Great American Teach-in exposes students to careers

An animal service worker and an attorney were among nearly two dozen guests who dropped into Wesley Chapel High School on Nov. 14 to talk about their careers as part in the Great American Teach-In.

The goal is to give students an idea of the broad array of career choices they have, and to allow people from the community a chance to share their knowledge about what students need to know to thrive in their line of work.

Clementine Conde, left, an attorney, and Sarah Sukhram, an associate at Pasco County Animal Services, took part in the Great American Teach-in at Wesley Chapel High School on Nov. 14. (Brian Fernandes)

Schools across Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties took part in the Great American Teach-In on Nov. 14 and Nov. 15.

Speakers talked about what they do for a living, what inspired them to pursue that line of work, and what skills and knowledge they need to be successful.

The event gives students a chance to hear directly from professionals. It also can introduce them to career choices they may not know about, and can be a source of inspiration to pursue additional education.

Teach-In speakers at Wesley Chapel High ranged from nurses and marketing administrators to radio personalities and aviation technicians.

When one student mentioned she’d heard that law is a boring major, criminal defense attorney Clementine Conde responded: “It depends on the type of law that you do. Once you get out there and practice, it’s a lot more interesting.”

Conde told students that studying law can be daunting, but the reward outweighs the work.

Since receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami, then a law degree from Western New England University, she has been practicing legal work for 26 years.

During her class visit, she broke down the difference between the federal and state court system, and she emphasized how a police record can hinder someone’s effort to land a particular job, or get into the school of one’s choice.

She said it’s important that students know their Miranda rights, to avoid self-incrimination.

“A lot of them [students] don’t know they have the right to remain silent if an officer is asking them questions,” said Conde. “It’s important for them to know.”

As she left the class, she offered a piece of advice that she gives her own 16-year-old son. She told them to set a long-term goal, a vision which is obtainable.

Kymone Hinds, another guest speaker, said he hopes to help others to “see past the limits that others have put on them and the limits they’ve placed on themselves.”

Hinds shared his experiences as an author, podcaster, and the owner of a business called Ideas to Life.

His business revolves around coaching and consulting inspiring entrepreneurs, while collaborating with other companies for projects and events.

A native of Tennessee, Hinds is a recent Wesley Chapel transplant and has been using his podcast for the past two years to promote his business.

Like Conde, Hinds, who has a daughter at Wesley Chapel High, wanted students to take away the message that it is important to have some agenda set in place, even if things don’t pan out the way they were intended.

“I wanted them to understand that it’s important to have a vision for your life,” he explained. “A vision is something that carries us beyond our present circumstance. When we face obstacles, our vision is what keeps us motivated,” he said.

Sarah Sukhram, an animal service worker, told students that no matter what skills they possess, they may find themselves in a field they never imagined.

With an education in corporate risk analysis, Sukhram had no idea that she would one day find herself dealing with the issue of stray animals. But since January, she has worked for the Pasco County Animal Services in Land O’ Lakes as a volunteer and foster care coordinator.

Although she has always had a love for animals, she never thought her skills in corporate risk analysis would be transferrable into caring for animals.

She encouraged students who were at least 16 to consider becoming volunteers.

She also asked how many of the students own pets, followed by a question regarding how many of the pets wear tags or have been micro-chipped. More hands went up for the first question than for the second.

Many pets, she said, end up in shelters because of a lack of identification.

Besides working directly with animals, other opportunities exist at Animal Services, including social media work, graphic design and customer service, she said.

Sukhram said that students shouldn’t have to feel boxed in to higher education, but instead should focus on what they are passionate about doing.

“I think that education is always important, but I do think there are a lot of opportunities out there for those that may not want to go the college route, and that’s OK,” she said.

Published November 21, 2018

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