Students explore career paths through South electives

Maddy Ruos & Olivia Sotirchos, staff reporters

As a five or six-year old that is enticed by the vast possibilities that could define their profession, when most young children are asked what they want to be when they grow up, their answers range from astronaut to a rock star. Rarely do these careers “stick” with the child for very long. But a number of students at South are turning their career aspirations into a reality by pursuing the extensive elective opportunities at school.

For some students, choosing an elective is a matter of fulfilling a specific credit, but for sophomore Sharon Kim, selecting to follow the fashion elective sequence has given her insight into a field she plans to continue as a career.

“I wanted to explore [fashion] more like as a job,” Kim said. “As a child, I always wanted it as a career, but I wasn’t really educated on [fashion careers], and I wanted to explore it more and get to know it a bit better.”

Similar to Kim, senior Brooklyn Cohen has been enrolled in the Child Development elective sequence for three out of her four years at South. She plans on attending Butler University this upcoming fall, and credits the child development program with giving her the opportunity to develop the skills that are necessary to pursue her passion in teaching.

“I have gotten the opportunity to be a preschool teacher and teach at Winkelman Elementary School in a first grade classroom and get real-life experience,” Cohen said. “I feel like that is what’s so special about the Child Development program at South, because you really get opportunities to get that experience and make sure it is something you absolutely want to do with your life.”

Like Cohen, sophomore Rebecca Spector has taken Child Development for two semesters and credits the elective with furthering her interests in becoming an elementary school teacher. She explains that her allure to teaching started as a young child, but through electives at South, Spector has been able to further her interest into a legitimate plan for the future.

“I really think being a teacher would be a fun and interesting job,” Spector said. “I get to meet all these different kinds of kids, and I have the chance to teach them something that they will be able to use for the rest of their life. I think that’s really amazing.”

Sophomore Elena Pertsalis also attributes electives at South for furthering her interests in a possible career. For Pertsalis, becoming a lawyer was something she always wanted to do, but actually taking steps for her possible career was something that only electives at South could prepare her for. Being in Business Law for a semester, Pertsalis explains, was a way to figure out if an occupation in law was right for her.

“That field interests me [because] I really want to defend people,” Pertsalis said. “I think no matter what someone has done, they still deserve forgiveness, and I believe everyone deserves a good defense in court.”

Alongside the real-life experience that elective courses provide South students with, many individuals feel as if their teacher offers specialized support in reverence to career planning. Spector feels her Child Development teacher, Kim Kiraly, has helped her focus on developing skills that will be useful during her hopeful career as an elementary school teacher.

“[Kiraly] is super supportive and is very helpful,” Spector said. “If I have questions about being a teacher or any specific questions about my personal career and decisions I should make, she is always there to help.”

In addition to receiving support from teachers, students that participate in electives at South get the benefit of choosing a class that is of particular meaning to them. Kim explains that while academic classes have obvious educational meaning, elective classes also offer lessons that are equally valuable to students.

“My elective is the one class where I can truly do what I want to do without being forced to take a class,” Kim said. “This is a class I want to take, this is a class that I choose. It’s a break for me.”

For students who have found electives at South that actively help them turn their interests into viable career options, the result is an individual that is equipped with the experience to take on the challenges of the future. Junior Holly Hennelly, passionate about continuing a career in forensics after taking the elective, is one of these students, and she feels as if the benefits of finding a career of interest before the college years are endless.

“I feel like taking an elective you are really interested in is very good to do in high school, just so you know you are headed in the right direction,” Hennelly said. “It’s good to experience that interest before college.”