Massapequa High School has been known for its innovative programs, which have helped propel students into successful careers. One of those programs is the annual career night.
Celebrating its fifth year, students and parents are given the opportunity to visit with people in the health care, food service, police, tech, accounting and hotel industries, just to mention a few of the 30 vendors who spent several hours speaking with the students about their fields. Some were former MHS graduates who came distances just to give back to the community that gave them a great start in life.
Susan Thompson, chairperson for career technology and education, is the brains behind the event and discussed why this venue is so important.
“We want to get these students as much information as they can as to what is available to them after graduation, and hopefully start them on their way to a great career,” said Thompson. “Tonight we have 30 vendors and it varies between industry, health care and different business. The students and parents can get information directly from the people who show them exactly what they do. We started this to get a better connection between businesses and students so the students understand why they are learning certain skills.”
Thompson added that the school has a relationship with Winthrop University Hospital, North Shore-LIJ and St. Joseph’s Hospital, which is fortunate as health care is a growing industry, especially for future college students.
“The students have an opportunity to talk with doctors, nurses, engineers and people throughout the hospital and it helps the student understand how they got to their careers,” said Thompson. “It’s interesting because some doctors were engineers first before they became doctors. That opens the students’ eyes as to what the possibilities are.”
The evening opened with keynote speaker Sue Panzer, from the MHS class of ‘75, who stood in the auditorium for the first time in 40 years. After a short stint as a teacher down south, Panzer spent 25 years in the cable television industry with an impressive career track of vice president /area general manager of the northeast region of Showtime Networks and for the past six years, developed her own consulting firm.
“Seeing my nieces and nephews navigate through the schools, it’s important for people to be exposed to the different possible careers that are out there,” said Panzer. “I have some life lessons I want to share because it helps people. I am here to talk about what I have learned in my career and hopefully, help some kids know that it is OK not to know what you want to do yet, but to be open to the possibilities.”
Sitting in the audience were 11th graders Casey Cummings and Mollie Brown. Cummings was encouraged by her teacher to come for extra credit, but an interest in nursing allowed her an opportunity to speak with several nurses at the event.
“I feel nurses can make an impact on someone’s life,” she said.
Brown came for her second time and has an interest in criminology or the health field.
“I wanted to explore my options and to get a better feel about where I want to go and what I want to do,” she said.
After the lecture, students had a chance to mingle with the vendors and learn about the different trades. One of the vendors was ER Dox, an urgent care center in Massapequa Park.
“I think this is great because it exposes children to the field of medicine,” said Dr. Karen Piccirillo of ER Dox. “We are trying to give them exposure and tell them how wonderful it is to get into this field and how great it is to help people. We are so happy to be here.”
An aspiring doctor, 11th-grader Alexandria Cupus was excited to speak with a female physician.
“I think this is a really cool event. There are people I can talk to about careers,” said Cupus. “You can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it.”
Jake Rosenblum, 11th-grade class president, and John Cardis are both interested in business. Rosenblum hopes to own a business or go into hedge funds.
“I think this is a great opportunity to get a feel for what we want to do in the future,” he said. “I want to go to school and get my MBA and go into the stock market.”
Cardis is leaning towards accounting, but enjoys business as well.
“I spoke to one of the accountants here who was really inspiring. She taught me a lot,” said Cardis, who learned about the process of tax returns. “Being more connected to different kinds of people rather than sitting behind a desk—which most people think accounting is—was great.”
There is no shortage of talented, intelligent and hard-working students in Massapequa, many of which will use this career night as a building block to their future in college and beyond.