Department Community Action Team

Vicki Rains, Richland County Sheriff’s Department Investigations Team

Stan Sands, Graphic Designer

Brad Shank, Executive VP, Columbia Fireflies

The Reverend Mitch Smith, Episcopal Priest

Jay Spearman, Strength and Conditioning Coach

Larry Tankersley, Brand Business Manager—Pure Fishing

John Thomas, Veterinarian

Childs Thrasher, Attorney