Sigonella students consider career options
November 18, 2004
NAS SIGONELLA, Sicily — Nearly two dozen juniors and seniors at Stephen F. Decatur High School are using a new program to get a step ahead in preparation for their entry into the job market.
On Tuesday, they had a little fun while they were at it.
The students spent the morning touring the air station’s flight line as part of their “schools to careers” or “career practicum” courses.
They spent the first part of the morning touring the base’s Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, where they learned about the Navy job of aircrew survival equipmentmen, more commonly known as parachute riggers.
After learning about parachute packing, liquid oxygen equipment and life rafts, they moved to the P-3 Orion patrol aircraft squadron VP-16, then on to the base helicopter detachment, HC-4.
Though the day was loaded with the whiz-bang fun of climbing into helicopters and learning about the weaponry carried by the P-3, it still gave them an eyes- and hands-on look at careers that some may eventually enter if they enlisted in the Navy, as a few indicated they would.
The two courses, which include job- or career-practical areas such as resumes and interviews, include a heavy dose of career exploration.
Kathy Campbell, the school’s career coordinator and teacher of the two classes, said that 14 speakers in a variety of fields have visited the students to explain what they do. Campbell said that the school also offers a career exploratory class for eighth-graders.
Even though they are limited to careers available on the base, and are physically far removed from the commercial U.S. job market, some students said they didn’t think they were missing out on much.
“I think there is a bit, but it’s not a big deal, because it’s like a miniature economy on base,” said senior Randy Waggoner, who’s enrolled in the “schools to careers” course.
Students previously toured the base hospital.
“We’ve talked to an engineer about his field, another on computer networks and electronics.”
Senior Neva Austin said her group saw a dissected heart, learning about — and seeing — what led to its former owner’s death. The new courses, she said, are good additions to the curriculum.
“Before this, only the JROTC classes got to see the base [like this],” she said.
Austin said she believes the career choices offered on base are limited, especially for the career she has chosen to pursue — that of a molecular and astral physicist.
For while other classmates are setting their sights on the military, or jobs in electronics, Austin’s got her eyes on the stars. And no matter how hard she looks, there just aren’t any NASA rocket scientists on Sigonella.